Coming to the Catholic Church after growing up in the Protestant tradition for the majority of my life, there were a few Catholic teachings that I had a hard time wrapping my head around.
“Wait, that’s REALLY the Body, Blood, SOUL and DIVINITY of JESUS CHRIST!?”
“Hold up, I have to say WHAT to a guy in a collar!?”
“Waaaaaait a minute, Mary is my Mother as well!? If I love her, I won’t be able to love Jesus!”
Seriously, that last one I thought about for a long time. For some reason, the idea of allowing Mary into my life as my Mother and letting her love me felt like I was betraying Jesus. It almost felt as if I was elevating Mary into the position of my Savior. I knew she was important (after all, of ALL the women in the world, God chose Mary – that’s pretty significant), but I wanted to keep her at arm’s length because I was scared of her.
It wasn’t until I did a year of missionary work with NET Ministries, and was placed on a team of 11 other wonderful young adults, that I was learned how gentle and loving Mary is and how her whole role in my life was to constantly point me back to her Son.
I’m not a Marian expert in the least, but I have come to know and love the role she plays in my life and how I aspire to love Jesus as perfectly as she did. Below are three reasons why I love Mary:
- She loves Jesus perfectly.
I’m a modern calligraphist, a self-proclaimed “doodler.” If I want to be perfect at this trade, then I want to seek out people who are already perfect at it and learn from them. I want to learn from the best so that I too can be the best.
If I want to love Jesus perfectly as He asks me too, then I need to seek out people who love Him perfectly so that I can learn from them. One of the beautiful things about the Catholic Church is that I don’t have to figure out how to be holy on my own; I don’t have to forge my own path and make up stuff as I go – there are SO many amazing models of holy men and women who have gone before me that I can imitate. Mary is the perfect disciple, the perfect apostle, and the perfect woman to imitate if I want to love Jesus perfectly. One of the prayers I pray constantly is: “Mary, please teach me how to love your Son perfectly as you did.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “By her complete adherence to the Father’s will, to his Son’s redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church’s model of faith and charity” (CCC 967). THAT is what I am striving for, and THAT is my goal, to completely adhere to the Father’s will and promptings of the Holy Spirit. Why not follow the example of someone who has done it perfectly?
As one of my favorite saints says, “Mary, give me your heart: so beautiful, so pure, so immaculate; your heart so full of love and humility that I may be able to receive Jesus in the Bread of Life and love Him as you love Him and serve Him in the distressing guise of the poor.” (Saint Teresa of Calcutta)
- She gives me courage to say “yes” to God, even when I don’t fully know what I’m saying “yes” to.
I love Mary’s response to the angel Gabriel when he laid out what God was asking of her: “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” (Luke 1:34) Naturally, if an angel appeared to me and told me that I had found favor with God, that I would bear a Son and name Him Jesus, and that He would be called Son of the Most High, I would be a little confused as to how God was going to pull this off. Tradition tells us that Mary was a teenager when this happened. And yet her response to the angel, even without fully knowing what she was saying yes to, was: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) What boldness! What trust! What confidence in God’s will for her life!
So often, if God asks me to do something, I question, I doubt, I weigh the pros and cons, and really question if this is the best thing for me – obviously I need to grow a lot in holiness, so please pray for me? ☺ But as Father Mike Schmitz once said, God will never ask you to do more than Mary did, and all He asked of her was to say “yes.” God is SO gentle and loving and created us for a PURPOSE. Why would I think that He would lead me to something that ultimately wouldn’t make me happier than anything I could have imagined?
By Mary’s yes, or her fiat, I am encouraged to say yes to whatever God asks of me, knowing that what I’m saying yes to will lead to His glorification here on this earth. After all, isn’t that what I deeply desire anyways?!
- Finally, my devotion to her does not take away my devotion to Jesus; in fact, it strengthens it.
I was always afraid that somehow my relationship with Mary would take the place of my relationship with my Savior, Jesus. Oh, how naïve and ignorant I was…
The Catechism states: “Mary’s role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it.” (CCC 964) When I love Mary, I love the Church. When I devote myself to her, I devote my life to her Son because as I said before, her whole role is to point us, her children, back to her Son. As Saint Maximilian Kolbe said, “Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.”
I have to imagine that when God was searching for the perfect vessel to harbor and keep safe His own Beloved Son, He didn’t just choose anyone – He chose Mary. Mary was tasked with training, raising, teaching, and ultimately loving Jesus in such a way that it prepared Him to accept the will of His Father to ultimately die for all of humanity. God chose Mary to be His Son’s mother, and I have the audacity to doubt that I could love Mary too much!? Saint Louis de Montfort writes, “We never give more honor to Jesus than when we honor His Mother, and we honor her simply and solely to honor Him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek – Jesus, her Son.” I want to love Jesus perfectly, that’s my mission and goal in life; and how sweet it is to have someone in Heaven showing me how to do that.
These are just some of the revelations I’ve gotten from my growing relationship with the Mother of our Lord. I encourage you today that if you’ve ever been hesitant, or maybe don’t know where to start with your relationship with Mary, there are some EXCELLENT books and resources I’ve read over the past couple of years that you can look into.
The World’s First Love – this book changed my ENTIRE perspective on Mary.
33 Days to Morning Glory– a beautiful, simplified version of St. Louis de Montfort’s Total Consecration to Mary.
My prayer for you is that just as the Beloved Disciple John took her into his home (John 19:27), we also learn to bring Mary into the home of our hearts and allow ourselves to love her, and allow her to teach us how to love her Son perfectly.