This week – and throughout the month of October – we celebrate the Month of the Rosary, honoring the Mother of Our Lord and looking to the Blessed Virgin as an example of, as Pope Francis says, a “woman of faith who made room for God in her heart and in her plan.”
By: Elise Italiano, Director of Communications
My Christian friends who belong to other denominations often ask me about Mary. They wonder why I pray to her, when I can talk directly with her Son. While my upbringing in an Italian American household shaped my Marian imagination (who with my background wouldn’t have rosaries, statues, and scapulars with Our Lady’s image lying around the house?), the reality is that I have come to know Jesus more intimately through His mother.
Why do we pray to Mary? Bishop Loverde explains in the Arlington Catholic Herald:
In the Jewish tradition, the people approached the Queen with their needs and petitions, trusting that she would bring them to the King and plead with him on their behalf. Interestingly enough, the Queen was the King’s mother, not his wife. In a Judeo-Christian tradition, Mary preserves this role as Queen and Advocate, laying before her Son our needs, hopes, desires, and petitions. What better advocate to have than the one who is “highly favored” by God?
Mary’s intercession for her children is deeply relational and personal. Though spared from the stain of original sin, she sympathizes with our human frailty, and intimately knows the hearts of each of her children. Just as a mother knows better than a child what he or she truly needs, when we ask for her intercession, she presents God with petitions that are reflective of what will truly satisfy us. How freeing it is to trust in her perfect advocacy!
Is the Rosary about Mary? About Jesus? According to Pope Saint John Paul II:
The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all thedepth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium. It is an echo of the prayerof Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb. With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer.
One of my favorite books on Mary is The Reed of God, by Caryll Houselander.
I remember laughing when I first read this:
When I was a small child someone for whom I had a great respect told me never to do anything that Our Lady would not do; for, she said, if I did, the angels in heaven would blush…But even if I faced a blank future shackled with respectability, it was still impossible to imagine Our lady doing anything that I would do, for the very simple reason that I simply could not imagine her doing anything at all.
Isn’t it true? How many images and statues of Mary do we see, as if she were frozen in a perfectly pious position? How are we supposed to live lives modeled after her?
Houselander shares her answer:
Mary has been essential in keeping the faith of Christians alive from the very beginning.
Mary is the woman of faith; she is the Mother of the Church; she believed. Her life testifies that God does not deceive us, or abandon his people, even in moments or situations when it might seem that he is not there. Mary was the first of her Son’s disciples and in moments of difficulty she kept alive the hope of the apostles.
So, do Catholics love Mary too much?
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