If I get too rough, simply ignore me for a few moments, or put me in my crate with an appropriate chew toy.
You got me (I hope) because you want a loving partner and companion, so do not relegate me to the backyard when I get bigger. Do not judge me harshly but instead mold me with gentleness and guidelines and training into the kind of family member you want me to be.
Can a woman like me aspire to emulate such an amazing woman—the Virgin Mother of God, the first disciple, the matriarch of the Holy Family, and the Mother of the Church? Recalling instances in Mary’s life, we call to mind her gentleness, humility, holiness, perseverance, selflessness, and unwavering faith.
I ask myself this because I know I will never accomplish what our Blessed Mother has, or even come close to her holiness. Yet all women are called to holiness—whether in the sublime role of raising children, as a wife, as a single woman, or as a woman religious. And Mary demonstrates attributes and virtues that all women can emulate, whatever their vocation.
Mary’s deep faith was the foundation of her great holiness. Even though Mary was the Mother of God, we should remember that Mary was human like us and prayed to be unwavering in her faith, just as we also are called to do. Mary’s faith is the same gift available to us. We can ask Mary to be a mother to us and guide us closer to her Son, Jesus.
A Faithful Heart
Wanting to imitate Mary’s virtues, we may try to figure out what made her tick. Images from our Catholic tradition and Scripture may come to mind. We may be reminded of Mary as a faithful Jewish girl praying with her people in Palestine for the coming of the Messiah, the fulfillment of God’s promises. Mary was familiar with Isaiah’s words that a virgin would conceive and bear a child called Immanuel—“God with us”—but never imagined that she would be that virgin.
At times, we find ourselves in situations requiring faith in God, but our humanness causes us to feel inadequate or to fear that we are not faithful enough. When I hemorrhaged at 10 weeks pregnant with my fifth child, I was required to have faith that God’s holy will would be fulfilled, whatever it would be.
My doctor told me that I was miscarrying and conducted an ultrasound to check on the baby. When the ultrasound revealed a tiny baby with a beating heart, I was ordered to stay on complete bed rest and just wait. The doctor added that he wished the miscarriage would hurry up, saving me from further anguish.
I shuddered at his words and chose to hope instead. I rested and waited and never stopped praying. My four children bustled around me as I did my best to stay still and have faith in whatever it was that God had planned for us. I knew Bl. Teresa of Calcutta at the time, and she instructed me to call upon the Blessed Mother and to wear a Miraculous Medal that she had given me. She reminded me to trust in Our Lord, stay close to Mary, and pray, “Mary, Mother of Jesus, be a mother to me now.”
Our prayers were heard, and after a long nine months Mary-Catherine was born! In retrospect, I can understand why Our Lord may have given me another reason to pause during that pregnancy: While I was kept still, I was inspired to write about motherhood. These reflections have since been published. As a busy mother with four children and another on the way, I might never have had a spare moment to sit down to write! Our Lord knew what He was doing.
Humble Generosity and Courage
We know that when the angel Gabriel visited Mary with the announcement that she would become Jesus’ mother (Lk. 1:26–39), the humble teenager found it difficult to believe that it was she, a simple girl, who was chosen by God. Taking the blessing to heart, Mary responded with her courageous “yes” to God.
Shortly afterward, her generous heart sent her on a journey into the hill country, pregnant and “in haste,” to help her cousin Elizabeth, who was much older and also expecting a child (Lk. 1:39). Mary surely prayed and reflected throughout her journey, while the blessedness of Jesus dwelled within her. After Elizabeth’s baby leaped in her womb upon Mary’s arrival, the two women embraced. Elizabeth praised Mary for her great faith, and Mary humbly responded with the words of the Magnificat, glorifying God’s holiness, justice, and mercy, and foretelling that all generations would call her blessed because of the great things the Lord had done in her (Lk. 1:46–55).
