In the Name of Mary

This is the fourth article in a series on the Litany of Loreto. Every month, I will explain this popular prayer line by line, providing you with spiritual and theological insights.

By Fr. Donald Calloway

Mother Inviolate, pray for us
This means that Mary never had an outburst of meanness or frustration - She never lost her temper. Some movies inaccurately portray Mary as displaying a teenage attitude or having a temper tantrum. She never suffered any internal struggles that resulted in uncontrollable, emotionally-charged outbursts.

This doesn't mean Mary didn't feel natural human emotions. For example, when the Archangel Gabriel came to Mary and said, "Do not be afraid" (Lk 1:30), that implies Mary felt startled, like any normal person would feel if an angel suddenly appeared to them. She probably thought, "What in the world is happening?" and maybe her heart started racing. That's a healthy, natural response to a perceived threat of something unknown and much different than giving in to an outburst of unkindness. So though Mary had natural human emotions, she always handled them in the best possible way, never letting her feelings get the best of her.

Mother Undefiled, pray for us
As a pious Jewish woman, Mary observed all the laws of ritual cleanliness required of her. But much more than that, her soul had no stain, blemish, spot, or wrinkle. She's immaculate, a pure vessel of God's grace, completely uncontaminated by sin. Mary embodied the will of God perfectly and so, took advantage of every grace He gave her. As our Blessed Mother, she passes that grace on to us and only asks that we, too, avoid defiling ourselves with sin.

Mother Most Amiable, pray for us
Mary is pleasant, kind, gracious, and somebody who you would look forward to being around. There is no drama, no tension, no discomfort relating to such a person because she radiated the humility, joy, and peace of the Lord.

Sometimes, we have the wrong impression of Mary because we only ever seem to see her in statues and images in which she has a stoic look on her face and her hands folded in prayer. I don't mean to disparage any of those images. They express an essential part of Mary's life and spirituality. But when she walked this earth, in many ways she seemed like any normal human being - not always walking around with her hands folded.

In her apparition at Kibeho, Rwanda, for example, Mary sang and even danced with the kids. That's mind-blowing to think about and yet so satisfying, because it reminds us that being fun and living a holy life are not mutually exclusive by any means.

Mother Most Admirable, pray for us
When you admire somebody, it's not necessarily adoration or worship. It means that she had qualities that others want to imitate. It has been said that imitation is the highest form of flattery. If she's admirable in pretty much everything, then we should imitate her.

For this reason, the name Mary has been, up until recently, the most common female name. When you take a name, whether it's hers or somebody else's, you want to be like them.

View the previous article previous article in this series.


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