At a recent audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis posed the question: “Do we allow ourselves to be illuminated by the faith of Mary, who is our Mother? Or do we think of her as distant, as someone too different from us?”

Perhaps it’s time to take a closer look at the ways Mary can be a model for modern moms:

• She trusted that God had a plan for her life and the life of her child. How often do we find ourselves worried about what might happen to our children or us? Mary shows us that God is trustworthy. If we turn our lives over to God, in the same way that Mary did, we will discover a deep sense of peace that nothing can take away from us. In what ways do you need to trust God?

• She knew the pain and the joy of childbirth. How often do we forget the profound lesson of childbirth that great pain is followed by intense joy? Mary experienced great stress during pregnancy and childbirth, but the joy she felt when she held her infant son stayed in her heart throughout her life — even during times of immense sorrow. If we can savor our motherhood in the same ways that Mary did, we will see that no matter what happens in our lives we can find joy deep within us. In what ways do you rely on your inner joy during difficult times?

• She lived in a world that was filled with turmoil. How often do we worry about the negative impact our modern society has on our children? Mary lived under Roman occupation in a world that was filled with dangers, so she protected Jesus and sheltered him until he was ready to enter into his public ministry. If we can protect our children in the same way that Mary did, we will prepare them to use their God-given gifts and talents as adults who will make a difference in the world today. In what ways do you protect your children?

• She cared about other people. How often do we become so focused on our families and ourselves that we forget about the needs of others? At the wedding feast at Cana, Mary urged Jesus to save the family from the embarrassment of running out of wine. If we are attentive to situations around us in the way that Mary was, we will discover that little acts of kindness make our children and us instruments of God’s love to others. In what ways do you encourage your children to reach out?

• She understood the power of love. How often do we forget that love is the only thing that matters in life? There were times in Mary’s life when she did not understand what was happening, but she knew that her love of God and her love for her son would carry her through everything. If we focus on love, in the same way that Mary did, our lives will take on a new meaning and purpose. In what ways do you teach your children about the real meaning of love?

The more you meditate on the life of Mary, and the more you ask for her help, the more you will discover a deep sense of spiritual and emotional well-being, and a timeless understanding of her gift of motherhood and your own gift of motherhood.