Praying to Mary in the Month of May
By Br. Leonard Konopka, MIC (May 7, 2007)
What I demand from you is prayer, prayer, and once again prayer for the world...always and everywhere, at all times and places, day or night, whenever you wake up, pray in the spirit. In spirit, one can always remain in prayer.
— The Mother of God to St. Faustina, Diary, 325
Recently someone sent me a very thoughtful email filled with inspiring prose and poetry. Among the many thoughtful suggestions offered was: "You can learn from monks and hermits without becoming one."
Although many can't even get to visit a monk or a hermitage, we need not travel long distances to listen to wisdom God provides us through St. Faustina in her Diary. When we consider the Diary of St. Faustina, we find many thought provoking and inspiring notions that can guide our spiritual life.
Take, for example, the top quote from Mary to St. Faustina about the need for prayer. We don't need a vision of Mary or to become a mystic like St. Faustina to see the value of our praying.
Our Lady is encouraging each of us to approach her during this month of May and when possible to turn to her inwardly throughout the moments of our day. St. Faustina found herself deeply aware of her communion with Mary. We don't necessarily need to run off to some distant retreat center nor some chapel, but simply turn to Mary in the Hail Mary — one of the most profound prayers of all time. It is a prayer that has been recited for generations past by the most humble as well as the giants of our times, namely, Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. We need no better role models who can motivate us.
Many Catholics say the Hail Mary without much benefit. Yet others say it repeatedly as it provides them a perfect avenue into the heart and mysteries of Mary. Some recite it hurriedly without dwelling on the words they are saying. Whereas a select few have been known to begin simply saying the first two words: Hail Mary, and must stop as they are overwhelmed with her presence.
Just like the email someone sent me, perhaps the following may assist you to pray to Mary as a friend and confidant.
— One Hail Mary well said gives us more graces than a thousand that are said thoughtlessly.
— The Hail Mary is like a deep well that we can never exhaust. Our prayers can give God's Mother great joy and obtain for us all the graces we need.
— St. Jerome tells us that "the truths contained in the Hail Mary are so sublime, so wonderful that no man or angel could fully understand them."
— St. Thomas Aquinas, "the wisest of saints and holiest of wise men," as Leo XIII called him, preached for 40 days in Rome on the Hail Mary, filling his hearers with rapture.
— Father F. Suarez, the holy and learned Jesuit, declared when dying that he would willingly give all the many learned books he wrote, all his life's labors, for the merit of one Hail Mary prayerfully and devoutly said.
— St. Mechtilde, who loved our Lady very much, was one day striving to compose a beautiful prayer in her honor. Our Lady appeared to her and said, "Desist, dear child, from your labor, for no prayer you could possibly compose would give me the joy and the delight of the Hail Mary."
— A certain man found joy in saying the Hail Mary slowly. The Blessed Virgin appeared to him smiling and announced to him the day and hour that he would die, granting him a most holy and happy death.
Once, our Lord asked St. Francis of Assisi to give Him something. The saint replied, "Lord, I can give you nothing for I have already given you all, all my love." Jesus said, "Francis, give Me it all again and again. It will give Me the same pleasure."
So too with our Mother, she accepts from us each time we say the Hail Mary the joys and delight she received from the angel Gabriel. Many graces and joys filled the soul of Mary at that moment.
Now when we say the Hail Mary we offer anew all these graces and joys to Our Lady and she accepts them with great delight. In return she gives us a share in these joys.
(Continued next week)
With St. Faustina we pray:
O Mary, Immaculate Virgin,
Pure crystal for my heart,
You are my strength, O secure anchor!
You are a shield and protection for a weak heart.
O Mary, you are pure, and unparalleled,
Virgin and Mother at one and the same time;
You're beautiful as the sun, by nothing defiled,
Nothing is worthy of comparison to the image of your soul.
Your beauty has enthralled the Thrice-Holy One's eye,
That He came down from heaven, forsaking th'eternal
And assumed from your heart body and blood,
Hiding for nine months in the Virgin's heart.
O Mother, Virgin, this will no one comprehend,
That the infinite God is becoming a man;
It's only love's and His inscrutable mercy's purpose.
Through you, Mother — it's given us to live with Him for ever.
O Mary, Vigin Mother and Heaven's Gate,
Through you salvation came to us;
Every grace to us streams forth through your hands,
And faithful imitation of you only will sanctify me.
O Mother, Virgin — most beautiful Lily.
Your heart was for Jesus the first tabernacle on earth,
And that, because your humility was the deepest,
Wherefore you were raised above Angel choirs and Saints.
O Mary, my sweet Mother,
To you I turn over my soul, my body and my poor heart.
Be the safeguard of my life,
Especially at death's hour, in the final fight.
— Diary, 161
Brother Leonard Konopka, MIC, is on the staff of the Marian Seminary in Washington, D.C. He also provides spiritual direction, retreats, and seminars.