Finding a Mother in Mary - Letter from Jenna Kandas
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Greetings in Christ fellow mama,
Growing up, I was never close to my mother. I have a plethora of theories as to why this was, but in short, we just never seemed to “click.” I open with this because I feel like I never had a true mother figure in my life. I never sought out my mother's advice on boys, clothes, friendships, or even my wedding dress. I felt like all around me were girls who grew up having tight bonds with their mothers - I even married into a family with a tight mother-daughter bond - and my heart always yearned for that. Not being raised Catholic, I had absolutely no idea that I already had the perfect mother who was always there when I needed her. Throughout my conversion at age 16, I fell deeper in love with the Blessed Mother. Her gentle motherhood called to me, and answered every self-doubt that filled my heart. Her generous love, merciful heart, and devotion to her Son, led me even deeper in relationship with Jesus.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was ecstatic, however the realization that I didn’t know “how” to be a mother slowly set in. I had no solid example of a healthy mother; I had never even seen a newborn besides my little brother when I was 3, let alone hold one or care for one. I had no idea how to nurture this new life, and foster a love of music, baseball, and good food. More importantly, I was clueless when it came to instilling the faith to my child, especially in a way which would stick in our current culture of death. What would I do when he grew up to be a teenager and wrestled with the faith? Or what if he wanted to leave the Church when he grew up? Or what if he discerned that he was called to marriage, and I didn’t get along with his wife so he pulled away from me? That black hole of worry? Yeah I went there, and I stayed there; this burden overwhelmed me for many months, but every time I’d take this worry to prayer, I’d hear the Blessed Mother gently affirm me that “I got this.” Sure, I didn’t grow up with a solid mother figure, but the Lord has blessed me with a community of wonderful, wise women who could never fill the void of my mother, but who each are able to mother me in their own unique way. And I have been able to learn from each of their examples and apply that to my own motherhood.
Six months into motherhood, and certainly I’m no expert, but I do firmly believe that motherhood is what you make it. It’s not about how many books one reads before baby, or how expensive the swaddle blankets are; it’s the long hours of love poured out for another, and the tiny moments of bonding that define a mother. Mary has poured out countless hours of devotion not only for her Son, but for each one of us - her daughters - and when we break down, feeling like we can no longer move forward, there she is, whispering “You got this.”
I’d like to end with a phrase that I’ve repeatedly heard my mother-in-law say, and one that is near and dear to my heart: God equips the called, he doesn't call the equipped. From the very beginning of time, He created woman to be a mother - whether spiritual or physical - and when He calls, we may not feel ready to jump in (I certainly wasn’t prepared) but if we trust Him, He will give us the skills we need to answer His call.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, MY MOTHER; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
May our merciful Lord be with you always, through the intercession of the Blessed Mother,
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Jenna Kandas is 25 and the Director of Operations and Theological Advisor for Magis Women, a ministry of Fr. Robert Spitzer’s Magis Center for Faith and Reason. But more importantly, she is mom to Benedict and wife to Chris. As a revert to the faith, Jenna encountered Jesus Christ for the first time in Adoration, which fuels her desire to help people foster an intimate and healing relationship with Jesus Christ. Jenna holds an undergraduate degree in Theological Studies with a minor in Catholic Studies from the University of Mary, and a Masters in Theology from Holy Apostles in Cromwell, CT with a certification in Bioethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center. When she isn't chasing after her active 1 year old, Jenna enjoys coffee, reading, and researching different topics.
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