Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Pinterest Connect on Google Plus Connect on LinkedIn

Finding Your True Self in Marian Devotion

June 18, AD2017

mary, jesus, cross, marian, altar

I have written before that my spiritual life is owed to Mary. A few years ago, after a long period of lapsed faith, I felt suddenly called to pray the Rosary, which was followed by daily Mass attendance, then Confirmation into the Church, and the rest, as they say, is history.

It is impossible for me to separate my Catholic faith from a love for the Blessed Mother, and yet I know many Catholics – and certainly many non-Catholics – find the idea of praying to Mary, and seeking her intercession, puzzling at best and blasphemous at worst.

As many great saints have acknowledged, the sun cannot be eclipsed by the moon. Marian devotion is just that: the moon that is illumined by and reveals the shining love of Christ. We are called to form a relationship with Mary, a human person who was close to our Lord; this relationship will lead us to closer to Christ, and help us become the true persons God calls us to be.

Being, Serving, and Loving like Mary

Can you imagine anyone more worthy of emulation, after Christ, than His mother? It began with her “Yes” to the angel Gabriel, an astonishing act of humility, obedience, and courage, and the moment which changed the course of human history. Remember that, as a human, she had free will and could have said, “No.” Instead, she chose to submit to God’s will with full trust.

Courage and humility are the hallmarks of her life. Consider the crucifixion: it is acknowledged that Mary knew what was coming for her Son, at the very least because of Simeon’s declaration that her heart would be “pierced with a sword” (Luke 2:35). Yet there is nothing in the Bible to suggest she fought her Son’s fate. Instead, she was with Him through every moment, and to the moment of His death, even when most of His followers had fled in fear.

Her entire life was an act of service to her fellow man, as she was the one who raised Jesus, watching Him grow into the Christ, the Savior of the world. This shows us that everyone is called in some way to serve God. The Holy Spirit will use you, if you let Him, just as He did Mary.

Perhaps the most important way we can emulate Mary is in how she loved her Son. This is one of the key components of true Marian spirituality. A devotion to His mother does not deflect from the love one develops for Christ.

Deepening Your Relationship

The best way to develop a relationship with Mary is to begin where you are, with what you have. I had the privilege of being an active member of the Legion of Mary for a few years following my joyful Confirmation to the church, and I can tell you, there is no better training ground for spiritual development (in the Marian tradition or otherwise) than the Legion of Mary. A service-based organization, members spend equal time serving others in their community through works like prison or nursing home ministry, as well as meeting together to discuss the philosophy of the Church and her spiritual truths.

Can you imagine how quickly you would grow in such a setting, and what an antidote to the materialism of our world this form of Marian devotion is? It takes courage and a willing heart to go to unknown places – physically and mentally – and yet when you yield, even just a little bit, to what Our Lady has in store for you, the blessings are truly an abundance of riches.

Your True Self

That is how you find your true self: through practicing the virtues that Our Lady so beautifully displayed. Humility, service to others, love of her Son, and an acknowledgement of God’s presence in all things are hallmarks of one oriented to Christ, through His mother. She is known as the Mediatrix of All Graces: the one through whom all graces flow, a sign of Jesus’s love for His mother, that He would give her this important role.

If you feel called to a deeper relationship with Mary, even just a little bit, begin with a prayer. Speak to her as if she were your mother (she is) and ask for courage and guidance in following God’s plan for you. It is Mary’s greatest joy to lead her children to Jesus.

A prayer that I often said when I began my spiritual conversion (before I was even attending Mass regularly), and which I have shared before, is the Memorare. It tells you all you need to know about our Mother in Heaven.

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.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Amen.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Laura DeMaria is a nonprofit management professional and writer living in the metro Washington, DC area and is a recent "revert" to the faith. She studied English and Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned a Master's in Public Administration at the American University School of Public Affairs in Washington, DC. Her personal website, where she writes on topics including her experiences with the Legion of Mary, prison ministry and spiritual study can be found at www.laurademaria.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at @LauraRDeMaria.

If you enjoyed this essay, subscribe below to receive a daily digest of all our essays.

Thank you for supporting us!

  • Mary is an ideal model of humility toward God, which we can emulate; but when our imitation of her humility shifts from God to her, then there is a major problem because she is only human.

    • tanmara

      She may be only human, but to have humility as pure as hers, deserved her the right to bare the One True Savior Jesus Christ, The Son of GOD. There is no major problem in that she is the ideal model of God to emulate.

