Our Lady

The following is an excerpt from the Marian Press book 52 Weeks with St. Faustina by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle:

“Mary is my Instructress, who is ever teaching me how to live for God. My spirit brightens up in Your gentleness and Your humility, O Mary.”

— Diary, 620

Sister Faustina enjoyed extraordinary encounters with the Blessed Virgin Mary, the likes of which most of us will never experience this side of Heaven. However, because Sr. Faustina shared them with her confessors and in her Diary, we can be edified and benefit from them. This week’s spiritual exercise unveils the importance of the Blessed Mother in our lives and offers a look at this mystic’s relationship with Our Lady. Let’s take a look!

In God’s great love for His children, He bestowed the exquisite gift of Mother Mary on us when Jesus was hanging on the Cross. “Here is your mother” (Jn 19:27), Jesus uttered. Because of the great gift of Mother Mary, we should strive to recognize that Mary is not some far away saint of ages past, but a real mother to us now. She has shown great love for God’s children from the beginning of her collaboration in the work of Christ as a co-redeemer. Before that, as a young Jewish girl, Mary prayed with her people for the coming of the Messiah. Perhaps she was as surprised as anyone else that she would be chosen to be the Mother of God!

The Blessed Mother sings the praises of God, as we can see in her Magnificat. She always, and I mean always, leads us ever closer to her Son, Jesus. And she is very practical! Her famous instruction to the wine stewards (“Do whatever He tells you” [Jn 2:5]) uttered at the wedding feast at Cana to help a bride and groom is also meant for all of us. Yes, we need to do whatever He tells us. Mother Mary can help us to figure that out — how to stay close to Jesus and how to discern and follow His holy will for us. Yes, Mother Mary can help us now.

It would be difficult to count the many writings and movies about the Blessed Mother. There are also countless prayers invoking her aid. Mary is so beloved and has much to teach us. Many saints and popes were deeply devoted to the Blessed Mother. At one point, St. John Paul II questioned his devotion to the Mother of God. He wondered if his great love for her might take away from his love for Christ. But he learned from another saint that he had nothing to worry about. Saint Louis de Montfort played a pivotal role in this pope’s decision to stay with Mary. “I found the answer to my perplexities due to the fear that the devotion to Mary, if excessive, might end by compromising the supremacy of the worship owed to Christ,” the pontiff explained. “Under the wise guidance of St. Louis-Marie, I understood that, if one lives the mystery of Mary in Christ, such a risk does not exist,” he added. Saint John Paul II explained that Mary “accompanies us in our pilgrimage of faith, hope, and charity toward an ever more intense union with Christ, only Savior and Mediator of salvation.”

With regard to his coat of arms, St. John Paul II said, “As is known, in my episcopal coat of arms [...] the motto ‘Totus Tuus’ is inspired by the doctrine of St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort. These two words express total belonging to Jesus through Mary.”

“But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart” (Lk 2:19).

This pope proclaimed in his encyclical letter Redemptoris Mater (Mother of the Redeemer), “As the Council says, ‘Mary figured profoundly in the history of salvation ... . Hence when she is being preached and venerated, she summons the faithful to her Son and his sacrifice, and to love for the Father.’” The Blessed Mother played a pivotal role in salvation history. God’s grace and Mary’s deep humility and faith prepared the young Jewish teen to respond wholeheartedly to the Archangel Gabriel’s greeting with a positive “fiat,” “Let it be done.” Mary desired only God’s holy will and humbly accepted that she was the chosen one — the holy daughter of Anne and Joachim, destined to conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit and give birth to the Son of God. She could have said “no” out of fear or a myriad of other reasons. However, her momentous “yes” has changed the world for all eternity. At the same time, her example of great faith in the face of uncertainty gives each one of us the courage to utter our own “yes” to God, “yes” to whatever it is we are meant to do.

“Indeed, at the Annunciation,” St. John Paul II pointed out, “Mary entrusted herself to God completely, with the ‘full submission of intellect and will,’ manifesting ‘the obedience of faith’ to him who spoke to her through his messenger. She responded, therefore, with all her human and feminine ‘I,’ and this response of faith included both perfect cooperation with ‘the grace of God that precedes and assists’ and perfect openness to the action of the Holy Spirit, who ‘constantly brings faith to completion by his gifts.’”

Again, in his catechesis on the Virgin Mary, St. John Paul II points out that humility of heart is particularly attractive to the Lord. We will soon learn that it was a favorite virtue of the Blessed Mother, as well. “With her wise reading of history, Mary leads us to discover the criteria of God’s mysterious action. Overturning the judgments of the world, he comes to the aid of the poor and lowly, to the detriment of the rich and powerful, and in a surprising way he fills with good things the humble who entrust their lives to him (cf. Redemptoris Mater, n. 37).”

