I’m not sure whether every Catholic girl in Columbus, Ohio, had a similar experience — I just know it had a lifelong impact on me.
I was a precocious six years old — though not mature enough to brush my own teeth. My mother was with me at the sink, about to apply the toothpaste, when I started crying.
“I want to see Mary!” I said between post-toddler tears. By this I meant that I wanted to have a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, just like that nice little girl Bernadette had had in one of my father’s favorite films, The Song of Bernadette.
My stoic mother tried to console me but, alas, she could not make me the promise that I was seeking — that I would see the Blessed Mother in front of my eyes right before I sailed off to Dreamland.
I never forgot that feeling of longing, that unmet quest to meet Mary in our humble two-bedroom apartment.
Still, in the years since, I have managed to encounter the Handmaid of the Lord in various ways, which I would like to put forward as my Girlfriend’s Guide to Mary:
- Through the Holy Rosary. As a young adult, I adopted the practice of a daily Rosary, and it has been with me through the trials and tribulations of my life. In my mind’s eye, I have seen Mary react to the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel before her, announcing the astounding news that she was to be the mother of our Savior. I have celebrated with her at the wedding feast at Cana, and honored her at her Assumption into Heaven.
- Through Mary’s Way of the Cross. I learned about this special devotion during a Cursillo weekend (Cursillo is a lay movement within the Catholic Church). The text tells the story of the stations of the Cross, but from the perspective of Christ’s mother. Praying this devotion made Mary real to me in a way that I had not experienced before.
- Through Scripture. I think Mary gets some of the greatest lines in the Bible: “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5) “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” (Luke 1:34) “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38). Her words may be few, but they are golden, and they strike a chord in my heart.
- Through consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The book 33 Days to Morning Glory by Father Michael Gaitley is a wonderful way to offer one’s life to Mary in exchange for her loving care. Knowing that Mary is my special patron provides a sense of peace and comfort in the midst of life’s struggles.
So, while I have never had a Lourdes-like vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I can envision her extending her arms out to me in a loving embrace. And that in itself is quite a gift this side of heaven.
Copyright 2019 Maria V. Gallagher