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Purest of All Lilies

Fr. Donald H. Calloway, MIC, explores St. Faustina's rich relationship with the Mother of God - from her love of Mary growing up in Poland to the many passages that she devoted to ... Read more

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By Marian Friedrichs (May 8, 2009)
Imagine this. You only eat one food, but it's your favorite. It never gets boring because the taste changes subtly from meal to meal and day to day. Even the consistency varies: It's thin and thirst-quenching when you need a drink, thick and rib-sticking when your belly needs filling. You can't get overweight on it, even though you regularly engage in "emotional eating" because the food contains endorphins and because consuming it requires you to snuggle up to your favorite person in the world. While you eat, both you and the other person are flooded with hormones that make you feel all warm and mushy.

Your food contains every nutrient you need except one vitamin, which you can easily get from sunshine, so between cuddly feedings your beloved takes you for cuddly walks outside. No need to fret about germs or allergens, either. If you are exposed to one, your food will reformulate itself to protect you. And by the way, this super-diet of yours also boosts your IQ, helps you form healthy relationships, and, when it mixes with your gastric juices, kills cancer cells.

Sound good? I agree. In fact, it sounds miraculous. Impossible. Too good to be true. My friend, welcome to the world of the breastfed baby.

I did a lot of reading about breastfeeding both before and after my son's birth, and the more I learned, the deeper grew my awe of this amazing system God has developed to feed his littlest children. It was, in fact, the same kind of awe that grew in me as I read St. Faustina's Diary. I don't believe that's a coincidence. I believe milk can actually teach us a thing or two about mercy.

One of the most profound statements I ever heard about the life of Christ was from Michael Card, who said that Jesus' life was just a long string of interruptions. He came to preach and to die, but people were always begging Him to do other things: heal a loved one or themselves, free the nation of Israel from Roman tyranny.

Since my son, Isaiah, was born, I have been blessed by a sharing in that kind of life (although Jesus' love far surpasses mine and I have only one child to care for instead of an entire nation). When Isaiah is hungry, I have to drop everything and nurse him. When he's tired, cranky, anxious, or hurt, I have to drop everything and nurse him. It's my calling, and it's taken some getting used to, but when I get past the temptation to feel sorry for myself (Argh! I need to make dinner and this kid is going to pin me to the couch for half an hour!), I am keenly aware that God is honoring me with participation in a miracle. God meets Isaiah's every babyhood need through me: The gifts of my femininity and maternity become gifts of Divine Mercy.

When a mother holds her baby in her arms and nurses him, together they experience a remnant of Eden. God yearned to give our first parents — and us — nothing but goodness. He wanted to fill us with super-food for both our bodies and our souls. That's why He created the earth and made it touch heaven: so He could bathe every part of us in all things healthy and we could flourish like flowers in the sun.

Though we rejected that, He didn't give up. He sent us Jesus, who, like the best of mothers, was — and is — always willing to "drop everything" and give us exactly what we need (without any of the accompanying grumpiness we human mothers are prone to). In the image of The Divine Mercy, those powerful life-giving rays issue from Jesus' heart: the very spot where a mother nestles her baby to pass along the perfect nourishment that God has entrusted to her.

Here is a Mother's Day challenge for you. Think a little bit about mother's milk. (If the topic seems objectionable to you, remember that Mary most likely nursed Jesus for at least three years.) Learn more about the benefits if you feel so inclined. I only scratched the surface here; there are whole books about it. (One of my favorites is Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood, a slim rhapsodic volume by Sheila Kippley.) At the same time, ponder why St. Faustina so often found comfort and delight in a maternal conception of God, as when she prayed, "O my Jesus ... I beg You to keep me close to You as a mother holds a baby to her bosom" (Diary, 298).

Finally, consider this: The miracle of mother's milk can help us glimpse the supreme blessings God longs to give us. In His gifts there is nothing to harm us, nothing but pure, unalloyed too-good-to-be-true-but-oh-so-true-ness. And, like babies, all we need to do to receive them is to abandon ourselves into our Mother's arms with a little sigh and a snuggle that says, "I trust in You."

