I had a reversion to the Catholic Church as part of my journey of faith. A part of my journey was the discovery of the part that Mary plays in salvation history. I had to struggle with a perceived tension between a commitment to Christ and how a focus on Mary would either direct or distract me from my Lord. This is a challenge that many converts or reverts go through and everyone has different stories. For me, the connection to Mary was not necessarily just an intellectual understanding, but also a discovery of this relationship through my wife.
I often say in our talks on marriage that one of the most beautiful parts of having children is the opportunity to experience your wife as a mother. I’ve found no experience which has shown me the sort of person my wife can be than how being a mom has impacted her. The intimacy of motherhood and the joys and sorrows have given me a different appreciation of who God has made her. The vocation has unlocked another character of love and beauty that she is capable of, even I often fail to appreciate it. It is a character of a selfless, often thankless, care and love for her children. It makes me love her more every day, not because those qualities were not there, but because my vision has been lifted to see them.
The understanding of my wife as a mom and the qualities of the Lord which come out through her helps me think of Mary and the similar qualities God would have blessed her with in order to be the mother of Jesus. If I am to assume that God gives us what we need to be loving parents and I see that come out in my wife, how much more would he give to the mother of his only Son? I can only assume that God would have blessed Mary in an incomparable way, bringing forth an incomparable love, raising her Son in holiness, as well as supporting her husband Joseph.
This is represented in Mary’s prayer, conveying to Elizabeth the joy of her pregnancy through the Holy Spirit, realizing how God will undoubtedly bless her to be the mother of our Lord.
My soul magnifies the Lord
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
Because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid;
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed;
Because He who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His name;
And His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear Him.
He has shown might with His arm,
He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and has exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.
He has given help to Israel, his servant, mindful of His mercy
Even as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever.
I realized that we are the generation that shall call her blessed, because our vision has been lifted to see the beauty that God has created within her. In a similar way to which you see your wife new, you also see that same beauty in Mary, as Joseph must have seen her. If I were to imagine myself in Joseph’s position, I would not only love Mary, but I would be realizing what being Jesus’s Mother has created in her. We in fact owe Mary honor, in a similar way to which a husband owe’s his wife or a son owes his mother. Think about the honor that Jesus would have shown and how that impacts our perspective.
I am now challenged not only to honor Mary, but more-so to explore how knowing Mary connects me to our Lord. If Mary is blessed to bring about our Lord into the world, she also is given a unique blessing in the person God has made her. I have discovered that Mary not only does not distract me from the Lord but quite the opposite, exposes a beautiful vision of our Lord that we can only experience through her. Imagine asking Mary to tell us about her dependence on the Lord in her flight to Egypt with Joseph, about Jesus as a boy, about worrying about him as she heard the snide remarks from the Pharisees, about holding his body from the cross, and about seeing his risen body. She not only has a unique position in her vision of Jesus, but also has a unique relationship with our Lord.
A discovery is that Mary connects me to the Lord in a more complete way. She carries my prayers to Him, answers my questions about patience and love, and helps me deal with disappointment. A consistent relationship with Mary is not just a valuable option, but a relationship which is irreplaceable in the Christian life.
At perhaps the right time in my life a friend connected me to the thirty three day consecration to Mary and asked me to do it with him. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting myself into, but it was both an intellectual and profoundly prayerful experience. This day is the anniversary of starting that consecration and I’m going to embark on that journey again, with the intent of not only experiencing old memories again, but discovering new beauty in our blessed Mary. I pray that it will make me a better husband by exposing new ways to appreciate God’s impact on my wife. I pray it will make me a better businessman by giving me the patience and vision to be a great leader. I pray it will connect me to our Lord by showing me what he must have seen in his own mother.
My favorite prayer in the consecration is the Ave Maria Stella:
Hail, O Star of the Ocean,
God’s own Mother blest,
ever sinless Virgin,
gate of heav’nly rest.
Taking that sweet Ave,
which from Gabriel came,
peace confirm within us,
changing Eve’s name.
Break the sinners’ fetters,
make our blindness day,
case all evils from us,
for all blessings pray.
Show thyself a Mother,
may the Word divine
born for us thine Infant
hear our prayers through thine.
Virgin all excelling,
mildest of the mild,
free from guild preserve us
meek and undefiled.
Keep our life all spotless
make our way secure,
till we find in Jesus,
Praise to God the Father,
honor to the Son,
in the Holy Spirit,
be the glory one.
May he Lord and our mother Mary make your day beautiful by lifting the blindness we all have.