I'm very pleased to introduce Marge Fenelon to you today. She's sharing a beautiful message here at "Catholic Moms Talk." Marge is a longtime contributor to a variety of Catholic and secular publications - including Our Sunday Visitor and National Catholic Register. She's a contributor to Catholic Lane, Integrated Catholic Life, and CatholicMom. Her column, The Whirl, appears in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald and has won favorable reviews from laity and clergy alike. She's the author of two devotionals and four full-length books. Her latest book, Imitating Mary: Eight Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom, will be released by Ave Maria Press in Spring 2013.
Marge is a regular guest on Catholic radio and holds a B.A. in Journalism/Public Relations from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a Certificate in Spiritual Mentoring from Cardinal Stritch University, and a Certificate in Marian Studies from the International Marian Research Institute. She spent several years as a public relations consultant.
Marge and her husband, Mark, are members of the Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt and assist in the faith formation of young couples in the movement. They have four children ages 26 to 16 who, combined with a rocket of a dog named Daisy, configure the fun-loving and sometimes outrageous Fenelon Clan.
Entrusting our Faith to Mary
“Let us entrust this time of grace to the Mother of God, proclaimed ‘blessed because she believed’ (Lk 1:45),” wrote Pope Benedict XVI in his apostolic letter proclaiming the Year of Faith, Porta Fidei.
This last line of the Holy Father’s letter is impactful for many reasons. The most obvious is that he chose to summarize his proclamation by referring us to Mary. The letter in its entirety is beautiful, and I encourage you to read it – and re-read it – over the coming year. It’s packed with wisdom and inspiration. But the fact that he closes by pointing us to our Blessed Mother holds great bearing for us as Catholic moms.
The Church teaches that Mary is the model for all Christians. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (967) states, “By her complete adherence to the Father's will, to his Son's redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church's model of faith and charity. Thus she is a ‘preeminent and . . . wholly unique member of the Church’; indeed, she is the ‘exemplary realization’ (typus) of the Church.”
The pope’s words echo that reality, but he takes it a step further. Not only are we to look to Mary as an example, but also we are to entrust our faith to her. True, faith is a gift only God can give, yet Mary, as Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix, and “by her manifold intercession, continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation.” (CCC 969) If we ask her, she can and will intercede for us in the obtainment of the graces we need for a vital and ever-deepening faith.
Mary understands the kinds of obstacles we face in our faith life. On a number of occasions throughout her own life, she was faced with situations that required tremendous faith. You might even say that her faith was “tested” in the sense that she was asked to accept and endure things that the average person would have found impossible to respond to in faith.
Can you imagine what the Annunciation was like for Mary? An angel appeared to her and told her that she was to become the Mother of God. What would you have done in Mary’s place? If it had been me, I’d have been blown away by the angel’s appearance, muchless his announcement! Then there’s the Flight to Egypt. An angel appeared to Joseph and told him that he’d have to take the Holy Family and flee to Egypt immediately. Have you ever had to pack up at a moment’s notice and move to a foreign country without knowing anything about what lay ahead? Mary did. Has your child’s life ever been threatened? Mary’s was. I wonder if we think so often about the Passion that it becomes matter-of-fact for us. Were any of your children ever falsely accused of wrong-doing? Mary’s was, and He was crucified for it.
Although she is completely holy and worthy of veneration, Mary experienced all of the above scenes on a completely human level. Free from original sin, she welcomed God’s will – no matter what it entailed – in perfect love and submission. Yet, she also welcomed His will with the same joys, surprise, confusion, and heartache with which we strive to welcome God’s will in our own lives. Because of her holiness, she was able to give an unconditional “yes” to whatever God asked of her, and to follow along in profound faith – the kind of faith for which we must strive as mothers ourselves.
As we beg God’s grace and struggle to increase our faith, we can petition Mary’s help in doing so because she’s been there. She understands. On a daily basis, and with the simplest of prayers, we can entrust our faith to Mary with confidence that she will advocate, help, benefit, and mediate for us.
Marge’s latest book, Imitating Mary: Eight Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom will be released Spring 2013 by Ave Maria Press. You can find Marge online at: www.margefenelon.com