Category Archives: Mary

“You can’t love Mary too much… you will never love her more than Jesus did!” St. Maximilian Kolbe

Hail Mary Series (Part 8 of 10) – Pray For Us Sinners

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus! Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death! Amen.

Often in the Body of Christ you’ll hear someone’s tale of woe and make the reply, “I’ll pray for you!” I don’t know about you, but until fairly lately, I’d say “I’ll pray for you!” and then five minutes later I’d have completely forgotten the promise of prayer that I’d made. I’ve been growing in faithfulness to prayer lately, but still forget from time to time. It hurts my heart to think of the promises I’ve made that have slid from my mind, especially the promises to pray for someone.

Bring to mind the images of the Blessed Mother that you’ve seen. She may be holding the Christ Child, she could have her hands outstretched offering us love and grace, or her hands are folded in prayer. In the Hail Mary, we ask for her prayers. Unlike myself, she won’t ever forget to pray, and as she is now right before the throne of her Divine Son, she has a pretty good vantage point to make herself heard! At the Wedding at Cana, she made it known to Jesus that the wine had run out (such a mother – so attentive to detail and the needs of those around her!), and while she didn’t tell Him “Hey, fix this,” she made the need known. She longs to have needs brought to her feet, and she takes great joy in presenting these needs to her Son!

It was said one time that offering prayers to Jesus through Mary is like giving a friend an apple. But you don’t just hand them the fruit; instead you gave it to their mother first, to prepare it just as they like best. She’ll know exactly what to do. Asking for our Heavenly Mother’s prayers is so much like that. She takes our humble, imperfect prayers, and perfects it with her gentility and devotion, and presents it to God, her Son. What an intercessor we have in Mary!

It’s worth noting also; Mary taught Jesus His prayers. As much as this may boggle the mind, it is true. If you’re struggling in prayer, ask for her help. Ask her to teach you to pray like she taught Christ.

She’s your mother! She loves you!

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Hail Mary Series (Part 7 of 10) – Mother of God

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus! Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us now, and at the hour of our death! Amen.

Who knows you the best, out of everyone you’ve ever met? Who has invested the most in you during your life? The one who not only knows you like your PB & J’s with the crusts cut off, but also takes the time to carefully cut them off for you? Who stays up late when you’re sick, ensures your diet is healthy, and makes sure your friends are above reproach, because she knows you’ll become like the company you keep? Your mother does. She lovingly and carefully cares for you, loves you, and helps you grow into a mature adult. This support, love, and assistance that can only come from a mother is among the most precious and necessary people in any child’s life. Without a mother, children often grow up emotionally and psychologically disadvantaged.

Now, if Jesus was truly man along with being truly God (and He was!), He would also need a mother! He came to live the same life we do; He is completely like us in all things, save sin. To ensure His healthy development both in and out of the womb, he needed a mother! And not just ANY mother, but the BEST mother!

It’s simple enough to think of a mother/child relationship, but when the child is GOD, it totally changes the paradigm. Your mother is special, and particularly and intentionally planned by God to be YOUR mother! Why would God Himself be any different?! His mother was perfectly planned, and Immaculately Conceived (ie, without Original Sin), to be GOD’S mother! She had to have special graces and privileges (like a King’s mother would!), to fulfill the special role she was given. Like we talked about a few weeks ago, Mary is very, very blessed!

Another facet of Mary’s maternity that always draws my heart to love her more is the fact she was always, always with Him. We see pictures like this:

She held Him as a babe, rocked Him to sleep, and cared for every need that babies have. She taught Him to talk and walk; she nursed and fed Him; she even taught Him His prayers. Yes, the mother of God taught God how to pray! What a beautiful, touching reality! (Note: having trouble in your personal prayer life? Ask Mary to help! If she taught God, she can sure help you!)

Mary was also with her Son in times like this:

She was the most faithful of Mothers. She held her Son as a sweet little infant, and she held His tortured, bloodied Body after He was crucified for our Salvation. This lady is God’s MOTHER! I could write pages and pages on Mary’s maternity, but for now, I’ll leave you with this little thought from St. Maximillian Kolbe: “Don’t worry about loving Mary too much; you can’t ever love her more than Jesus did.”

Hail Mary Series (Part 6 of 10) – Holy Mary

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus! Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us now, and at the hour of our death! Amen.

We’ve talked about why Mary is called “Blessed,” but here we hit another word that many take issue with, when used towards Mary. She’s not God; why do we call her holy?

Let’s first take a look at what holy means before we start throwing around accusations of idolatry. “Holy,” as defined by Mr. Webster, means “set apart” or “reserved for special purpose.”

Now, let’s look at Mary. Was she set apart from the rest of womankind? Was she reserved for a special purpose? Yes! She was destined by God to carry His Son, to give Him birth, nurse Him, teach Him, and love Him in the most intimate way that only woman gifted with motherhood herself can understand. This privilege was not offered to just any woman. It was offered to her. And in total surrender and complete humility, she said gave her fiat. YES.

