Why is the rose often associated with Mary, and what does motherhood have in common with this beautiful flower? To search for answers, please join me on a virtual pilgrimage to:
- Mary’s home in Nazareth, where she loved and raised Her Son, Jesus,
- Cana, where Mary’s compassionate love and concern for all people is visibly on display,and
- The Via Dolorosa, or Way of Sorrows, where Mary met her Son, Jesus, on His ascent to death by Crucifixion.
Book Excerpt. Chapter Twenty-One: The Joy of Mercy (The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. By: Karen Sheehy)
Filled with gratitude, the new mother watched as the priest poured living water on her son’s forehead saying, “Joseph, I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Dressed in a beautiful white gown, he cooed and joyfully accepted the cleansing waters and Spirit of God. Cherishing her new little gift of life, she pondered all these things in her heart. Aware of her adoptive son’s in-utero risk exposure, she pictured a rose, beautiful but containing thorns, as she anticipated both joy and pain in their upcoming journey. Accompanied by the Spirit of God, and her husband’s bright future, she remained confident in their ability to face any hardships they may encounter. Despite her confidence, she had no idea what self-sacrificial love actually entailed and how it could possibly benefit others in the Kingdom of God, for there were so many aspects of the faith awaiting her discovery.
About 6 years back, I had the privilege of going to the Holy Land, where I walked in the very footsteps of Jesus and His Mother, Mary. As I touched and saw the spots where Love was born; born in a stable in Bethlehem and on the Cross in Jerusalem, I began to know the true meaning of self-sacrificial love and the impact it has on others. It was there, that I saw the joy and sorrow of motherhood reflected in the thorns and petals of a rose. It was there, that I encountered the Immaculate Heart of my Spiritual Mother, Mary, the perfect reflection of her Son, Jesus, Who is Love Itself.
Nazareth is the largest city in the Northern District of Israel. Within the heart of this populated region is the ancient remains of “Old Nazareth,”described in the New Testament as the home of Mary and site of the Annunciation. It was there, that Mary said, “I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say,” (Luke 1:38). This simultaneously joyful, confusing, and frightening announcement clearly represents the profound joy, uncertainty and pain often accompanying the vocation of motherhood. In this encounter, we find maternal guidance within:
- The angel’s words, “Do not fear, Mary. You have found favor with God, (Luke 1:31), which reminds us, that we too are favored by God, who alone can provide for all of our needs.
- Mary’s questioning of the angel, “How can this be since I do not know man,” (Luke 1:34), which encourages us to seek answers from the Lord in times of doubt or uncertainty.
- Mary’s “fiat” or ultimate surrender to the will of God, which reminds us to trust in the Lord, Who only desires what is for our good.
Only 4.3 miles northeast of Nazareth, one finds the town of Kafr Kanna (Cana), best known as the place where Jesus performed His first public miracle, (John 2:1-11). There, at the Wedding Feast of Cana, we witness Mary’s compassionate love and concern for all people as she says to her Son, “They have no more wine.” Despite Jesus’ reluctance, she instructs those waiting on tables to, “Do whatever he tells you.” Here, we find two more valuable lessons:
- Continually take all of your concerns to your spiritual mother, Mary, who in return will bring them to her Son, Jesus, and
- Do whatever He tells you!
Pictured below is the Franciscan Wedding Chapel at Cana and a large stone vessel, thought to be used for the Jewish rites of purification, found in its general vicinity.
This brings us to our last and final virtual pilgrimage location, the Via Dolorosa, or Way of Sorrow. This 2,000 foot winding route, located within the Old City of Jerusalem, starts at the ancient ruins of the Antonia Fortress and goes westward towards its final destination, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The Way of Sorrow contains 9 marked stops, or Stations of the Cross. The remaining 5 are located within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher itself. It is at stop number four, where Jesus meets His mother, Mary, that we find our final and most profound demonstration of a grieving mother’s love, for there we find Mary’s quiet suffering and steadfast support in the face of such profound sorrow. There, we find Mary, our spiritual mother, the perfect reflection of Love. There, we find the rose of motherhood, simultaneously lovely and pierced with thorns. Amen
Closing 3:00 p.m. prayer for Divine Mercy.
Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world.
For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).
Jesus, I trust in You.
Please click on the link below to learn more about my non-for-profit company, The Healing Eyes of Mercy, make a donation for the people of Haiti, Rwanda, or the Holy Land, shop, or read about my upcoming book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. Thank you and God Bless!