One of the most striking themes present in the Gospels is how our Heavenly Mother would ponder or reflect on “things in her heart,” specifically when related to her son. Mary’s example demonstrates to modern parents how to go about our daily lives through pondering life’s significant moments and God’s role in them in a way that helps us grow in holiness.
This year, my goal is to take more time out to ponder, reflect, and meditate on the life of Christ. As a busy mom with a house full of children, I am always on the “go.” Learning to reflect and ponder can not only help me become more aware of significant moments in life but also grow closer to Christ.
We learn in the Gospel stories about how Mary reflected and recalled critical moments of Our Lord’s life in her heart. The Blessed Mother did not turn to gossip or even despair when life was hard; instead she turned to prayer. This she why Mary is a perfect role model to teach us how to trust in the Lord even when life seems to be full of trials and tribulations.
One of the moments that Mary had to endure with faith and confidence was when the Christ Child went missing.
But not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:45–51).
Pondering is a way of reflecting or examining a matter attentively or deliberately. “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).
For many parents, this is not how we approach family life. How often do we set patterns for our family with little thought or reflection on the impact they might have as it pertains to our faith life? For example, do we over schedule our lives or that of our children to the point that family meals or attending Sunday Mass are not happening? Do we stress academic excellence but forget to monitor screens and social media or forget to seek Christ above all things and look for ways to serve him instead of allowing Netflix to fill our free time?
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary indicates that the opposite of pondering is to disregard, to overlook, to ignore, to dismiss, to reject, to slight, or to pooh-pooh. How often do we overlook what is most important to our lives? The people, the moments, and most importantly, our God and our Catholic faith?
Do we have more time each day for prayer instead of giving it to our phones, tablets, and televisions? If we’re honest with ourselves, I think we’d all agree that we do have such time for prayer. Recently, I installed an app to help navigate the time I spend on my phone and help me to be more accountable. I learned I was spending a lot more time then I wanted to be spending! Regardless of your stage in life, consider setting aside time to ponder and pray and see how the Lord is inviting you to a deeper relationship with him.
Here are practical suggestions for growing in prayerful pondering as parents:
Pick up your beads
Consider committing to saying the rosary daily, meditate on the life of Christ, and allow the Lord to speak to you in this powerful spiritual gift. The rosary is the perfect vehicle by which to ponder the life of Christ. The rosary is structured precisely for that purpose. By meditating on the different mysteries of the rosary, one is recounting significant moments in the life of Christ and reflecting on their meaning.
Pope Leo XIII said “the rosary is all-powerful to touch the Heart of Our Lady. It is the most excellent and fruitful type of prayer for obtaining, above all, eternal life.”
Try starting with carving out time to pray one great mystery at a time and work your way from there.
The Blessed Mother is offering us not only a helpful example of how to approach our relationship with Christ but actual graces to grow in our love for Christ and navigate our daily lives.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
May we seek out Mary to lead us to Jesus, now and at the hour of our death in union with our vocation.
Carve out time to reflect on God and your life
When we set aside time to consider your life over Scripture, it is a powerful way to allow God to show you what you need to know. Pondering grows your heart and brings out things about which you might not typically think. Our lives as Christians involve building a relationship with Christ, so why not begin by “picking up the phone” and reaching out to Our Lord in prayer?
Our Blessed Mother shows us through her example that we must always strive to pray in order to follow the will of God. I choose to make my first few moments of the day a time to ponder and pray before the family wakes up.
I have found that keeping a notebook by my bed or in my purse has been a huge blessing to help me record and remember essential ideas, thoughts, and prayers.
The perfect occasion to write a few little notes in my book is during homilies at Mass so that I can return to this reflection later.
Having a simple notebook is a great way to record special moments throughout your day to later recall how God is at work in your life.
Schedule time for prayer
Recently a traveling priest shared this handy little saying to help stress the importance of devoting more time to daily prayer:
“Your schedule sets your priorities; your priorities reveal what and who you love.”
When we carve out time in our schedule to pray, we are making it a priority and setting a plan to succeed. Keeping a prayer schedule is just as crucial as recommitting to working out or playing with our children. It is a gift to sit quietly with the Lord and allow him to speak to us. When you take time out and read the Gospel stories, you can see how Jesus would step away from his busy life of ministry to spend time in quiet prayer. We, too, need to do the same.
Despite the noise that surrounds us each day, may we seek to live a life that is rooted in prayer and focused on growing closer to Christ.