Now, think for just a second. What happened to you at your Baptism? You were cleansed, anointed, and set apart; you were made Holy. You (yes, YOU) are HOLY! You are set apart for the work of GOD!

Being holy doesn’t mean being perfect; being holy means being part of something Bigger and More Important than just you, namely, the Kingdom of Heaven and the Family of God. You’re not just another body walking around, you’re not normal; you are set apart! You are HOLY! So don’t deny it when someone calls you that, because if you’ve been Baptized, you ARE.

Now, go make someone’s day and tell them that they are holy – and most importantly – tell them WHY!

Hail Mary Series (Part 5 of 10) – Blessed Is The Fruit Of Thy Womb, Jesus!

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus! Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us now, and at the hour of our death! Amen.

When you think of humility, what comes to mind?

For me, it’s the Blessed Mother. The Hail Mary is pretty much her prayer… the first lines are quoted directly from Scripture – the words of the Angel Gabriel, and Mary’s cousin Elizabeth – and the second half expresses the desire of us, the faithful, for her intercession on our behalf before her Devine Son! But in her utter humility, she asks we pause in the middle of her prayer and recall WHY she is someone whose prayers we seek. It is because of Who her Son is that we honor her, and seek the strength of her intercession.

The precious, powerful name of her Devine Son is at the heart of everything Mary does, and her favorite prayer is no exception! If you think through the Our Father, or the Glory Be, the other two cornerstones of prayer that we learned as babes, neither directly state the powerful name of Jesus; only Mary’s prayer does that.

How fitting it is that the one who knew Him best, His mother, should be the first to turn our hearts towards His. They are so close together that the more you seek and open your heart to Mary, the more you find her with her arms wrapped around her Son.

I was skyping my dear friend Anna today, and told her some of how my own relationship with Mary had its beginnings, and how it developed. It was curious that when I began a devotion to Mary in earnest and began to seek her specifically, the more she directed me to her Son. When I started going only to Christ, though, He was quick to remind me WHO was responsible for my more devoted search for Him, and sent me back to love on His mother. Anna shared a similar story, and we decided that it was the objective of Jesus and Mary to just make a [cookie] sandwich out of us, with each of them being the Oreo, and us being the cream!

At the heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Cross of her Son. His death, which wrought our salvation, was the greatest sorrow of her life. Yet she never complained; she didn’t blame anyone for the cross (and she knows whose sins sent Him there!), and she didn’t get angry. She just stayed with Him, and quietly wept to herself.

Her anthem is that of Christ Crucified. As she opens her arms to embrace the limp body of her now-dead Son, she looks to us through tear-filled eyes and invites, “Come, hold my Son.”

Hail Mary Series (Part 4 of 10) – Blessed Art Thou Among Women

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus! Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us now, and at the hour of our death! Amen.

Imagine you’re being introduced to the First Lady, wife of the president of the United States. What has she done to deserve your respect? Did she run for office, promise lower taxes, win debate after debate? Does she have any real authority to make your life good or bad? No? Why then do you treat her with such respect? She’s just a woman. Just like your mother, sister, daughter, neighbor, cleaning lady…

But we know this isn’t so. She isn’t “just another woman.” She’s the wife of our President, which gives her a place of honor. Because of that, and that alone, we give her great dignity and respect.

Think, now, why is Mary, Mother of God, discarded as “just another woman” when she has been placed by God in a position of highest honor? (Distinction: there is a huge difference between honor and worship. The Ten Commandments oblige us to ‘honor’ our parents, while worship is due to God and God alone!) Mary did not chose this position for herself, just as you did not chose who your mother and father would be, where you’d be born, or how you’d grow up. She did, however, acknowledge her position in humility, and reflected all glory back to God, just as the moon reflects the light of the sun. “He has looked with favor on His lowly handmaid, and from henceforth, all generations will call me blessed.” Luke 1:48

She is indeed blessed among woman, and deserving of our respect, honor, and love. What other woman has been a living tabernacle for the Most High God for nine months, and then, as our parish priest says, ‘fed, watered, and taught him’ for the next 30 years? To be that close and intimate with God… she is the most blessed of any woman that has ever lived!

Mary’s cousin Elizabeth was the first to use this title “Blessed,” but the Bride of Christ, the Holy Catholic Church, has taken up that cry, and with the choirs of angels, give honor and love to the Blessed Mother of God!

Hail Mary Series (Part 3 of 10) – The Lord Is With Thee

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus! Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us now, and at the hour of our death! Amen.