Marian Tascio is a freelance writer who lives in Yonkers, N.Y., with her husband and son. Reach her at mtascio@yahoo.com.

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M.M - May 8, 2009

An excellent article that hopefully would be read by many, esp. the expectant parents.:)

Hope that the refernce to Jesus interrupted did not refer to this book -

He , who showed us to trust with abandonement in whatever the Father's Will brought , would He have not looked at each occasion with love and compassion , as another step in trusting !

And we have the Bl.Mother who herself is The Queeen of trust, in things impossible !

Trust, the corner stone in relationships and yet so easily driven away by fear , like the flight of a Dove, that of the dousing of a Flame from the coldness of indiffrence and when that happens , there is One that we can turn to - the One who walked that Way and showed us too !

Blessings and thanks to all Mothers and all in their lives esp. for the many occasions given and recieved , to trust ,esp. in His mercy!

maryS - May 8, 2009

Greetings to all beautiful mothers all over the world,what ever races we are but in the eyes of our Lord we are all His children,and there one beautiful mother who is watching us always listening to our pleads ,she no other than Our Mother,the Virgin Mary.HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY TO ALL,I LOVE YOU!My mother Casiana,where ever you are now,I love and miss you very much.

Granellen - May 9, 2009

A marvelous article to be shared with many.

I.C. - May 9, 2009

Blissfully articulated article.Thanks.
Lord Jesus, King of mercy, give us the grace to will the will of Almighty Eternal Father of Divine Mercy.
" Whom have I in heaven but Thee?
And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides Thee."(Psalm 73 : 25).

TG - May 9, 2009

How beautifully written! God's miraculous plan for feeding and nurturing His precious little ones is so simple yet so profound! Thank you, Marian, for blessing us with this article!

Claudia - May 9, 2009

What a beautiful article! Though I had the blessed experience of bottle feeding our beautiful adopted 2 month old little girl I missed the opportunity of not being able to nurse her. But I believe in heaven anything is possible because the Infant Jesus appeared to some saints and St. Anthony even was able to hold him. Imagine how awesome it would be if we women have the blessed opportunity to nurse the Infant Jesus as well as our own baby and others!

Rebecca U - May 11, 2009

What a wonderful article, Marian. Happy Mother's Day and thank you for promoting breastfeeding. As a Catholic nursing mother, I have learned more about Our Lord and His Mercy through ecological breastfeeding than through all the books I read in school on Catholic theology. Following God's natural plan is so beautiful and rewarding. Today so many mothers (Catholic and non-Catholic alike) miss the rewards of following God's natural plan since the media is so skilled at convincing us that bottle feeding is so much easier, that our bodies aren't capable of giving birth, and that we need to have our babies dependent on mother substitutes in order for us to get enough time for ourselves. And doesn't Our Lady teach us that Catholic motherhood is about being selfless...doesn't Our Lord Himself teach us that we must die to self? These messages run so contrary to our culture, and as mothers, these messages are the opposite of what we are being told by society. Thank you for speaking up and writing so poetically about this correlation between selflessness, mercy, and nursing...a correlation which so many of us Catholic nursing mothers know and experience every time we bring babe to breast, but which few of us are able to articulate so eloquently.

Leila - May 11, 2009

Whenever I remember breastfeeding my children,I get a warm peacefilled feeling like it was yesterday... and it was over 30 years ago! This was a great reminder of what a precious blessing our Lord gave me ...Breastfeeding brings us close to our children and even closer to God!

Lili - May 19, 2009

Yes, this is a beautiful article about how to celebrate motherhood and life. God is good with us an in his infinite Mercy he allow us to taste heaven with beautiful experiences such as breastfeeding. When I breastfeed my baby y relate to the glory of the resurrection but we had gone also to the pain of the passion. Breastfeeding is a joyful and also a painful experience and reminded us about God's Mercy for us.

book reference - May 1, 2016

A link to the book the author describes is at the author's natural family planning and breastfeeding site site: www.nfpandmore.org "Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood"