I’m sure most of you, like me, remember the annual first day of school picture. You know the one, where you stand in front of the door with your backpack and new school clothes (I went to a private elementary school, so the clothes were the same for 9 years, but still). You try and force a smile even though you’re sad because it’s so early and you know homework is imminent. At the time it was unpleasant, but now the pictures are fun to have because we can look back and see the different years, remembering the excitement and the nerves about what each year had to bring.
What I want to focus on more than pictures, though, is the person who gets you dressed (well, for a few years at least), packs your lunch, and takes the picture of you. Yes, you guessed it, I want to talk about mothers. More specifically, I want to talk about our Lord’s mother, Mary, and the way praying to her points us to her Son.
There are many surface level perceptions of our Blessed Mother. To some she’s just the woman from the paintings and statues that are all over Catholic churches. To others, she is the woman we hear about around Christmas time in the nativity story. Still others, I am sure, don’t really know what to think about Mary.
Personally, I never really thought much about Mary growing up. I had heard about the rosary in school, and saw my mom praying it, but actually praying a rosary myself was far from my mind. As I got older and began to have the desire to deepen my faith in the Lord, I never thought of making Mary a part of that process. I seem to have overlooked just how crucial Mary is for our spiritual journeys.
My “wow” moment with the Blessed mother came during college, when I joined a group of men in reciting a Marian prayer called the “Memorare” on a regular basis. As I began to pray this prayer consistently I would hear these words and be struck by the confidence of this plea:
“Remember, O Most Gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known
that anyone who fled to thy protection
or sought thy intercession
was left unaided,”
Through praying the Memorare, I began to see the power of Mary’s intercession, and understand more clearly the necessity of calling upon Mary in my time of trouble.
By Mary saying “yes,” what we refer to as her Fiat, she brought a Son into the world. Her Son, Jesus Christ, our God incarnate, was unlike any other son born of a mother. However she, like every other mother, wants us to see just how special her Son is. Just like our mothers here on earth, Mary wants to show everyone pictures of her Son, speak of what He has done and will do for so many, and proclaim His greatness.
Picture, for a deeper example of this, Mary and Jesus at the Wedding at Cana. They run out of wine, and Mary hears about this. Knowing her Son as she did, and always desiring to point people to Him, she brings the problem to Jesus and lets Him do the work. In the same way, she does this with our prayers. Mary, the Immaculately conceived Mother of God, only desires to point us to her Son and allow His will to be fulfilled in our lives.
That, my friends, is why we pray to Mary-or at least it’s why I do.
It’s not just reciting mindless words while flipping through our rosary beads. We pray to Mary because, just like any mother, she wants to reveal her Son to us in every possible way. If we want to know her Son, there is no better way to do so than to ask His mother to introduce us. Praying to Mary never keeps our focus on her, but always points us to the One she is focused on, her Son Jesus.
And so, whatever our relationship with Mary currently is, it might be time for us step it up a notch.
If you never pray the Rosary, make the effort to start, whether it’s once a week or once a day, Mary will shower us with grace.
Read Mary’s words and hear her story in the scriptures. Reflecting on her life in this way will draw us closer to her.
A good book on Mary might be exactly the way the Lord wants to help us grow. There are plenty of them out there, pick one up! In some of our cases, an increased devotion to Mary might just look like a couple of Hail Mary’s throughout the day whenever we need help.
For me, devotion to Mary started with the Memorare. If you don’t know this prayer, I strongly encourage you to learn it and pray it when you feel you need some heavenly aid. Through this prayer, I have gained a love for praying the daily rosary, a desire to reflect more on Mary and Jesus in Scripture, and a passion for learning more about Mary’s role in my faith life.
Praying to Mary will lead us to Jesus; today is the perfect time to look at our relationship with her and challenge ourselves to deepen it, so as to deepen our relationship with her Son.
Jason Theobald is the Director of Youth Ministry at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Huntley, IL. He lives in the Chicago suburbs with his wife Sarah and one-month old son, Noah Michael. He graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2012, and lived in the Pittsburgh, PA area for a couple of years before moving home to his beloved Chicago.”