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Contemplating Mary as the mother of Jesus as we prepare for Christmas

Mary and Jesus lock eyes and fingers in the painting “Mater Divinae Providentiae,” by Scipione Pulzone around 1580 .

Each year the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated in the Catholic Church on Dec. 8. To become the mother of Jesus, Mary, from the moment she was conceived, was made special by God. This is what the day celebrates, that Mary was born without sin.

As the home of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Providence, the Sisters of Providence pray daily for Mary’s intercessory prayer, particularly on behalf of families. Each year the sisters also host a “Retreat for Busy Catholic Moms” which allows time for women to come together for a fun, spiritual weekend. Those in attendance spend time at the shrine and are encouraged to write about their experience. One such mom, Bridget McIntyre, attended the retreat last year. As an undergrad at Indiana University she was introduced to the Sister of Providence.  Since then, she has enjoyed visiting the Woods for retreats and reflection. Bridget lives in Bloomington, Indiana, with her husband and three sons. She writes:

“Being on retreat at The Woods allows sacred time to pray at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Providence. Prayerfully gazing at the image of Mary and Jesus, my eyes focus on Mary holding the fingers  of  her newborn Son — or is it Jesus holding onto the hands of Mary? This posture of mother and child is familiar as a mother of three sons. Many cherished moments of my motherhood are cradling our infant sons; grasping soft-skinned fingers; gazing into deep mysterious eyes.  These cherished moments are prayerful moments when God’s grace embraces, hugs tightly, and washes away feelings of fatigue, doubt or fear.  God embraced Mary and her infant Son just as she embraces our sons and me.

At the Retreat for Busy Catholic Moms, the Sisters of Providence offered spiritual support and guidance to my vocation of motherhood.  Their practical and compassionate understanding of being a mother reflects the example of Our Lady of Providence. Together, all of these women understand that God embraces, holds us tightly and washes away doubt and fear. The care provided to women and children is possible because of our Provident God.

The picture of Our Lady of Providence remains in our home. When I prayerfully gaze at the picture, I remember God’s love through Mary’s example of mothering to Jesus, our Lord. I also remember the feelings of contentment and renewal while on retreat at The Woods. While I walked on the nature trail, ran along the campus roads and sauntered around the Labyrinth I knew the sisters were praying for my intentions resting at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Providence. Through intercessory prayer to Our Lady of Providence, God’s grace embraces me in my home, with my family, and everywhere I go.”

As we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and prepare for Christmas this advent, let us contemplate Mary as the mother of Jesus.

The Sisters of Providence will host the 2018 Retreat for Busy Catholic Moms,  Feb. 9-11. Sister Mary Montgomery, SP will be the presenter. For more information click here.

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Sister Mary Rita Griffin

Sister Mary Rita Griffin

My ministry is sharing spirituality with people especially through Our Lady of Providence related to family, prayer and spirituality. An important part of this ministry is responding to prayer requests through the internet with petitions coming not only from the United States but from countries throughout the world. Mary and Joseph knew both the sufferings and joys that surrounded the upbringing of Jesus and for this reason parents can count on the intercession of Mary as she interceded with her son at the Wedding of Cana.

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  1. Avatar Gwen Johnston on December 13, 2017 at 10:38 am

    I lived for many years in Bloomington.
    I taught at St. Charles and my husband was working on Ph.D.
    They were happy years for us.
    When there, we adopted a child from China.
    She’s now a retired teacher and my best friend.
    My husband was an archaeologist and,unfortunately,
    developed a lung decease.
    He was first in world to have a lung transplant
    at Toronto General Hospital. It lasted for a few years.
    Gwen Johnston,Peterborough,Ontario,Canada

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