Mother's Morning: A Reflection on Mary

Good morning to all of the faculty, mothers, special guests and especially our beautiful daughters! I was invited to speak this morning and I couldn’t be more excited! I hope that YOU all know what my kids know…. I am not an expert on motherhood or being a perfect daughter of Christ or anything for that matter!

I stand before you all as as a wife/a daughter/ a sister/ but especially a mom trying to “do the best I can” (my favorite phrase to my kids when I’m late, forget to turn in a permission slip or any of the other countless things I don’t get around to doing!) We have one of the toughest jobs in the world. And sometimes we may feel as if we are failing every day. Sometimes we fail multiple times a day. So what sustains and nurtures me? What gives me a sense of peace and hope that everything will be ok? I can honestly only think of one thing. That ‘thing” has been my faith and my prayer life. My prayer life has evolved over the years as I have met numerous challenges and answered prayers have deepened my faith. In honor of Mary’s month of May, I would like to share my testimony to Mary’s love and direction in my life.

I have always had a soft spot for Mary. She’s gentle, kind, virtuous, and she said yes to God which makes her so generous and approachable as a mother! She notices our needs, as a good mother does and she will go to Jesus as she did at the wedding of Cana. She helped avert an embarrassing situation for the bride and groom. I wonder how many times she’s interceded on my behalf without my knowing.

My earliest recollection of my relationship with Mary was as a little girl. I would stand in front of the sink washing dishes and look at a little statue of Mary that my mother had in the kitchen. In the that statue, Mary wore the prettiest powder blue gown that was gently faded by the sun streaming in from the window. She looked like a young mom with her nurturing arm around a toddler aged Jesus. About that time, I learned to say the Hail Mary. It was a sweet and short prayer that brought me comfort. So I would say my little hail Marys always knowing that Mary was always just a prayer away and if I prayed good things would happen.

Fast forward to college when I found myself in a challenging time in my life. I attended Catholic University as a commuter. So between classes, when most people headed back to their dorms or the dining hall, I would find myself wandering over to the Basilica. I was in awe of the history and beauty of the shrine. If you go downstairs to the underground crypt, there is a whole mysterious and beautiful world of grottos of Marian statues lit with flickering candles. I was struck by how many different versions of Mary exist. There are 70 chapels saluting and paying tribute to apparitions of Mary from a variety of cultures from our Lady of Fatima to Our lady of Guadalupe! I remember thinking how wonderful that Mary wants to relate to US in a way that we would love and accept her.

However, it was at this lonely time, when I was seeking guidance, comfort, and meaning in my life so I started learning to pray the Rosary. The Rosary is a simple meditation… I found the cadence of each prayer to be soothing and comforting at a time where I felt lost and frustrated! As Pope John Paul II said “The Rosary is the storehouse of countless blessings”. So I was hopeful that it would help me. Praying the Rosary did gave me a sense of peace, as well as, an organized way to pray. Back then, I wasn’t always sure that my prayers were being heard. But I stayed the course, tried to be patient and have faith. There have been many times where I’ve thought my prayers were not answered. And it’s “not working “. I’ve heard that sentiment often from my kids…”I pray and nothing happens.” In these times, I have tried to model Mary during all the times she faced the unknown and had to be patient. I try to remember this… When things are falling apart they’re actually falling into place. Hard things are good. They help you to grow and sharpen your character.! I have also found unanswered prayers are often not unanswered at all. I always have to remind myself that I must be patient, and have faith to allow God to work in His own time. And in the words of Dolly Parton “the way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain!” So stay the course and keep praying through the difficult times in your life!