When we question our own ability to courageously answer God with our “yes” when He bids us to follow Him, we must remember that, as women, we are also blessed with generous and courageous hearts like Mary’s. Graces are available to us to be courageous and to respond with love in all situations within our vocations. Throughout our daily lives, we are presented with many opportunities to put our own needs aside and go “in haste” to help—to help our children, our spouses, our parents, our neighbors, our coworkers, or whomever God has put into our lives.
The Simplicity of Love
Mary was led on a donkey by her beloved husband, Joseph, in search of a place to give birth and faced only rejection by the innkeepers. Soon afterward, Jesus’ infant cries were comforted at His mother’s breast in a stable. Our King and Savior was born into poverty, resting in a wooden manger of hay—hardly what is expected for a King’s birth! Angels sent simple shepherds to Mary and Joseph to see their holy baby. Mary “kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk. 2:19).
When we women face rejection in one form or another, we can pray for the graces we need to continue on, just as Mary did at the inns and later, when she felt the sting of the rejection of her Son by the very people He helped.We can imagine Mary throughout the hidden years, teaching Jesus on her knee in the warmth of their humble home. As Jesus grew, Mary surely encouraged her Son to help Joseph in his carpentry. Mary’s faith deepened in the cenacle of prayer that she fostered in the heart of her home.
Mothers, too, live through hidden years, raising their families and trying to remain simple. Especially when children are young, mothers may find themselves housebound with the care of the family, children’s illness, or infants too small to go out. Mothers can make their home a “domestic Church,” as Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have spoken of, by praying within the home, teaching the children, and thanking God for the blessedness of their families and the opportunities to care for them.
“Do whatever he tells you”
At the start of Jesus’ public ministry, sympathetic that a bride and groom were without wine, Jesus’ mother told Him, “They have no wine.” While Jesus appeared reluctant to perform His first miracle, saying that His hour had not yet come, Mary confidently told the wine stewards to “do whatever he tells you” (Jn. 2:2–11). Mary’s initiative, intercession, and obedience ultimately nudged on her Son. Thus, the power of a mother’s love brought about Jesus’ first public miracle.
Women, as mothers, have within reach the tremendous power of prayer. A mother has the ability to influence her children for better or for worse. A faithful mother’s prayers will always be heard by God. In their intercessory role, faithful mothers are forever praying for the welfare of their children, both for those living at home and for those who are grown and may have strayed away from the Church. A mother’s prayers can be just as efficacious as those of our Blessed Mother and have the power to work miracles in human hearts.
The Heart of the Home
Women can learn from Mary as one who listened to God and allowed the Holy Spirit to inspire and guide her. She gave herself completely to the will of the Father. We learn from Mary that a mother’s prayer is powerful. When we are asked to endure suffering or pain within our vocation, we can turn our thoughts to Mother Mary, who was no stranger to suffering, and ask her assistance and intercession.
When it is difficult to trust in God, we women can meditate on Mary’s faithful trust in Our Lord, drawing strength from her as we pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit. When those of us who are mothers experience the deep joy within our role, we can feel an affinity with someone who has also experienced this deep joy in mothering Jesus.
Mary’s marvelous “yes” to God changed the entire world for all eternity. May all faithful women also courageously answer Our Lord, “Let it be done to me according to your word,” as they strive to live holy lives and raise their families in a cenacle of prayer fostered in their homes, pondering it all deep within their own hearts and setting an example for all women.
Because I Love Her
I made her. She is different. She is unique. With love I formed her in her mother’s womb. I fashioned her with great joy. I remember that with great pleasure the days I created her. To Me she is beautiful. I made her. I love her smile. I love her ways. I love to hear her laugh and see the silly things she does. She is herself and no one else. This is how I made her.
I made her pretty, but not beautiful. Because I know her heart and I know that she is vain. I want her to search her heart and learn that in Me she would be beautiful. It would be My spirit that would draw people to her. I made her in such a way that she would need Me. I made her a little more lonesome than she would like to be, because I want her to turn to Me in her loneliness. I made her dependent, so that she would depend on Me. I know her heart. I know that if I had not made her like this, that she would go her own chosen way and forget about Me, her creator. I have given her many good and happy things because I love her.
