Monday, March 17, 2008
Book Review: Behold Your Mother
As a Catholic convert, Heidi Hess Saxton had to learn to have a meaningful relationship with Mary, the mother of Jesus. In Behold Your Mother, she shares her "own story about how [she] came to regard Mary as [her] own spiritual mother, and reflect upon her earthly life as well as her heavenly vocation."
As an adoptive mother, Saxton feels very connected with Mary's role as our adopted mother. Jesus gave Mary to all of us as our mother while he was on the cross. Some respond to this motherhood quite naturally. Many of us, especially those raised as cradle Catholics, can't imagine not thinking of Mary as our spiritual mother. Others, such as Saxton, need to be invited into that relationship. In the first part of "Behold Your Mother," she shares how she came to know and love Mary. Saxton compares it to when she was first caring for her foster children. As painful as it was, she had to wait for them to come to her before they could forge a bond. Saxton states that Mary "waited for me to express my need . . . such as someone to sit with me in Church when I was feeling lonely, or safety for my children and me in a time of perceptible danger . . . and then found a way to fill it."
The second part of "Behold Your Mother" offers reflections on the life of Mary. Each reflection offers a quote from scripture or other sources that offers a glimpse of Mary. There is then a reflection and a prayer. Many of Saxton's reflections are truly beautiful, offering great insight into the life and heart of Mary, such as this reflection on the birth of Jesus:
The wind moaned, the straw prickled.
You closed your eyes to shut out the dirty animals
and the pacing husband,
and you dreamed of home.
Did you wish for your mother?
Before you could always count on her,
but you are mother now.
Saxton also explores the humanity of Mary:
I am exhausted! This child of Yours has not slept
for three nights running . . . and my breasts are tender
pomegranates . . . and, I could weep from sheer frustration.
"Behold Your Mother" was written for those just coming to know Mary, but it is a wonderful source of reflection for those of us who already love Mary and turn to her as our mother. It is a brief book, but it is full of meaning and value. It is a reminder of the importance of Mary in God's plan for salvation, as well as her role in our lives. Jesus followed the commandment to "Honor thy mother and father." He wants us to honor our adopted mother. Through honoring Mary and forging a relationship with her, she brings us to her divine son.