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Why Catholic Mothers View Mary as the Paradigm of Motherhood


In recent years there has been much controversy over the place of women in our societies. There is a huge focus on equal rights among genders and, in fact, that gender should not be considered at all in terms of everything from education to professions and even within the family. That’s as it should be, and that is not being disputed. However, the Virgin Mother Mary has always been seen as the paradigm for motherhood within the Catholic faith. Let’s look at that for just a moment to see exactly what that means.

A Child-Focused Role

As a mother, women understand that they are given a child to raise and release. Mary always knew that birthing and raising the Son of God meant total sacrifice in literally every aspect of her life. Yes, there were moments of joy, the same as in any mother’s life, but she always knew from the moment she agreed her timeless “Your will be done,” she knew that it was all about the child. She was being blessed with a baby to raise and release, one for the good of all.

Why We Pray to Mary

You will often see Christian women kneeling in church, rosary beads in hand, praying to the Mother of God. So many people misunderstand what they are seeing and erroneously assume Catholics are praying to Mother Mary as if she was a deity. What they are failing to understand are the actual words and meaning of the “Hail Mary.” The all-important line is “pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.” Catholic women are beseeching the Holy Mother to intervene for us with her son, the Son of God, second person in the Trinity. Catholic mothers understand that they are asking the mother of God to talk to her son about our needs, spiritual and worldly. She is not a goddess, but the only woman in history chosen by the Father to bear his Son.

A Timeless Understanding of Motherhood

Throughout all ages, it is the mother who first interacts with the baby. Even though fathers are present in the home and also play an active role in communicating with their children, it is the mother who first holds and nourishes baby with the milk her body has produced. Traditionally, it is the mother who teaches and corrects a child from their earliest years. There are even Bible passages in which Mary chastised the young Jesus for acting contrary to Joseph and Mary’s edicts. When Jesus strayed and was lost in the temple, she admonishes him for worrying her. Isn’t that what any mother would do when fearing for their child’s wellbeing if they’re suddenly out of sight?

Even if you reject the traditional concept of family and motherhood, it’s impossible to deny the role a mother plays in the life of her child. Having said that, we must also recognize that none of us are perfect. Mary, having been chosen by the Father, is as close to perfection as it gets. With her as a paradigm for motherhood, we can learn much about what it means to be a mother. 

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