I grew up with a
“wire monkey” mother 
—actually worse than a wire monkey because she was hostile and cruel—and my life has
been a mess. Anger. Rage. Eating disorders. Pornography. Drugs. Alcohol. Failed
relationships with boyfriends. I’ve seen your website, and I want to make it up to
God. I want to become Catholic. But Jesus tells us to love him, and I don’t know what
love is. How can I love him if I never knew love from my mother, and if I never loved
anyone, not even myself?
sympathize with you because I’ve heard
it and seen it before. You are one among many. Millions of children have been raised in
darkness and chaos, and millions are being raised even now in darkness and chaos. Their
pain and despair fill the world with spiritual agony.
Nevertheless, when Jesus calls anyone to Him,
He does not ask for something impossible. Yes, it can seem impossible that those who have
grown up with anger, hate, and cruelty could manage to find love in their hearts. But it’s
not impossible. Jesus does not play games with us, taunting us with impossible lures. So
where is the hope?
The hope has been around for ages, but Saint
Louis Marie de Montfort spoke about it with clear confidence: To Jesus through
Yes, Mary. If you want to see motherly love,
look at any icon of her. As she holds her Son, she smiles with a smile of tender love.
It’s a gentle smile, and it’s a smile of love for God. It’s not a dramatic
celebrity-show-your-teeth appeal to be noticed. It’s a quiet smile.
someone might say, “Well, icons are human creations, so what else can be expected other
than human sentimentality?”
Well, consider then the image of Our Lady of
Guadalupe. She has the same quiet, gentle smile that can be found on icons through the ages.
And this image was made supernaturally.
But this isn’t the end of the
What makes Mary’s smile so unique and
divine? Unlike mere human sentimentality, Mary’s smile reaches to the depths of
sorrow and suffering, and it reaches to the heights of love. Mary’s smile, her smile
of love for God, is also her love for the Cross.
When Jesus was born, He was born to be
crucified. Mary knew that. And Mary knew that her heart, the heart that loved her Son,
was meant to be pierced with sorrow.
This all means that when you look to Mary
for comfort, as serious Catholics have done through the ages, you are looking at the
fullness of love. It’s a love that is far more than mere sentimentality because it is
a love that understands suffering.
This Is Love
So what does this mean to you? Well,
remember, To Jesus through Mary. Even if your mother was an emotionally lifeless
wire monkey, and even if your life has been a chaos of suffering, loving Jesus is not a
task that is impossible for you. If you turn in prayer to Mary and let her gentle smile
of love for God and love for the Cross touch your heart, your journey to Jesus can begin.
Look at her and say, “This is love.” Then say, “Teach me your love that I might
One Critical Element
Be advised, though,
of one critical element to this process. You must desire to let Mary’s love pierce your
heart. You must desire it more than anything else. You must desire it more than anger,
hate, and lust. Those sins have been your friends and protection all your life. If you
cling to them, you will remain stuck in chaos. Now, if you want to learn how to love, it
will take courage to renounce your old comforts. All the pain and suffering of your life
is not an obstacle to love for Jesus. The only obstacle is your refusal to desire the
highest desire of all: absolute love for God.
So look at Mary’s smile, and say, “This is
love.” And when any thought or image of your old ways arises as a
temptation, say, “This is wrong. This is not love. I
renounce it. Let it go.”
It’s constant, hard work, but if you desire
it you can succeed.
The term “wire monkey” derives from the psychological experimentation done by the
American psychologist Harry Frederick Harlow in the 1950s. His experiments on rhesus
monkeys included creating inanimate wire surrogate “mothers” for the rhesus infants in
an attempt to investigate the process of infant-mother bonding.