These days I am busy preparing to give a three-day parish mission on our Blessed Mother entitled “Mary Calls Us to Lent.” My aim is twofold: 1) to convince the parishioners to pray to Mary as their God-given loving mother and powerful intercessor and 2) to inspire them to imitate her as the first and best Christian. Because my mind is focused on the Mother of God today, this post includes an excerpt from my new book Heart to Heart with Mary: A Yearly Devotional. It is the reading for Wednesday, January 31. The realistic statue of Mary on the cover is in our chapel at the provincial center. I love how she looks—not like a distant goddess but like a simple, approachable woman, someone you can converse with and pour out your heart.
My child, I shook my head when I heard that Salome’s two sons argued over who would have the higher place in heaven. It’s natural to desire fame, power, and esteem, but my son cautioned again that tendency. He taught that the last would be first. That was true for me. In Nazareth, I was “just Mary,” the wife of the carpenter Joseph. But now I am exalted higher than the angels!
When you hunger for a high position, awards, notoriety, or praise, I’m afraid for you. It may mean that you consider yourself better than others. Aiming at being glorified is a sign of pride and ends in disaster. To keep dangerous ambitions in check, look to me. I will teach you to strive for what really matters: holiness. This is achieved through humility, meekness, and obedience—in other words, by resembling Jesus, who never lorded over others but ministered to their needs.
Whenever you have the urge to aspire to being raised above others, call upon me. I will ask God to set your heart on what pleases him. Even if few people know your name, you are precious in my eyes.
Examine your goals in Mary’s presence. Ask her what she thinks of them.
Mary as our mother is also our model. Can you imagine how Mary prayed…as a Jewish woman, while she was pregnant with Jesus, during the flight into Egypt, when Jesus was missing for three days, at the foot of the cross, after Jesus rose? Here is a musical rendition of Mary’s well-known prayer that she prayed when Elizabeth greeted her and praised her for her faith: the Magnificat. In it, Mary states that all ages will call her blessed but acknowledges that God is responsible for that. Mary’s prayer is a radical one extolling God’s justice.
What is your favorite Marian prayer? Your favorite title for Mary?