My two-year-old is a trouble seeker. Like most toddlers, he climbs couches only to jump from them. He stands on chairs and leans back as if daring them to fall. He sees ladders and countertops not as possible hazards, but as opportunities.
I, on the other hand, am the ever-vigilant mother waiting in the wings of his potentially destructive show. I am the awareness of the dangers he does not yet see or comprehend. I know what could cause his smiles to turn to tears, his pride to sorrow. And so, I drag him away from the dangers, even as he fights me and reaches back for them, crying, “Mommy, noooo!”
Such a scenario happened on a recent Sunday. We were where you will often find us after a valiant effort at making it through Mass in the pew; we were in the narthex. My son’s bottled up energy bubbled over as I placed him on the floor. He immediately ran to the candles burning brightly in rows against the wall.
“No fire,” I whispered sternly as I rushed to beat him to the flames. I picked him up just steps before he could touch them, and he promptly wailed in resistance.
But toddlers are malleable creatures. Despite their seeming determination to constantly cause themselves harm, they’re willing to be redirected to equivalent, albeit much safer, joys. And so, as my son embarrassed me with his cries, I brought him to the wall of brochures and pamphlets far from the flickering flames.
“Look,” I urged as quietly as I could, “see Jesus and Mary? Here, you can hold them.” I thrust a few brochures in his hands, and his frustration instantly turned to peace, the threatening candles out of mind and the innocuous, but still intriguing papers, before him.
As I enjoyed a moment of peace while the choir sang and my boy settled down, I contemplated Mary, our Mother, given to us by our Savior. “Am I like my toddler, dear Mother?” I asked silently. “If not,” I prayed, “I want to be.”
What I meant was not that I wanted to be defiant and difficult (though I’m sure that when it comes to God, I too often am), but that I wanted to be as dependent upon Mary as my youngest is on me.
As a mother, I pull my children away from that which I know will cause them harm. I see them on a perilous road, and, when I recognize the serious injury that will come to them should they continue on that path, I scoop in to save them.
“Blessed Mother,” I continued praying, “I am telling you in this moment of clarity that I trust you completely. I ask you right now, as the loving Mother that you are, always lead me and guide me towards what is good and steer me – or, if needed, pick me up and drag me – away from what will cause hurt. Even if I fight you. Even if I forget that I ever said this to you. Even if I tell you I take it back. I am yours – always – and I surrender myself to your Son’s will, through you. I want to belong to you as much as my children belong to me. Please don’t ever forget it.”
In that moment, for the first time in my life, I think I began to understand in a tangible way what it means to be truly devoted to Our Lady.
I had participated in my parish’s Consecration to Jesus through Mary years ago. I read the book True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort. I said the prayers. I contemplated its lessons. But I still didn’t really understand what it means to be consecrated to Our Blessed Mother. I simply accepted that on some spiritual level it made sense, but that in reality the concept was beyond my grasp.
Until this recent Sunday.
As I grabbed my little boy’s hand and redirected him to safety, the thought occurred to me that if we give her permission, Mary will do the same for us. She will wrap us in her mantle of protection and lead our souls to safety, to her Son.
St. John Damascene calls the Virgin Mary our “most secure and firm anchor.” Are we mothers not the same for our young children, who are almost constantly in danger and in need of our protection? So, too, our heavenly Mother is for us.
In True Devotion to Mary, St. Louis de Montfort begs of the Blessed Virgin, “I beseech you, therefore, receive in trust all which I possess…if you hold me up, I shall not fall; if you protect me, I shall be sheltered from my enemies.” Indeed, ever the perfect mother, Mary will not fail us.
At Fatima, Our Lady asked the children if they were willing to offer themselves fully to God, to surrender themselves completely to His will. In devoting ourselves to her Immaculate Heart, we say “yes” with the children of Fatima, abandoning ourselves completely to our Lord through His Blessed Mother.
We, like my small son, know so little. Daily, we walk towards fires that threaten to burn us or that we are in danger of spreading to others. But we have a beloved Mother who sees the perils. We have a blessed Mother who is full of graces that she desperately wants to bestow on us. We have a heavenly Mother who waits for us to entrust ourselves to her eternal care. We need only, like little souls, turn our hearts to hers and ask.
This article appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of Soul magazine.
Michaelyn Hein is a freelance writer, mother and wife who resides in Hopewell, NJ