      False humility on the other hand is to believe that her humility is flawed to follow. I would love to have the humility of Mary to earn me 1 millionth of what GOD saw in HER.

  • I have to say that the rosary (and of course Mary) was a huge part in my journey towards becoming Catholic. I had no previous experience in Catholicism other than the anti-Catholic training of my Baptist/Evangelical formation. At one point I became curious about Catholicism and, surprising to me, willing to explore. Strangely I felt a strong urge to buy a rosary and learn to pray it. Totally on my own, and really in secret, I began to fumblingly pray the rosary. Everything about doing that was foreign to my experience and the theology in which I was raised, but it seemed to be the most right thing to do. Often I would pray that I would become Catholic, that is, to overcome all my objections and hesitations. I wanted to enter the Church but was too bound up in worries and concerns because of my personal history. I thank the rosary, and Mary’s intercession to my finally entering the Church.

  • Mark McCann

    How can something be so simple and yet so profound? You did a great job in sharing your devotion. Just a question: How do you address non-Catholics that say you are “worshipping” Mary? I think you answered a lot of it in your post, but I am curious to hear your thoughts. Great piece…as usual.

    • Laurence Charles Ringo

      Frankly, I would like to hear the answer to that question myself. Given all that I have read (and are still reading) over the past few years about how Roman Catholics view Mary, if they DON’T worship her, we need a new word for worship.Alphonse Ligouri’s”The Glories of Mary” has me convinced that Roman Catholics consider Mary practically God’s equal! “Mediatrix of All Graces”? What the what does that even mean? I await ANYONE’S reply. And please: Bolster any argument you have with Holy Writ, not so-called “tradition”. Thanks.—JESUS IS LORD.🦁

    • Caine

      Larry,
      The answer below is from the Catholic website at http://www.lifeteen.com that I believe answers your question:
      “To Jesus Through Mary

      When Catholics pray to Mary they are not worshiping her, rather they are honoring her and asking for her intercession on their behalf — in fact, more than praying “to” her, we pray “with” Mary, asking her to pray with and for us. St. Louis de Montfort uses an incredible analogy of a peasant requesting a favor from a king, to explain Mary’s role in our relationship with God:

      It is as if a peasant, wishing to gain the friendship and benevolence of the king, went to the queen and presented her with a fruit which was his whole revenue, in order that she might present it to the king. The queen, having accepted the poor little offering from the peasant, would place the fruit on a large and beautiful dish of gold, and so, on the peasant’s behalf, would present it to the king. Then the fruit, however unworthy in itself to be a king’s present, would become worthy of his majesty because of the dish of gold on which it rested and the person who presented it.

      We are that peasant — sinful and broken — wishing to gain the favor of the King. Mary, Queen of Heaven, willingly takes our messy, imperfect prayers and purifies, sanctifies, and beautifies them; placing them on a dish of gold before our King, Jesus.

      Honor Your Mother

      As Jesus was dying on the cross “he said to his mother, ‘Woman behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Son, behold, your Mother” (John 19:26-27). In that moment, Jesus gave us his mother. We honor Mary, not only because she is our mother, but because God, himself, honored her. Out of all the women in the world, God chose Mary to bring his Son into this world. Mary gave God her unwavering yes, becoming a vessel for God’s plan for Salvation. From the moment of conception to the foot of the cross, she is the perfect embodiment of the obedience of faith (CCC 144). It is for this, that we hold Mary in such high esteem.

      Do Not Be Afraid of Loving Mary

      St. Maximilian Kolbe said:

      “Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin Mary too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did and if anyone does not wish to have Mary Immaculate for his mother, he will not have Christ for his brother.”

      By loving and honoring Mary, we can grow in the ability to emulate her life — to make a complete and total gift of ourselves to God, to give God our ‘yes.’ Through Mary we can grow to know and love her son, Jesus, more deeply because she continuously directs our hearts to Him.

      “Mary, Mother of Jesus, give me your heart so beautiful, so pure, so immaculate, so full of love and humility that I may be able to receive Jesus in the Bread of Life,love Him as You loved Him, and serve Him as You served Him….” St. Teresa of Calcutta”

  • Dom C

    Great post, Laura! No greater humility, courage and trust than Our Lady. I would also recommend St. Maximilian Kolbe’s Militia Immaculata ( https://missionimmaculata.com/ ) for anyone interested in deeper devotion to Our Lady.