I know a mom who was faced with the prospect of divorce for conceiving her son out of wedlock. She had to travel a great distance late in her third trimester for a government census. When it came time to give birth to her child, she was out on the streets. No medical professionals were present when her son was born. Having no other resources, she laid him in a feeding trough for animals. She then fled her homeland to protect her son’s life.
Just this past week, we celebrated her triumphant Assumption into heaven. It’s safe to say things worked out in the end for Mary, the Mother of God. But, fast forward two thousand years halfway across the world to Phoenix, Arizona and moms are still going through these same things: homelessness, divorce, transition, lack of resources, government hurdles, and violence.
In my time here at Maggie’s Place, I’ve seen moms struggle to overcome each of these adversities. Their stories are complex and heart-wrenching, but they are not alone. Life at Maggie’s Place revolves around genuine love, warm hospitality, a supportive community, and striving for excellence. And the greatest of these is love.
Mary models this sacrificial love, par excellence. She taught us that carrying and raising a child, while not easy, is the most sacred calling. Her fiat, her yes to bearing the son of God, made her the most influential woman in history (someone should tell TIME Magazine!). Furthermore, she never left her son’s side, whether seeking him out when he was lost in the temple or standing by his side at the foot of the cross.
And she doesn’t leave our side either.
A beautiful reminder of this happened early in my time at Maggie’s Place. The Hannah House is blessed with some stunning statues of our Blessed Mother. One steamy June afternoon, I was squeezing in a FaceTime call to a friend, and as I shared my trials and tribulations, I absentmindedly propped my arm up on her. I asked him if he thought it was somehow sacrilegious. He replied without hesitation:
“No, Tia. Right now is when you need to lean on Mary.”
In these months at Maggie’s Place, she has been a steady source of consolation. Her motherly guidance and tenderness can be counted on to bring our requests to the feet of Jesus, whether that be for safe travels during rush hour or the provision of paper plates (you can’t make this stuff up!). As MissionCorps, we ask for her intercession each morning and evening as we pray together. We recite her Magnificat, her praises of thanksgiving to God, every day at evening prayer. We love her so much that two homes, The Mary House and The Fiat House, have been named in her honor!
In all things, she continually points us back to the love of God, the One who casts down the mighty from their thrones and raises up the lowly, fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich away empty, scatters the proud and shows mercy to those who fear Him.
She is our Maggie’s Place mom.
By Tia Westhoff, a MissionCorps member