Mary. What a gal.

I mentioned to you some time ago that it’s taken me a long time to understand, in a personal way, Mary (The Blessed Mother) and her role in my life.

To be sure I’m properly educated in what the Church teaches about Mary. She is: Mother of Jesus and Mother of God and Mother of the Church. She is Our Lady of the Rosary, Mother of Sorrows, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and the Immaculate Conception. Some call her Mediatrix of Grace and Co-redemptrix. Whew!

I believe all these things (though I don’t fully understand the last two). And that’s the way it’s been for most of my life . . . I know what the Church teaches about Mary but it’s been on a theological level. She’s been someone to study; a holy woman who did a great job with her son Jesus. But that was all long ago.

What’s been missing is a personal relationship with her. I always thought that was for me and Jesus. (I didn’t want to go to Mary when I could go right to her son.) In other words, what does Mary have to do with me? Can I talk with her? Does she know who I am? Can she teach me what I need to know? Will friendship with her take away from friendship with Christ?

So for years I ignored Mary.

Then it happened. I was praying on retreat one night in chapel. Sitting in the silence for some days had become quite frustrating and I had grown increasingly restless.

For a reason I can only call God’s grace, it suddenly came to my imagination that someone was kneeling in the dark up by the tabernacle. My thought then led me to consider that it was Mary, praying as she had that day at the foot of the cross. (This is called “meditation” in the spiritual books).
Being the “wise guy”, I decided to challenge this woman and in my mind (or perhaps out loud, I can’t remember), I said to her, “Your son is awfully quiet tonight.”

At this moment I can only remember her face, partially covered with her veil, turning slightly and with a smile that was fresh and young and confident, she said: “Don’t worry. He knows you’re here.”

All questions stopped. There was no need for further conversation. “Mary, if He knows I’m here that’s all that matters. Thanks.” The chapel returned as it was, dark and empty.

What had just happened? As I say, it was a grace. And the grace was not so much that I had this conversation (it was a lovely experience), the real gift was what followed in the days after.

I was given to realize that for all her exulted titles, Mary was my “prayer partner”. She prays with me. And she prays with much greater clarity about God’s will for me than I do. Her smile that night in chapel continues to tell me that as quiet as Christ seems in my life – he is with me and it pleases him that I want to be with him as well.

Lastly, and best of all, I now have Mary to “take things to Jesus for me”. I figure hey, if she is so certain he’s with us, then she knows his mind better than I do. (Here’s where a mother’s knowledge of her son is her gift to me).

So I think, why not ask her to talk to Jesus about what he wants me to do? Something like, “Mary please let me know your son’s plan for me. What does he want me to do?” Or, “Mary tell your son how weak I am and slow to understand. Mary, tell Jesus to make it clear for me.”

This is not , as I once feared, taking away from Jesus. In fact Mary intensifies our relationship with Christ. What she adds is her “partnering” with me. I’m not alone in this sometimes confusing search for God in my life. Most times I begin my prayer straight to Jesus or God the Father. But I try at some point to include a little word to Mary my “prayer partner”, “What should I tell your son Mary?” “Does Jesus even know who I am?”

“Don’t worry.” She says. “He knows you’re here.” God is good.

Fr. Tim

PS. All this the Catholic Church has always taught about Mary. I’m just late for the party!

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