Fruit of the Mystery: Love of Neighbor
She Wants to Help Us, Too
It was my 24th birthday, the second day home with my second baby, when my husband had to return to work and my mother-in law back home. As we said our goodbyes, I felt a sense of panic. I was all alone, freshly post-partum, with a newborn and a one-year-old to take care of on my own.
Our daughter was a surprise; we didn’t plan to have another baby so soon after our son. We had just moved back to Iowa after living in several other places due to my husband’s military training. The first time we lived in Iowa, we had never really settled in and formed a community. Now, we were back, and I didn’t have anyone I could call for help.
Before we moved back to Iowa, my husband had been away at Ranger School, and my son and I had stayed with my parents in Virginia. My husband and I had lived separately for a few months, and after we moved back to Iowa, we had to adjust to living together again. Understanding each person’s schedules and needs after being separated for so long was an adjustment. With all of these changes happening in my life, I felt lonely. I longed for a friend to lean on.
That was a challenging year for us, but we eventually did settle down here. I transformed from being too scared to leave the house with two little kids to working part time and developing a community of friends.
I believe that God puts situations and people in our lives at just the right moment. One of my co-workers at the parish where I worked encouraged me to attend a women’s retreat. It was at this retreat that my faith really grew. I even joined a faith formation group, which I am still part of today.
My husband and I also joined a gym together and found a great community there. We have met so many wonderful people, and the coaches help us grow not only physically but mentally as well.
Soon, God decided to put another person into my life: I found out that I was pregnant with my third child. This pregnancy and post-partum experience were completely different from the year before. Our community of gym friends and church friends were there for us, supporting us along the way.
They modified the workouts so I could still participate; they threw us a surprise baby shower; and after my daughter was born, the church community started a meal train where families brought meals to us a few times a week. This meal train lasted for about six weeks and made our lives easier as we transitioned to being a family of five. We have been so blessed to have our wonderful community!
At the beginning of the year, my devotion to the rosary grew. I have always loved the Joyful mysteries, but when I reflect on the second mystery, the Visitation, I can see how much I have been blessed by the fruit of this mystery: love of our neighbor.
Mary understood how important it was to help her neighbors. She received the wonderful news from the Angel that she was going to be the mother of Jesus, and she also received the news that her cousin, Elizabeth, who had struggled to have kids, was pregnant, too. The first thing Mary did after receiving this news was not to think of herself but to make the journey to visit Elizabeth and help her during her exciting time.
I love this mystery, because Elizabeth was so moved to see that Mary had blessed her by coming to her aid. Elizabeth knew who Mary was carrying, and it is from this passage that we receive the second half of the Hail Mary: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!
Another reason I love this mystery is because Elizabeth is not the only person thrilled with Mary’s presence. Her unborn baby, John the Baptist, “leaped in her womb” (LK 1:41) when he realized that Jesus was so close to him. This passage highlights the humanity of babies in the womb. In this time where many lives are lost, can we not also apply “love of neighbor” to all the unborn babies of the world?
We should never undervalue the power of prayer. Mary gave us the best example of helping our neighbor when she went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth. Now, she wants to help us, too. Saying the Rosary and asking for her intercession is a powerful way to receive her aid.
Now that I have grown in faith, I look back on the times of struggle in my second pregnancy and know that Mary would have helped me if only I had asked.
It’s been three years since then, and we’re (unexpectedly!) expecting baby number four. The thought of having four children under four years old is overwhelming. At times, I feel scared and angry that things did not go according to our plans.
But now, I know that I have the support of my community and friends and that they will be there for us again. I also have Mary to guide me. I purchased a rosary with birthstones on it for the month that this baby is due. I have been praying with it often, offering up my mixed emotions and praying for his or her health, because although this baby is unplanned, he or she is not unloved.
When I pray with this special rosary, I also pray for all of the unborn as a way to love my neighbors. I trust in Mary’s intercession and love for us, confident that she will give me the grace to turn my struggles into joy and bless those I pray for as well.
Thank you, Mother Mary, for showing us how to love our neighbors!
About Michelle: Michelle Nott is a stay at home mom to four kids. She enjoys having family time, writing for her blog, Raising Small Things with Great Love, crocheting, baking, and reading. For more from Michelle visit her blog.