It’s a simple statement, really. “The Lord is with you.” In Latin, it’s Dominus Tecum. We all know what it means to be with someone, whether physically or mentally – to be in the presence of the other. The significance here is WHO is with her. Mr. Webster has this to say about the noun Lord: “one having power and authority over others.” Lord here means so much more than that, though. This Lord, while He most definitely has power and authority over us, is so much more than just our ruler.

When the time came for Him to come to earth to save us, He could have come any way He chose – He is God, after all. He could have come in earthquakes, hurricanes, and made such a scene that the entire world would have had to stop and take notice. And that is within His right! He MADE this place! He is free to get its attention any time He pleases!

But instead, He came so gently, quietly. He was so tiny – only a single cell at first! He came so softly that only a humble virgin in Nazareth knew. Through His angel messenger, God humbly asked the permission of one of His own creatures to come into her womb and to take from her His humanity, His DNA, even His blood type! He asked to receive from her the very humanity that He Himself had given her! What humility!

When the angel said to Mary “The Lord is with you!” just imagine the consuming joy and comforting peace that filled her heart!

Now, an angel isn’t likely to show up on your doorstep tomorrow afternoon and tell you the same thing (though if one does, let me know!). How, then, do we live like Mary and have our Lord with us? Jesus comes to us in so many ways, but He is so humble (as we’ve seen) and he is a perfect gentleman. If you’re not interested in getting closer to Him, He won’t force you. You may have just a little bit of Him, and that’s all you feel you need. But dear one, by this thought, you miss so much more that He still wants to give you! He wants to be the lover of your heart, the protector of your mind, and the refuge of your soul! He has SO MUCH for you! Open yourself to Him, and let Him give to you of His Supreme Abundance!

Grow in your love for Him by spending time with Him in prayer! Pray the Hail Mary! In this way, you’ll grow always closer, and your guardian angel can look over you and whisper into your heart, “The Lord is with you!”

Hail Mary Series (Part 2 of 10) – Full of Grace

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus! Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us now, and at the hour of our death! Amen.

What does it mean to be full of something? Filled to capacity? No room for anything else? Jam-packed? Well, take these definitions, and apply them to the amount of Grace that God placed in the Virgin Mary!

This only means something though if we know what Grace is. The Catechism tells us about two types of Grace: Sanctifying and Actual. Sanctifying Grace is the spiritual LIFE that fills our souls at Baptism, and the breath that keeps us spiritually alive. It lives in our souls. Actual Grace is a ‘helping grace’ from God that does not live in our souls, but comes to the rescue when we need it. When you get that tickle in your mind saying, “Hey, it’s been a while… you ought to get to Confession,” that is an Actual Grace from God moving you to repentance and reconciliation. Because of the gift of Free Will, we are free to cooperate with that Grace or not. If we use it, and hit the Confessional, it deepens our friendship with Christ. If not, it passes us by… But God won’t leave you hanging, and another will be around the corner.

Something else worth mentioning – A mortal (i.e. deadly) sin kills Sanctifying Grace (which is why you can’t go to Communion when you have a mortal sin). A venial sin doesn’t kill Grace, but weakens it, making it easier to commit more venial and eventually mortal sins. (Another reason why it’s great to confess venial sins – even though you don’t technically HAVE to!)

So with this information in mind, what does “Full of Grace” mean? It means FULL! As in, no room for anything else! Because Mary would be a living tabernacle for nine months, she HAD to be full of Grace – and nothing else! The Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament was made of the best, the finest, and the purest materials that could be found by man! Doesn’t it make sense then for the Ark of the NEW Covenant (Mary – because Jesus is the New Covenant) to be made of the best, finest, and purest materials that could be found by God?!

She was pure, forever a virgin, and sinless. Because of Who she carried within, nursed, taught, and mothered, she couldn’t be anything else.

If I could make a perfect mother for myself, I would!!! Why would God do any differently?

Hail Mary Series (Part 1 of 10) – Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus! Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us now, and at the hour of our death! Amen.

A friend told me a story once of a non-Catholic friend she was visiting. At one point, they passed a statue of Our Lady, and her friend waved and said, “Hi, Mary!” Then, turning to her companion said, “See, I talk to Mary just like you Catholics do… “Hail Mary” is just like saying “Hi, Mary!”

While our sister meant it well, that could not be further from the truth. “Hi” does NOT equal “Hail.” Dictionary.com offers this definition of hail: “to cheer, salute, or approve enthusiastically.” For hi, the definition is thus: “informal, simplified hello.” While ‘Hi!’ is perfectly acceptable for a peer, it is not the proper greeting for the Mother of God, which is why the angel Gabriel did not say, “Yo!” or “Hi there, Mary!” He said “Hail,” the formal greeting for someone deserving of respect and honor.

When you greet someone is a position of Earthly prestige (ie the president, governor, member of the military, etc.) you offer them respect with a more proper greeting as is fitting to their position. When I was little my mother taught me to always say “Good morning/afternoon/evening, Father ____” when I met a priest. Not because of the man, but because of the office.

