September 27, 2019

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Mary doesn’t tire of being called upon for help

Sean GallagherOn a day when my Grandma Opal had a number of grandchildren at her farm, she kept hearing one child after another calling out her name to ask her for something.

Finally, she had had enough. “Grandma! Grandma! That’s all I ever hear. Just call me Honolulu!” Thus a nickname for her was born.

As the youngest of her grandchildren by some years, I often got to visit her and Grandpa by myself. So, I really didn’t understand that story for a while.

Then I became the father of five boys. I shared the story once with my wife, Cindy. More than once since then, after hearing the boys’ litany of requests (often demands), I’ve heard her say, “Just call me Honolulu!”

Cindy and I, of course, love our boys very much. But they’re human, just as we are. At times, they can be focused almost entirely on their own desires and can treat us like vending machines.

And at times, Cindy and I, despite our love for our boys, can boil over in frustration when one too many rapid-fire demands have been made of us.

This has happened so many times in our family over the 17 years that we’ve had children and with such regularity that it could be called our own “Old Faithful” (although I suspect that since this probably happens in most families, it’s not really our own).

I pray that each of us, myself at the head of the list, cooperate more fully with God’s grace so that we can handle the often-irritating challenges of daily family life with greater harmony.

The Blessed Virgin Mary was as human as Cindy, myself and our boys. She lived in a world marred by the ongoing effects of original sin as we do.

The difference is that she is a perfect human example of freely choosing to cooperate completely with the grace of God to conform herself to his will, thus also making it her own.

But did Mary have it easy as a parent? After all, she only had one child and he never sinned. But one can be sinless and still make life difficult for others. Consider the grief that Mary and Joseph experienced when the young Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem for three days.

And then, of course, there’s the depth of agony she experienced while standing at the foot of the cross.

Mary, whom we acknowledge as “full of grace,” needed all of that grace to endure the trials of her life on this Earth as the Mother of God.

Each of us parents need all of the grace that God offers to us through the sacraments to carry the daily crosses of our vocations, including having a constant stream of demands made upon us. It’s up to us, though, to choose to cooperate with that grace that flows into our lives at every moment of every day.

Sometimes it comes to us through Mary’s prayers. All around the world, every day there is a constant stream of Catholics who call on Mary for her help. And the perfect loving mother of us all that she is, she loves hearing those prayers and then praying for us all to her Son.

Mary never tires of being called on for help by her spiritual children. I don’t think she’ll ask to be called “Honolulu” anytime soon.

With October now upon us, a month traditionally dedicated to Mary, maybe we parents can turn to her more frequently, especially in the rosary, for her help with our daily crosses in caring for our children—and their many requests and demands. †

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