I have seen her broken heart, the tears that she cried alone. Many times she has stumbled and fallen because she would not take My hand. She has learned hard lessons because she would not listen to My voice. So many times I have watched her go on her way alone, now she is Mine again.
I made her and then I bought her. I paid a high price for her because I love her. I have had to reshape her and remold her, renewing her for My plan. It hasn’t been easy for her, or for Me, I want her to be conformed to My image. This goal I have set for her because…..I love her!!!
Love Yourself —
Or You Won’t Be Able to Love Anyone ElseYou Cannot Give What You Don’t Have
by Bo Sanchez
I’ve got a confession to make.
As a young Christian, I used to believe that we shouldn’t love ourselves.
To me, loving myself was another word for selfishness.And I have an embarrassing experience to prove it. One day, as a 14-year-old kid, I went to confession and said, “Father, I play the guitar for our prayer meeting, but I sometimes feel proud whenever I play the guitar — because I know I play well.”The white-haired priest chuckled, patted me on the shoulder, and said, “Son, a part of that feeling of yours is good, wholesome pride.
That’s important in life. So go ahead and play your guitar, feel good while you play it, and have a sense of pride doing so. Love yourself, son.”I nodded my head but told myself that I would never go to this priest again.
Obviously, this priest was less spiritually than I was. So he couldn’t understand me — the way some spiritual directors misunderstood mystics. He was not in my league. I belonged to the likes of St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross.Twenty-five years later, I laugh at my arrogance.Today, I’ve grown older — and humbler. (I hope. Because someone told me that if you say you’re humble, you’re not. Gosh.)
I now feel very strongly about this truth: That I cannot love anyone else — not even God — if I don’t love myself. Why? Because I cannot give what I don’t have.
ON PROUD PEOPLE
In fact, I’ve met very few really proud people in my lifetime.Because most of what we call “proud” people are just the exact opposite: They’re very insecure people who’re so desperate to prove themselves. They brag of their achievements, they boast of their wealth and they act really bossy.But deep within, they’re desperate for someone to love them. Because they don’t love themselves.
ON HYPERCRITICAL PEOPLE
Have you met a hypercritical person?I’ve met a few of them. They love to tear others down.Somehow, they feel they have received a Divine Appointment to tell the world how rotten everyone is. So they’ll criticize this person and that person — and you almost feel that he really enjoys throwing rubbish at everyone.Are these people proud?On the contrary, I’ve discovered that these self-appointed critics hate themselves.Subconsciously, they simply project themselves onto others — so they like taking shots at everybody.I repeat my thesis: When you don’t love yourself, you’ll have a difficult time loving others.
LOOK AT HOW YOU VIEW OTHERS
Here’s a clue as to how you view yourself: Check how you view others. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself.— Cherie Carter-Scott, Ph.D Your reactions to others say more about you than they do about others.Because every human being you meet is a mirror.
Do you know that upon meeting a total stranger, you form an impression of that person in the first four minutes of your encounter? You decide in the first four minutes what you like or don’t like. These decisions will be based on facial features, tone of voice, cologne scent and your own past experiences.Your reactions to other people are really just barometers for how you perceive yourself.If you accept that, then every human encounter becomes a gift from God for you to learn about yourself. What you see in others is only a projection of yourself. So learn! What irritates you in that person? Their pride? Their rigidity? Their selfishness? Look deep inside, and you will find the same things in a slightly different form or shape.
Every time someone irritates you, or angers you, or hurts you, ask: What gift is being given to me? This person is a mirror. What is he teaching me about me? One day, I was in a meeting with a man whom I perceived to be disorganized.He didn’t come prepared for our meeting, and there was no forward planning involved, and it was as though nothing much was going to happen.As I continued to judge him, I hit the pause button and searched deep inside: Did I hate my own disorganization? And the answer was a very loud YES!So this irritation I was feeling wasn’t about this man.
