By Kimberly Hahn
Of the numbers of treasures Scott and I discovered in the Catholic Church, one of the greatest has been Mary. Initially, we both observed her as the wrapping of the gift – the box that held Jesus. Then we realized that she, in fact, is an amazing gift as well.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton became a mentor of sorts for me, opening my heart to the fullness of the Faith and especially to Mary. While I was preparing to be received into the Church, I read a book about her. She was married – open to life – and prayerfully studied the Faith, considering conversion at what she knew would be great cost to her and to her family. And the fact that she homeschooled, as I had begun to do, also drew me to her.
Mother Seton experienced so much loss– the death of her mother when she was three, the death of her beloved husband and resulting financial instability, the rejection of almost all family members when she became a Catholic, and eventually the losses of her daughter and sister-in-law in death, both of whom had followed her into a new order she had founded. Mother Seton knew Mary stood at the foot of the cross, willing her own self-offering in union with her son’s, for Elizabeth’s soul’s sake. She knew Mary’s experience of loss and strength through faith would be a source of comfort and support to her. She welcomed Mary both as an example of motherhood in the past and, even more, Mary’s love and prayers for her in the present.
Mother Seton’s love and devotion to Mary are documented in “Finding Mary,” the latest installment in the “Seeker to Saint” video series that tells the story of this American saint and her spirituality. The videos are produced by the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and can be viewed here. “Finding Mary” was released on Mother Seton’s feast day on Jan. 4.
When I was confident that I would be seeking reception into the Church at the Easter Vigil in 1990, Scott asked me who would be my confirmation saint. That was easy – Elizabeth, for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Then he pulled out a first-class relic of hers which he had received from another convert specifically for me. She was already praying for me and opening my heart to the love and prayers of Our Blessed Mother.
Though Scott wasn’t adopted, he felt as if he’d found his birth mother in Mary. To me, she seemed like a second mother-in-law – I loved her initially because I loved her son, but though we were now related, I didn’t know her and knew it would take time to get to know her. And I wanted to – it just took time for the emotional feelings of love to flow naturally.
I prayed about how to connect emotionally with Mary. One day, a visiting college student saw a penny on my kitchen counter. She mentioned that her mother always offered her a penny when she found it, saying, “Never forget – your mother loves you.” I knew that was my answer to prayer.
From that time to the present, whenever I find a penny, I thank God for Mary’s love for me. Then I thank Mary directly for her love and prayers for me. And finally, I find a child or grandchild and offer the penny saying, “Never forget – Mother Mary loves you and I love you!” I cannot tell you how many times I have found pennies in unexpected places and it’s a beautiful reminder of Mother Mary’s love and prayers for me.
Kimberly Hahn is the wife of Scott Hahn for 42 years, mom of six, nana for twenty-one. In her spare time, she is a speaker (including a weekly podcast on marriage and family life, “Beloved and Blessed”), Council-at-Large for Steubenville, OH, and an author, including Rome, Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism, Chosen and Cherished: Biblical Wisdom for Your Marriage, Graced and Gifted: Biblical Wisdom for the Homemaker’s Heart, Beloved and Blessed: Biblical Wisdom for Family LIfe, and Legacy of Love: Biblical Wisdom for Parenting Teens and Young Adults.