Sister Faustina and Our Lady

Sister Faustina intensely loved the Blessed Mother. Early on in the religious life, as mentioned in the preface of this book, Sr. Faustina spent six hours steeped in prayer before the image of the Black Madonna at the shrine in Czestochowa, Poland. Another sister had to fetch her from the shrine for a meal and to catch a train. Sister Faustina would later reveal that during those long prayerful hours, the Blessed Mother spoke much to her heart about the spiritual life.

Sister Faustina kept company with the Blessed Mother in prayer, and at times, the Queen of Heaven left her throne to visit the sister. One evening, when St. Faustina was enduring a terrible spiritual dark night, Mother Mary came to visit Sr. Faustina. She brought great comfort through her words and presence. When Sr. Faustina asked the Virgin Mary if she knew of the terrible agony Faustina was enduring, the Blessed Mother not only said that she knew, but reassured Faustina that she was suffering right along with her. They were united in suffering for souls. It was music to Sr. Faustina’s ears.

One time, as she was preparing for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God, Sr. Faustina prayed even more intensely, thanking God for the great gift of Mary. She took part in the congregation’s nine-day novena, but she also desired to do more. In Mary’s honor, St. Faustina prayed 1,000 Hail Marys on each of the novena’s nine days. On the actual feast day, Sr. Faustina saw the Blessed Mother at Mass. The Mother of God smiled at Sr. Faustina and told her that, at God’s command, the Blessed Virgin Mary was to be in a special and exclusive way Sr. Faustina’s mother. She added that she desired that Sr. Faustina would be, in a special way, her child. Mary then let Sr. Faustina know that she desired Sr. Faustina to especially practice three virtues: humility, purity, and love of God. She said, “As My daughter, you must especially radiate with these virtues” (Diary, 1412-1415). The Blessed Mother then pressed Sr. Faustina to her Heart and disappeared. Sister Faustina said her own heart became immensely attracted to these virtues, and she practiced them faithfully. It would seem that the second and third virtues mentioned by Our Lady flow forth from the first virtue of humility, which is so necessary for spiritual growth. Like Jesus, Mary very much valued the virtue of humility.

One evening as Sr. Faustina was praying, the Mother of God told her, “Your lives must be like Mine: quiet and hidden, in unceasing union with God, pleading for humanity and preparing the world for the second coming of God” (Diary, 625). Now, the Blessed Mother was referring to the lives of religious sisters. As members of the laity, our lives might not be quiet or hidden (maybe far from it!). At the same time, we should also seek quiet in which to commune with God, as well as pray for our world “for the second coming of God.” We need to step up to the plate!

Something to Ponder

When I was enduring a precarious pregnancy, Mother Teresa told me to put myself and my unborn baby into the hands of Mary — that the Blessed Mother would help me. Mother Teresa taught me a special prayer that I pray often:

“Mary, Mother of Jesus, be Mother to me now.” Mother Teresa taught simply. She offered an unadorned way in which to ask Mary for help for an urgent need. I like that she added the word, “now.” For I have no doubt that we need Mary now.

Throughout this week, take time to ponder the Blessed Mother’s life. Try your best to put time aside to learn more about Mary by reading Scripture or other writings on the Blessed Mother from a pope or saint, and spend more time with Mary in prayer. Ask her to draw you closer to her Son. When you pray your daily Rosary, try your best to immerse yourself into each mystery, pausing and praying for the many graces available to you. Always ask for graces! 

In the Diary passage that opens this chapter, we learn St. Faustina’s understanding of Mother Mary’s important teaching role in her life. “Mary is my Instructress, who is ever teaching me how to live for God.” Strive this week and beyond to learn from Mary and live more for God. Saint Faustina also said, “Mary, Immaculate Virgin, take me under Your special protection and guard the purity of my soul, heart, and body. You are the model and star of my life” (Diary, 874).

Can you sincerely pray that prayer to Mary now? If not, ask God to change your heart so that you can pray that prayer soon. Recalling St. Faustina’s nine days of a thousand Hail Marys, could you possibly pray even a few extra prayers to Mary each day?

A Merciful Action

Try to carry out a merciful action as a complete surprise to someone this week. Send a Mass card, a greeting card, or a warm note of some kind. If you feel so inclined, do it anonymously. Add to that something you decide you should do after praying to Jesus, Mary, and St. Faustina.

 

A PRAYER OF MERCY FOR THIS WEEK

(To be prayed each day this week.)

Dear Merciful Jesus, thank You for the gift of Your mother, Mary.

Help me to get closer to Her and learn from Her.

Thank You for Your great love!

Saint Faustina, please pray for me.

Jesus, I trust in You!

Mary, Mother of Jesus, be Mother to me now.

Amen.

You can order 52 Weeks with St. Faustina by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle here:

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Photo — Marian Fathers Archives

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