It was about me — I didn’t like the part of me that was disorganized.Just being aware of these dynamics will help.Let me now try to clarify what it means to love yourself.
HOW DO YOU WANT TO BE TREATED BY OTHERS?
• “I want him to be patient with me when I make mistakes.”
• “He should be thoughtful of my needs.”
• “I would like him to give me rest when he sees that I’m tired.”
• “Yes, he should treat me out for a mother’s day off!”
After a barrage of answers like these, I turned the tables around and asked, “Now tell me, my dear women, do you treat yourself in these ways?”Their faces went blank. Finally, one woman asked, “What do you mean?”“
First, are you patient with yourself when you make mistakes? Or do you endlessly criticize yourself, replaying inyour mind your failure again and again? How many of you are your harshest critic?”I saw a raise of hands.“
Second, are you thoughtful of your own needs? Do you actually know what you need? Or are you always subsuming all your needs for the needs of your children — that you no longer know what you need?”Some women were already holding hankies over their faces.“
Third, do you give yourself rest? Or do you feel guilty when you take a break, feeling as though your own mother were there beside you, telling you to get up and do something?”Many of them nodded.“
Fourth, do you give yourself a mother’s day off? Do you actually write it on your calendar and announce to the family that you’ll take it?”I continued,“Mothers are known for recklessly not loving themselves. They act like they’re superheroes, and worse, martyrs. They’ll work and work and work until they feel depressed and die. But mothers, remember that if you don’t value yourself, you’re teaching your kids not to value themselves as well.”Here’s our problem: We like others to treat us well.But do we treat ourselves well?Many of us don’t.
Let me just share with you a few ways of loving yourself…
1. BELIEVE IN YOUR WORTH
Call it “Love Me” activities. Stuff that will refresh you, bless you, nurture you.
Watch the sunset
Read a good book
Take a long walk
Have an “alone time” every week
Have a massage
Listen to your favorite music
Have pizza with a friend
Eat fruits for breakfast
Have a salad every meal
Pray every morning
Kiss my wife seven times a day
Play with my sons daily And when you start valuing yourself, you’ll begin to realize that it’ll be easier to value others around you.Deep within you is a love tank.You won’t be able to give love if your love tank is empty. Fill up your love tank with love, and then you have something to give. Because you cannot give what you don’t have.
KBo’s Action Steps:
1. Do you love yourself? Do you feel yourself worth while? Do you accept yourself for who you are, weaknesses and all? Do you nurture yourself and take care of yourself?
2. List down “Love-Me Activities,” things that you enjoy and have always wanted to do to nurture and care for yourself.
God bless you, my dear friends…
Pope John Paul II has majestically portrayed the charism and genius of femininity in his apostolic letter”Mulieris Dignitatem”
According to the Holy Father, the essential components of women are so exemplary as regards the sincere gift of self, that this can be compared to the great mystery of the Church as Spouse united to Christ. The Pope underlines the special sensitivity that woman has for man, and, indeed, for everything essentially human, and which is expressed in the natural tendency to especially direct her attention toward some particular person.
The woman’s personality, given her tremendous capacity of love, cannot fulfill itself except by giving love to others.
Her strength lies precisely in the gift of self, and in the fact that God entrusted man to her. “Thus the ‘perfect woman’ (Proverbs 31:10) becomes an irreplaceable support and source of spiritual strength for other people, who perceive the great energies of her spirit.”
Understanding asthmaThis common disease can claim lives, so control it as early as possible.
By Dr. Sonia J. Silos
A good friend of mine in his mid-30s has had asthma since childhood. He tells me that his attacks since then have been few and far between, but that they come at the most inopportune moments. He says, “It has reminded me of its presence at the worst times: when I am elated, when I exert myself physically or at the tail end of the flu.”
Yes, living with asthma is difficult but it doesn’t have to be that way. The first step is learning about the disease and how it affects you. This will help you better understand how to treat, manage and, ultimately, control asthma.
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