Around here, I often write about Mary, the mother of Jesus and also our Blessed Mother (John 19:26). Catholics often get a bad rap about our relationship with Mary: it’s portrayed as quaint at best and idolatry at worst. This rap is often enforced when, in may Christian circles, Mary is portrayed at Christmastime as a “very good woman,” and that’s about it.
The rest of the year, she’s pushed out of sight and out of mind.
When I was a Protestant, I found the notion of a hidden Mary as discouraging. In it’s own way, I saw the avoidance of Mary as disrespectful to Our Lord. After all, how would you feel if someone discounted the role of your mother? Probably not very much, if I guess correctly. Also, during my conversion to Catholicism, I often struggled with Mary’s role in my own life.
How much devotion was too much devotion? Was I thinking too much about Mary? How could I reconcile my love for Jesus and my love for His mother? Of course, you can love two people at the same time, but how would I avoid an eclipse of devotion? I’m certain I’m not the only Catholic to wrestle with this issue. In the end, though, I found a comfortable way to relate to Mary, our friend on the road to Heaven.
Solutions in Prayer
A few months ago, I wrote a series of blog posts with meditations on the Glorious, Joyful, Luminous, and Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. Before I converted, I would often attend Adoration at my parish. While sitting in silence, I often felt the strong call to pray to Rosary, but for weeks I didn’t act upon it. Frankly, I didn’t know what to do. I was still steeped in the idea that the Rosary devotion might be idolatrous.
In the past, I heard those who no longer identified as Catholic say something like, “When I prayed the Rosary, I spent more time talking to Mary than I did Jesus!”
As someone who was convinced she belonged to the most correct group of Christians, I was eager to believe what I had heard these former Catholics say. Throughout my conversion and even until today, I still have to work to override erroneous teachings I learned in the past (though it is becoming easier each day). Courageously, I took a deep breath and plunged into the Rosary devotion. Now, I see each Hail Mary as a step closer to meeting Jesus in the Mysteries.
Through the Rosary, I have found my life with Jesus enriched and expanded. Unlike those who claim that it’s “all about Mary,” the Rosary is a glorious reflection of the life of Jesus. Each Mystery of the Rosary focuses on an event in the life of Jesus or Mary (or both). Even the two Mysteries that are strictly Marian (The Assumption and Coronation of Mary) are meaningless without the truth of the Incarnation.
If you are looking to begin praying the Rosary, the USCCB provides this excellent resource.
Solutions in Silence
Those who are close to me know that I am an avid reader. It wasn’t until this year that I began pairing my Rosary devotion with the intentional act of reading. During Lent, I wrote and read daily with the Blessed is She Lenten journal. After Lent, however, I felt like I was hanging. I missed the act of delving into the Daily Readings and then writing in my journal. It was as if a large part of my devotional life that was just cultivated was now gone.
Thanks to the wonder of the Internet, I found Take Up and Read. Take Up and Read is a wonderful ministry that encourages women to engage the written word of God while soaking it into their hearts. Because I am devoted to the Rosary, I wanted a study that could help foster this devotion more and more. One of the newest additions to Take Up’s collection is Ponder, which guides readers through each of the Mysteries of the Rosary with paired Scriptures, journaling spaces, and a devotional.
By using Ponder, I am once again reminded of the primacy of Christ in the act of Marian devotion. A few days ago, I read the daily devotional written by Elizabeth Foss. She writes about the Joyful Mystery of the Annunciation:
She comes bearing Jesus…Mary brings the joy of the Lord to Elizabeth, to baby John [the Baptist], and to us. Indeed, the sweet mother of Jesus is so joyful that she breaks into a glorious song of praise…She will remain with our Lord for His lifetime, always a handmaiden, always pointing towards God. We can trust her to take us to Him
Through the quiet contemplation of the Rosary, I am ultimately brought closer to Jesus. This is not a Jesus of smiles and rainbows, but a Jesus that lived and suffered on Earth, just as we do today. The Rosary is an antidote for sugary religion that ultimately rots our souls.
What about you?
If you’re a Catholic, do you have a special bond with Mary through the Rosary? If yes, why do you pray the Rosary? If you don’t have a special bond with Our Lady, what are some ways you can cultivate a Marian spirit of love, service, and perseverance in your heart?
If you’re not a Catholic or don’t want to pray the Rosary, I recommend that you take time to read the Gospels and mediate on the passages about and words spoken by Mary. How can Mary show you the way to Jesus?
May God bless you on this Wednesday!
“My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Luke 1:46