What are you giving your Mom for her birthday?
That question can make people cringe, either because they have no idea what to give her, or their relationship with their Moms is strained, or because they simply forgot about it altogether.
Well, I’m here to solve all that.
First, I’ll remind you of your Mom’s birthday. It’s coming up in just a few days, on September 8. That’s the feast of the Nativity of Mary, the day the Church celebrates as our Blessed Mother’s birthday. The Church has celebrated it since the seventh century, although at various times it was celebrated on different dates. However, it has been consistently celebrated since then.
Lest you think I’m off topic, let me also remind you that Mary truly is your Mom, your Mother “in the order of grace,” as the Church teaches in the Catechism:
Her role in relation to the Church and to all humanity goes still further. “In a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Savior’s work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace.”
This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation . . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.
Yes, she is all those awesome titles, but above all, she is our Mother and she loves us more than we could ever imagine. She is constantly beside us, constantly interceding for us, and constantly showering us with her affection whether we’re aware of it or not.
Don’t you think she deserves a birthday gift?
Which leads me to the next obstacle: a strained relationship. Whenever I give a presentation about Mary or get into conversation about one of my books, I’m inevitably approached by at least one (often several) folks who “don’t get that Mary thing.”
Do you know why they don’t get it? Because they’re using their heads and not their hearts! You can’t think your relationship with Mary; you must feel it. Rationally speaking, it makes absolutely no sense that a Jewish maiden from Nazareth would give a hoot about any of us, much less become the Mother of God and the Mediatrix of graces.
If we want to “un-strain” our relationship with Mary, we have to approach her with an open heart and ask her to reveal herself to us and lead us in developing a relationship with her. She will, but we must ask. She’s not going to beat the door down.
Now, the biggie. What to get a woman who, has, well, everything.
I can help with that, too. Obviously, Mother Mary doesn’t need or want material gifts. Instead, she wants spiritual gifts. What I mean is, make a gift of intangible things we do that glorify God or give joy to others. Like any Mom, Mary is most pleased when her children behave toward each other, and toward God, with love and charity. So, here are some suggestions for gifts you can give your Mom for her birthday:
1. Get up 15 minutes earlier and say the Rosary. Ask our Blessed Mother to accept the prayers for whatever person or cause she sees as most urgent (she’s probably got a slew of them).
2. Talk to her. How many moms say, “My kids never talk to me!” Make it a point to give undivided attention to the Blessed Mother and tell her how much you love her. If your relationship with her isn’t there yet, make it a point to tell her that you want to learn how to love her – and then ask her to help you.
3. Be nice! Watch how you act and react to others. Do your best to be charitable at all times – at least for this one day.
4. Go out of you way to bring joy to someone else. This can be as simple as striking up a conversation with that guy at work who always seems gloomy.
5. Give it up. Refrain from something you really enjoy, like those jelly beans you keep in your desk drawer.
6. Do it with love. Choose one of your usual tasks, and dedicate it to Mary by doing it extraordinarily well and with genuine love.
7. Spend time with our Lord. Mary is absolutely inseparable from her Son, and she would like us to be as devoted to him as she is. Make a visit before the Blessed Sacrament and show your love to both Jesus and Mary.
8. Sing. Yep, you read that right. Sing “Happy Birthday” to Mary. If you can’t bring yourself to do it out loud, then sing it silently in your heart. Thank her for being Jesus’ Mother, and for being your mother, too.
Happy Birthday, Mom!