My husband and I prayed, read, and wept our way into the Catholic church. We had so many conversations about Catholicism, we nearly talked ourselves silly. We argued frequently about the issue, and I was constantly barraging him with advice and disagreement. From where I stand now, my position is that of someone who wants to bridge the gap. Where I see division I see an opportunity for prayer. A good place to start are the issues concerning Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
For Mother’s Day a year before becoming Catholic, I visited one of our local parishes, St. Mary’s Catholic Church. As we sang many songs to Mary that day, I looked around, nervous and sick to my stomach. After all, we should honor God not man! Now, so much has changed. I love honoring Mary because it honors God to do so. The prayer is becoming a big part of who I am, and it’s a big part of my faith. Discarding my confusion emboldened me to ask the questions needed to understand the Catholic teachings about Mary. This helps me to venerate her and regard her as the Queen of Heaven. It is an understatement to say that she is a powerful person to know, love, and have praying for you.
My experience with learning to pray the Rosary helped me to accept Mary as my spiritual mother. I still remember the first time I felt prompted to pray the Rosary. After discussing this issue with a good friend and fellow convert to the Catholic faith, I started thinking about Mary’s role of bringing us into the faith. I decided to commit the Hail Mary to memory.
This soon came in handy, when a neighbor in our apartment building heard my daughter crying, and called the police! I was upstairs trying to vacuum, and Molly decided to throw a temper tantrum right inside our downstairs apartment door. The neighbor standing right outside panicked. I ran downstairs, vacuum forgotten, picked up Molly, and opened the door to speak with our neighbor. He looked nervous and confused, and had an officer on the line. I closed the door, waiting at my door for the police to come, and for the first time, I felt prompted to pray a Hail Mary.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
When the officer arrived, he took one look at us and laughed. It was obvious from my calm and our neighbor’s shaky panic that I was certainly not the criminal.
At that moment, I needed a spiritual Mother to come to my aid. I needed grace. Veneration of Mary means recognition of her help and gracious advocacy, as well as deep respect for her place in our spiritual heritage. Mary was the first human to know Jesus and the first convert to Christianity. She was conceived sinless (Immaculate Conception) and she was the first person to receive Christ. She was the first to pray a form of, “thy will be done,” when she said, “May it be to me according to thy will.” (Luke 1:38).
Reading about the miracles at Lourdes and Fatima, and coming to understand the significance of tradition also helped to strengthen my faith in her historical veneration. For those who don’t know, in 1858, Mary appeared to a peasant girl named St. Bernadette Soubiros in a cave in Lourdes, France. The Catholic Church later confirmed that it was indeed the Virgin Mary, who declared to St. Bernadette in a vision, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” In 1917, three children in Fatima, Portugal were also confirmed to have seen the Virgin Mary. Catholics refer to these and subsequent miracles at those locations “Our Lady of Lourdes,” and “Our Lady of Fatima.” These and many other apparitions of Mary hold a tremendous significance in the history of the Church and her present life today.
Each time I pray the Rosary, I am meditating on truth of scripture, accepting the grace and peace of someone else’s prayers for me, and strengthening my faith, which is so important during this season of motherhood. Excuse me for stating the obvious, but Mary mothered Christ. This is a profound thing to meditate on!
It says in scripture that during the early days of Jesus’ life, Mary “treasured these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 1:29). Her heart must have been seriously blessed with a peace and love at watching the King of Kings and Lord of Lords growing up in her living room. To see his beautiful innocence, his thoughtful wisdom even from a very young age, and his perfect love – certainly- transformed her. When we pray the Rosary, we are asking her to plead to God on our behalf, to bestow to us this same mysterious peace. As mothers, we need it!
I want to become a devoted follower of Christ, as well as a devoted mother. That is the premise, and I will read and do that which feeds and fosters this desire, in hope that it could help others as well. My own journey is one of a joyful embracing of the happy collision between faith, motherhood, and life. Mary has helped me to love motherhood, and the Rosary has given me peace countless times. I hope I can in some small way articulate the growth I have experienced in Christ, and the ways that God has brought about redemption, sanctification, and regeneration through the process of making me a Mama, and especially by bringing me closer to my spiritual Mother, Mary.
Copyright 2012 Tacy Beck