She stands as a holy sentinel, directing and pointing. “Do whatever he tells you.” Five simple words of great wisdom, they take what seems complicated and make it accessible. “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). It echoes God the Father when he said, “listen to him” (Matthew 17:5).
Everything about Mary points to Jesus. I see her as at a crossroads, directing the traffic of sinners. “Turn here,” she says. She is the arrow sign at the bend in the road, pointing to her son, Jesus. Like grounds crew at an airport, yellow-vested, waving a flag. “This way.”
Mary is my mother. She wraps me in her mantle in hard times and reminds me where to gaze. The Blessed Mother catches my children, when in frustration, I throw them to her, loving them more than I ever could. She shows me the beauty of being a woman and how to surrender my life to God. Mary is gentle. She walks alongside me in the Rosary as I pray the Sorrowful Mysteries, holding my hand and helping me accept the greatest of all sacrifices, the one for my salvation, the one my sin required. My hope is to have tea with her in heaven one day. She teaches me grace and how to ponder.
Coming to Mary
I came to Mary through the process of consecrating myself to Jesus through her. It’s called Marian consecration but that can be a confusing moniker. As Catholics we don’t worship Mary, we venerate her. To venerate is “to regard with reverential respect or with admiring deference; to honor with a ritual act of devotion” (Merriam Webster). We acknowledge that she, Queen of Heaven, Mother of God, is a special person, who after agreeing to bear God’s Son, agreed to be our spiritual mother. Mary was fully human and selected by God for a special role.
“Woman behold your son.” (John 19:26) She points the way to Jesus. Like a neon sign in the night, she guides us. God chose to become man in the same way we do: in the womb of a woman. He humbled himself to experience the physicality of this world with all its smells and awkwardness. Mary was there, tending to him as only a mother can.
So we venerate her. We recognize her as one of many gifts God gives us to get closer to him—our ultimate quest, our raisin d’etre. The one and only thing we need to do while here on earth is to grow in relationship with the one who made us so we can be with him in eternity.
We can do this via Marian prayer. Again, we are not praying to her in a worship sense asking her to do something for us. We are asking for her intercession. She is a monumental figure for Jesus; he listened to her (see the Wedding at Cana). She has pull with him. She takes our prayers, adds to them, and brings them to her son.
The Hail Mary
Consider the Hail Mary—the most common Marian prayer. We acknowledge her amazingness using words from Scripture:
“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you” exclaims Elizabeth upon seeing a newly pregnant Virgin Mary.
“Blessed am I among women,” Mary responds.
We proclaim, Blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Then we ask for her help. Holy Mary, Mother of God.
“Pray for us, sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” We beg for her prayers fifty-three times in the Rosary while we meditate on her son’s life.
We conclude the Rosary with the Salve Regina:
“Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope,” we greet her.
“To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.”
We are cleansed of our original sin but still fall short after the fall of Adam and Eve.
“To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.”
We can come to her, broken and bruised; frustrated and she hears us. At the foot of the Cross she agreed to accept us. We implore her as we do our earthly mothers for help.
“Turn, then, most gracious advocate … ”
She is our advocate, the one with words when we have none.
” … thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile … “
We aren’t there yet, we are going through the desert toward God.
” … show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.”
Help us see him, Mary.
“O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us O Holy Mother of God that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.”
We remember how special she is and ask again for help.
St. Teresa of Calcutta’s Flying Novena of Memorares
St. Teresa of Calcutta was a fan of Mary and directed her sisters to pray a Flying Novena in times of need. A novena is a prayer offered nine times once an hour for nine consecutive hours or once a day for nine days. St Teresa’s Flying Novena was ten Memorares said in succession—nine for the intention and a tenth in gratitude and trust for her intercession, so confident are we in her help.
“Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. “
This is truth. Mary will not ignore our pleas for help.
“Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother.”
We fly to her, our mother who loves us.
“To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.”
We again, acknowledge our sinfulness and need for God
O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.
She is the mother of Jesus, and we believe that her mercy and love for us compels her to intercede on our behalf.
I have prayed a Flying Novena several times and every time it has been answered. She is a good and loving mother.
Another way to ask for Mary’s intercession is through the Angelus, a prayer said daily at noon.
Rooted in Scripture, it is a celebration of the specialness of Mary. The Angelus can be said alone or with others and takes just minutes. It is a beautiful time to pause in a busy day and re-orient ourselves back to our Lord. It is prayed like this:
“The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.“
Hail Mary …
“Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to thy word.“
“And the word was made flesh. And dwelt among us.“
Hail Mary …
“Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.“
Let us pray. Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy grace into our hearts that, we to whom the incarnation of Christ, thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by his passion and cross, be brought to the glory of his resurrection. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Our Blessed Mother Truly Intercedes
The School Sisters of Notre Dame in Elm Grove, Wisconsin have a picture of Mary hanging in their convent. The story goes that anyone who puts a piece of paper with his or her request for Mary’s intercession behind the picture will have the prayer answered. Never, say the sisters, has it happened that a prayer was not answered. I wrote a prayer asking for clarity in a decision. A few months later, I knew what I needed to do. The guidance I received was priceless and led me to a place of joy and gratitude.
God knows our hearts better than we do. He is closer than our breath. He knows our weaknesses, so he gives us ways to grow closer to him. One of those ways is with the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Whether we offer a daily Rosary, consecrate ourselves to Jesus through Mary or simply recite an Angelus, we are assured of Mary’s loving intercession on our behalf.
Do you consider Mary your spiritual mother?
Do any of these prayers resonate with you?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments at the bottom of the page.
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Merridith Frediani’s perfect day includes prayer, writing, unrushed morning coffee, reading, tending to dahlias, and playing Sheepshead with her husband and three teenagers. She loves leading small faith groups for moms and looking for God in the silly and ordinary. She blogs and writes for her local Catholic Herald in Milwaukee.