But as much as I truly believe in the power of prayer, we are human and there have been many dry spells in my prayer life… I’ve been too busy, too stressed, or just too lazy! Saint Theresa of Calcutta has a saying that “if you’re too busy to pray than you’re too busy.” And Mary would send me signs to come back to her in prayer. I remember one crisp fall day when I was in nursing school. I walked over to Georgetown hospital to apply for a job as a nurse. Looking back , I’m not sure why I didn’t go through the proper channels and submit a resume? I guess I was “old school” and decided to go from floor to floor asking if they were hiring. Every nursing unit turned me away and one unit scolded me and said I needed to go to HR! I said to myself…let me try one more unit! As I got to the 6th floor, the elevator door opened and I couldn’t believe what I saw. There stood, in the entrance, a hug life-sized statue of Mary holding Jesus. This was a pretty good sign that this was meant to be. And I got hired on the spot because my boss liked my ‘unique initiative” I guess. I send my boss a Christmas card every year with a picture of my family and a simple ‘Thank You’. As it turns out, I have been a nurse at Georgetown for the past 25 years on that very floor so I get to see this beautiful statue of Mary all the time!

When you are praying and looking for signs, you will be surprised how many you will find at just the right time! When I was about 26, I found myself trying to make a rather big decision about a relationship I was in. I was heavily burdened and confused. Around the same time, I had a patient in the hospital who happened to be a priest. I remember noticing his beautiful silver Rosary on his bedside table. One night shift weeks later as I was sitting at the Nurses station (sad and confused about my relationship issue) I noticed the Rosary. It was his Rosary tucked behind a stack of papers. As any good catholic girl, I tried to return it but never could track him down. In my heart though, I had a feeling it was left for me. It sat there for many months until I asked if I could have it… to this day as I hold it right now, it is my favorite Rosary and I like to believe it was a gift from Mary rather than stolen from a priest! It had to be from Mary. I turned to her to help me and she did. And with crystal clear clarity and without hesitation, I was able to make a very difficult decision about my relationship. I have truly thanked God ( and Mary ) every day, for without taking this sharp and difficult turn in my life, I would probably not be standing here. Who knew Mary gave good dating advice!?

One last little story… early in our marriage my husband received a very personal gift from a patient. It was a stack of hand carved olive wood rosaries from her recent trip to the Holy Land. It was a super thoughtful gift especially because there were 8 rosaries! I think we had 2 or 3 children at the time. Many years later, we became a family of 8…one rosary for each of us. A coincidence? Or a sign? I believe Mary was always waiting with open arms for me to come back to the Rosary.

As a young mom, I joined a young mothers Rosary group. This led to hosting a Rosary group every Friday at my house. We would present our intentions and then pray the Rosary over coffee! SO simple yet so transformative. Our little Rosary group gave us a deep connection to each other through Mary…truly a life- changing experience. We were inspired by Mary’s selflessness and faith as the mother of Jesus ,as she must have felt great pain watching her son die for our sins. We would give everything to her…our anxiety, our worry, our gratitude, and our joy! By praying the Rosary and giving my worries to Mary, I was able to gain peace and direction in my decisions and ultimately it deepened my faith and spoke to my heart.

I try to look at any obstacle or disappointment as a steppingstone to changes that will lead me to my best life! Our experiences help us to give witness to the power and goodness of a God- who is active and present in every area of our lives. Look at where you are now, and the spaces and relationships which God has placed you today and throughout your lifetime… sometimes you don’t see, until years later, how Gods Will for you may be different from your own. But if you trust God, he will lead you to a life of peace and joy!

When I sat down to write these thoughts, I was overcome by emotion. I felt an overwhelming feeling of gratitude towards Mary for all the “mothering” she has done in my life and the lives of the people I love. It’s overwhelming! I have given her so much to handle and she does. When you start reflecting on your life, you will see all of the little miracles happening around you! Many of us are sending our daughters off to college.

Daughters… always remember you have a spiritual mother in Mary. Call on her and learn to rely on her. She will be with you for the asking. And ask people to pray for you. Nothing warms my heart more than getting a text from my kids that says “hey mom, can you pray for me? I’m feeling stressed or I have a big test!” And the answer is always a resounding YES! Of course!

And moms when there is a situation (and there are many for me) that you don’t know how to handle with your kids, call on Mary to mother them in her gentle way and with her perfect wisdom. Make a friend and a mother in Mary and allow her to protect you, anticipate your needs and shower you with graces. What would Jesus Do? He honored and loved his mama and so should we! Enjoy Mary’s month- The beautiful month of May!

Thank you!

Written by: Rosina Aguiar (P '18, '19, '21)