by Rebecca Wilson

In this month of May, we focus on the great gift that Mary is to the Church and to our lives. While on the cross, Christ gave us his mother, Mary. This was not a small gesture, but an invitation for all of us to turn to her, seek her intercession, invite her into our joyful and difficult moments, and ultimately allow her to be our mother. Just as Christ sought the presence and love of his mother during his Crucifixion, so we are presented with the opportunity to receive this same love. While without sin, Christ knew intimately the difficulties of this world and our need for healing. It was with that knowledge he gave John, and all of us, his Mother, on the Cross.

Our pilgrim journey on this earth contains seasons of joy and peace along with moments of difficulty and suffering. Living fully alive means seeking healing in sprit, mind, and body so that we can continue this journey in communion with others and with God. When looking at the areas of our life where we need healing, we can often desire healing to occur in a single moment. This can cause much frustration when healing takes longer than expected. It is often past trauma, past difficulties, lies or incorrect ways we have looked at ourselves that effect the persons we are today. One lie that permeates our world is the lie that we are alone and unloved. The beauty of Mary is that we are given a mother who sees us, who intercedes for us, and who constantly desires to bring us to her son. We are not alone, and in her we are constantly loved by a mother who seeks our eternal good.

One of my favorite images on Mary is Italian artist Caravaggio’s painting Madonna Dei Pellegrini, or Mary of the Pilgrims. In the painting, Mary is seen holding the Child Jesus. Her hand is holding onto him firmly but also gently, cradling him in her arms. With humble confidence, she holds her son. With humble confidence, she leans to the two additional figures in this painting, the pilgrims. As with most Caravaggio paintings, the role of light in the painting is of large importance. In this case, it seems as though the light is coming from Christ, and with him, his mother, and shining forth onto the others.

In the bottom right corner of the painting, we see the pilgrims. These pilgrims are seen in the images of a humble man and a humble woman, ragged in appearance, with their walking sticks and dirt on their feet who turn to Mary. With the attention of the pilgrims, Mary is seen bringing them her son. The pilgrims are worn down and tired. They are in need of healing, seeking the loving presence and guidance of a mother. And they turn to a mother, who leans to them. She brings her love, and the eternal  Love, Christ Himself, to them. She radiates Christ’s light and his love, dispelling the lie that they are alone or forgotten.

During this month of May, let us turn to Mary as did these pilgrims in this image. Let us bring to her our wounds, our past difficulties, the lies we believe about ourselves. She sees us and loves us as our Mother, through the lens of her son. As we continue on our journey of healing, of striving for wellness of the whole person, spirit, mind, and body, let us seek out our mother. Invite her to guide you to her Son, to help you recognize your dignity, your role as a beloved son or daughter leading you on the path to life fully alive.