May is the month traditionally dedicated to the Blessed Mother.
This May, I’m really looking forward to journeying more intentionally with Mary and asking her to bring me closer to Jesus. But my relationship with Mary hasn’t always been so intentional. For a long time, I had trouble relating to Mary. I prayed to her, and I always felt a connection to her total surrender to God at the Annunciation, but I never really related to her as a mother, or as a woman.
Looking back on my life, I can see Mary’s presence in small but important ways. I was born in October, the month dedicated to the Rosary. When I was growing up, my family and I attended Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. The Blessed Mother was woven into the fabric of our parish life without my even knowing it. The year that I made my First Holy Communion, I was chosen to crown the Blessed Mother—twice!
Then Mary started quietly guiding my discernment, and after I entered the convent, my formation and religious life. I entered the Daughters of St. Paul on the Feast of the Queenship of Mary. When I was a novice, every May we chose a book about the Blessed Mother for our spiritual reading. At the end of the month, we would share with each other what we had learned or something that had impressed us from the book we had read. I received the news that I had been admitted to first profession (i.e., to make my first vows as a religious sister) on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Clearly, Mary was a strong and consistent presence in my life! Even so, it was hard for me to relate to her as a mother, as a woman. Two things changed that for me: first, consistently praying with Mary’s response to God in the Bible; and second, watching a movie about Mary that made her come alive for me.
Praying with Mary in the Bible
Ever since I entered the convent, and even before, I have prayed with Mary’s presence in the Bible. Her surrender at the Annunciation, her generosity in the Visitation to Elizabeth, her quiet presence throughout Jesus’ life and especially at the foot of the cross, have truly taught me how to live my religious life. Slowly but surely, Mary’s words, attitudes, gestures, and even silence have penetrated by own life, prayer, and spirituality.
Watching a movie about Mary
Several years ago (long enough that I don’t remember what movie it was!), I watched a movie on the life of Mary. The experience of watching that movie made Mary real to me in a way she hadn’t been before. I realized that Mary could be my friend.
As a friend, the Blessed Mother has continued to come into my life in small but personal ways. She has even come into my life through my hobbies and things that I enjoy! I love languages, and the “Hail Mary” is one of the first things that I learn in any new language. It has become my favorite prayer. It is comforting and strengthening—like words spoken between friends. I have truly come to experience, as Bl. James Alberione says, that “the Rosary is the language of love.”
Our Co-foundress, Venerable Mother Thecla Merlo, used to write a letter to all the Sisters at the beginning of May, encouraging them to prepare many “flowers” for Mary during May by their prayers, sacrifices, and imitation of Mary. This could make your month of May extra special, too! I encourage you to look back over your life and see how the Blessed Mother has been present. Consider your relationship to her right now. What do you want it to be? What does she want it to be? And the most important question—how does Mary want to lead you to Jesus? Because, in the words of Bl. Alberione, “Mary always gives Jesus.”
To learn more about the Daughters of St. Paul devotion to Mary, Queen of Apostles, click here.
Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash