Recognize this picture? If you’re unfamiliar with the Saint Mary of the Hills upper church, this is the side altar dedicated to the Blessed Mother. She’s currently missing (not to worry, the statue has been taken for repairs). I was standing here with Caleb during the 10:15 Mass this past week and my eye kept being drawn to this empty space. The “Marylessness” of the side altar—it got me thinking about my life as a Catholic before I discovered true devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary in 2014. The spiritual “before” and “after” photos would be jaw dropping if you could photograph such a thing. I could talk about her without end, but I won’t. I hope to share a simple and practical rationale and method for starting a devotion to Mary.
Why devotion to Mary? I can think of a number of great reasons:
- Jesus gave His own Blessed Mother as our mother from the cross (John 19:26-27)
- She is the perfect disciple and evangelizer. If our job is to bear Christ into the world then who better to show us the way than the one who did it first.
- Mary makes personal holiness easier. If I stand at the foot of the cross alone it can seem impossible, almost unimaginable, to love as Christ loves. But when I realize Mother Mary is there, holding my hand, it becomes attainable. And I don’t have to reinvent the wheel in becoming a saint. I can simply follow her model of submitting to God’s will and doing whatever Jesus commands. (Luke 1:38 and John 2:5)
You can start easily by praying with Mary to her Son Jesus. There are a number of traditions for this. You could intersperse your day with Marian prayers such as the Hail Mary, the Magnificat, and the Memorare. Of course there is also praying the Rosary daily, which is such a great blessing if you can find time. I’ve found some useful tips to make a daily Rosary possible:
- Do it first thing. I try to begin my prayer before I even have my socks on. Ok, that’s a lie. I sleep with socks on. But placing time in prayer at the beginning of the day makes it less likely that it will get pushed off the day’s to do list.
- Start small. If a full five decades is too much try just one. Use a recording to get you in the habit. There are a number of great ones out there. I like Gretchen Harris’
- Don’t do something else (like driving, housework, working out) while praying, but feel free to pray while doing something else (like driving, housework, working out). Very often my morning Rosary coincides with emptying the dishwasher. I’ve hiked and run with the Rosary. There’s even a DVD series of yoga and (Pontius?) pilates type movements to accompany the Rosary called Soul Core. The key difference is mindset. Am I allowing activity to become a distraction to my prayer vs. am I offering up the activity to God through prayer.
End Marylessness* and make praying the Rosary an important part of your prayer life this summer! I hope that you are blessed by this devotion as much as I have been.
* I’m pretty sure I invented a new theological term here