When we pray the Hail Mary, in the very first word, we acknowledge the fact that Mary is worthy of respect and honor. Even the tiniest child can lisp the simple words of love and honor that bring such joy to the heart of our Blessed Mother.

My Mother’s Rosebuds

What mother doesn’t love her children running up to give her armfuls of roses? I can’t think of one! Every mother has a deep-set love for her children, whether she acknowledges it or not. When a small child finds a new rose, and brings it to his mother, her maternal heart is moved with love.

The mother of God is no different. When her children bring her roses, she is moved with love for them. What do these roses look like? And how do we find them?

It’s quite simple, really. This is what Our Lady’s rosebuds look like:

 Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus! Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.

What does Our Lady do when she receives a few of these rosebuds?

Well you see, with an earthly mother receives roses, she takes them with love, and puts them in a vase with water. The vase so everyone can enjoy their beauty, and the water so they will last as long as possible.

Our Lady does much the same. She takes them with great love, and places them before the throne of her Son, the King of Kings, for the entire Court of Heaven to see and enjoy. And because these rosebuds are in our Eternal Home, they need no water. They will blossom before the feet of Our Lord, and will stay forever fresh, new, and beautiful.

With what joy will Our Lady welcome a child who, during his life on earth, sent her many of these rosebuds!

She will take your hand, and lead you to the feet of her Son. “Look,” she says gently, pointing at the roses at Our Lord’s feet, “I put them there, just for you, when you sent them to me. See how they have blossomed! See their beauty! I love them so!”

You glance up to Our Lord, to see what He thinks, and His smile is more radiant than the sun.

“Their beauty is so pleasing to Me. Welcome Home! I’ve been waiting for you.”

Once Upon A Time…

Once upon a time there was a Great and Loving King Who ruled a mighty and extensive Kingdom.

 His Father was a Mighty Emperor, Who lived in a Great Palace far away. It was said that this Great Palace was so Beautiful, Peaceful and Joyful that the King’s subjects could not even imagine it. So great was the Mighty Emperor’s Love for His Son, the King, and His people, that He welcomed all the faithful servants of His Son as if they were His own children, and made a Home for them there.

The King had many loyal subjects who served Him faithfully. These men and women did as they were bid with humility, joy, patience, and love. They loved the King, and tried to do everything well, in order to please Him.

The King also had many subjects who thought themselves faithful, but just behaved however they pleased. They claimed the King in their work, but it was not done out of love for Him, but love for themselves, and the temporary satisfaction it gave them.

Some of the King’s subjects did not know Him. They heard of this Mighty and Loving King, but chose not to listen. “There cannot be a king so great as that!” they would say. These people grieved the King greatly, for He loved them.

There was another group of people in this Kingdom, and they were the troubled ones. These subjects hated the King. They knew Him, and His Goodness and Love, and they hated Him. They also hated the faithful servants of the King, and sought to trip them in their journey to the Emperor’s Palace.

The King knew there would be a time for each of His people when their journey would be complete. His loyal servants who had journeyed well He took away with Him to His Great Father’s Palace, where the Happy Ones dwelt. He tried to help all of His people to get there safely, as far as they would let Him. If they did not wish to live in the Great Palace with their King and His Father, the Mighty Emperor, He would not force them to do so.

The King’s Mother, the Beautiful Queen, lived in the Great Palace with the Happy Ones who had served her Son in their time in His Kingdom. She loved her Son very much, and she loved His people, too. She would help them in their journey to the Great Palace by giving them example of how to Love and Serve, and teaching them how to Love her Son more, and Serve Him more faithfully. Some of the King’s subjects were sent by the King to serve His Mother. Others, knowing how kind and gracious the King’s Mother was, asked to be her special servants. The King Loved His Mother so greatly, He would send her as many servants as wished to serve her.

Some did not trust the Beautiful Queen, and feared that her servants loved her too much. They avoided her, and sought the King directly, for fear of giving too much attention to her, and depriving the King of their love and service. This grieved the King and the Queen, because they both knew how much the Queen loved her Son, and all His people. She would never do anything to jeopardize their journey; she only sought to bring the people closer to her Son, as only a mother can.

When the time came for His Mother’s servant’s journey to end, she would be at her Son’s side, begging for their admittance to the Great Palace. She knew them, and she loved them. He could not admit the wicked, but the Beautiful Queen saw to it that none of her especial servants were unfit for the Great Palace. Because the King loved His Mother so, as often as He could, He would welcome her servants into His Father’s Palace, as His own brothers and sisters. Because of the assistance and example of the Beautiful Queen, these souls loved the King more than anything or anyone else, just as His Mother had done.

 


 

Mary,

Help of Christians,

Pray for us!

Written by Mary’s humble Ghillie on  Oct. 9, 2010

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