Few things are more Catholic than praying to Mary. But actually, many Catholics have a hard time with it.
I know, because I used to be one of them.
I could easily ask things from God and from Jesus. But when it came to Mary, I hesitated. What did it actually mean to have a spiritual relationship with Mary? In many ways, I felt like a good Catholic, except when it came to this. I felt more guilty than inspired when I heard saints like Louis de Montfort say that devotion to Mary is “the safest, easiest, shortest and most perfect way of approaching Jesus.”
So imagine how I fretted when a priest I knew asked me to give a talk about Mary to his parishioners.
I had a week to prepare for it. So I prayed. And read. And prayed some more.
As I did, I realized more about Mary than I ever had before. All because I really looked at Mary as a mother. She’s the mother of Jesus, and she’s our spiritual mother too.
When I thought about Mary and what good mothers do, things really began to click.
Here is what I learned from preparing for that talk: Like any good mother, Mary suffers for you, provides for you and prays for you.
Mary was sinless, but she still suffered. Intensely.
She once had to travel a long distance away from home to flee from a king who wanted to kill her child. She had to live away from all her friends and family in a foreign land (Egypt) for years, in the middle of strangers who didn’t share her faith and values. She experienced the nightmare of losing her son for three days. And she watched her son die a most cruel and torturous death.
Mary endured these sufferings and offered them up to God so that His will would be done. And because she was sinless, that has an incredible effect.
The rest of us fast and make sacrifices because we need it. It turns us away from our sins and attachments, so we can turn toward Heaven. We can even offer up our own fasting and suffering for the sake of others. But if Mary was sinless, then everything she offered up, all her sacrifices, all her sufferings, became grace poured out for the benefit of everyone else in the Church.
Mary provides for you through example and through grace. Her life without sin was an extraordinary grace given to her alone, but it didn’t make her a robot. She said “yes” to God, cooperated with His will and practiced virtue. As members of the Body of Christ, we are called to do those same things in our own way. Mary did them perfectly as an example to us.
But her example actually makes a difference for us, because (once again) of the way grace works. The graces we receive from God are given not just for our sake, but so we can bless the people around us. That means everything Mary did through God’s grace overflows to us as blessings!
Chances are that at some point in your life, your mom helped you out when you were in trouble. Mary does the same thing as your spiritual mother.
As Christians, we pray for each other and ask others to pray for us. And although Mary is the Mother of God, she still shares our humanity. So it makes sense that she can intercede for us too. In fact, her intercession is especially powerful. Mary loves us as perfectly as she loves Jesus. Love of Jesus and love of neighbor go hand in hand. If Mary loves us, she wants what is truly best for us, which is the same as what Jesus wants for us too. So Jesus will always listen to His mother’s intercession, because He loves to do what she asks!
Take the story of the wedding feast at Cana. When Mary said, “They have no wine,” she was worried about the well-being of the wedding hosts. Jesus listened to her and went into action, performing His first miracle (and one of his most memorable). What confidence we can have in Mary to make our requests known to Jesus!
The more I learn about Mary, the more I love her! She brings me peace and helps me deepen my spiritual life. As St. Louis de Montfort said, “He who finds Mary finds life, that is, Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life.”
I hope this CatholicMonth.ly box will help you do the same!
Have a blessed May, and see you next month.