My Jewish Mother

Italy, Florence, SculptureThere is much ado about the Blessed Mother, although I am not quite sure why. As a non-Catholic, I never really understood why loving Mary was wrong. But I must admit as a Jewish girl, I had no idea that I was even a Protestant. But it was the Protestant church that hurled me into Catholicism. Wait, what? Well let me tell you…

There was much talk about the Catholic church in the non-Catholic realm. Interestingly enough, sermons about how Catholics worshipped idols and how their love for Mary was misplaced for God peaked my interest. But my curiosity was heightened while driving home one day and listening to my everyday 3 p.m. “Christian” radio program.  The host had on an author who was discussing how to proselytize Catholics, and why they were so lost and, bad. I can’t explain it except to say the anger that welled up inside my heart was palpable, especially when the author described the Catholic church’s misguided devotion to Mary and all that she stood for. That was the day I realized I was a “Protestant” Christian. That was the day I began to question why my anger burned every time the Catholic church was chewed up and spit out on the pulpit.

And when God made me a Catholic, my greatest struggle was with the Blessed Mother. I wanted to love her, but was afraid. The world I came from filled me with fear that if I loved her I was committing idolatry, and placing her in the place of God.  I had read all of the Catholic apologetics I could stand, but it made me even more afraid…

I entered the church and ran from her. She was on the left side staring at me, not saying a word. In my heart it was wrong and that meant that I couldn’t be Catholic. But that just could not be because, well, it wasn’t my choice to be Catholic in the first place…

Then came the second radio show.  Father was listening to a caller whose child had drifted away from the faith. The advice was simple and rolled off the priest’s tongue so matter-of-factly.

“Give him to Mary. That’s what I do. Place him in her loving arms. “

I was so desperate. My husband was home and I was attending three to four masses a weekend so that my children could receive the full grace of the mass. I would go with each one alone so the transition felt natural, explaining the mass as it processed. And the 7:30 am mass was reserved for me, to bring my tears to Jesus. Tears of joy that I had come home, and those of pain that my husband had not.

And after so many masses and passings of Mary as I blessed myself with holy water, it was Father Larry’s words that brought me such great comfort. So I stood before Our Lady of Guadalupe  and repeated what Father Larry told me,

“Blessed Mother, I give you my husband and place him in your loving arms. Please carry him to Jesus.”

It was as simple as Father had said. I still didn’t believe. But I wanted so badly for her to love me, to know that I could love her too. Because to me, it was too good to be true. Could Mary do the impossible?

I prayed that prayer everyday. Whether it was in the church, the chapel or my closet. I desperately tried to love her. And slowly I began to realize, she had already been loving me.

I’ve placed a lot of people in Mary’s arms. The sick, the lost and the unbeliever. I can see them there, so tired. I see the Pieta.  I see her carrying them all to Jesus.

And it’s not that I’m afraid to ask God. It’s like one of my dear friends told me,

“The nuns used to say when God shuts the door, Mary opens the windows.”

I imagine the wedding at Cana. I imagine the crucified Jesus on the lap of His mother. I imagine the swollen belly of our Mother, the carrier of God. She is the entrance, the tabernacle, the way to Jesus. 

If you don’t believe me, just ask my husband where He is now…


15 thoughts on “My Jewish Mother

  1. Oh, Melissa, I love that: When God shuts the door, Mary opens the windows. And I see that not as an act of defiance, but as the young Jewish girl whispering in God’s ear, “One more chance, Lord, just for your shayna maideleh, yes?”

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  2. A great personal witness. I am a cradle Catholic and often have felt afraid at times to venerate Mary. It’s not that I didn’t ever accept Catholic doctrine, but that I didn’t want to allow protestants the opportunity to say, ” I told you so!” or something of the nature.

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    1. I totally get that. When I became a Catholic, Mary was my greatest struggle. But I knew if I was to become Catholic, I had to love Mary and find a place for her in my life.

      I listen to Jennifer Fulwiler on the Catholic channel and she had a wonderful guest on with some wonderful advice.It was about praying and asking Jesus to help us grow closer to Mary. I don’t remember the exact words of the prayer, but it was something along those lines. I prayed that prayer even though I was scared. And I also gave people over to the Blessed Mother’s arms, trusting that she would take them to Jesus.

      For me, she is esteemed among women. When I feel I don’t have any words, I know she understands and is there. I pray and ask for her help especially when I find I have lost Jesus, or lost my way. And every time, she leads me right back to him.

      Mary has always been such a beautiful part of the church. She is a vessel, the way to Jesus.

      I understand how you feel. I finally said today, I love you Mary and I don’t care who knows!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Never be afraid to love Mary too much. You can never love her more than Jesus…St maxilian Kolbe (I hope I got his quote right) amazing path that you have taken! If you have not already, look into making a total consecration to Mary, it takes 33 days and you pick a day where it ends on a Marian day.

    Liked by 1 person

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