PRAYING WITH MARY

The Holy Catholic Church

Above all, the Lord our God is Lord alone. He is the One and only God we worship. We do not worship Mary in the Holy Rosary, but ask her to pray with us and for us. To appreciate the communion of Saints we must understand the structure of the Holy Catholic Church. We are invited to become members of the family of God through the promise of the Holy Spirit given to us at our Baptism. As individual temples of the Holy Trinity which dwells within us we are the members of the body of Christ. When these individual members unite as the Holy Catholic Church we become the one mystical body of Christ. This mystical body maintains Christ as the Head and draws her life from Christ’s embodiment in the Word and His real presence in the Holy Eucharist. 

Whether on earth or in Heaven, all those souls who have freely chosen to enter into communion with the Most Holy Trinity form the mystical body of Christ. Those Saints who have gone to Heaven and already claimed their victory in Christ are known as the Church Triumphant. While those souls who continue to battle here on earth for the salvation of their souls and others are considered to be the Church Militant. The souls who have passed from time into eternity, but have not yet been fully purified and are being prepared to enter into the presence of Our Lord, remain in Purgatory as the Church Suffering. Though there are three recognized parts of the Church, we remain as one body with one Head, Jesus Christ, and one Holy Spirit which unites us all and gives life to this body of Christ. 

We believe we are as prayerfully united with the Saints of the Church Triumphant and the holy souls in the Church Suffering, as we are with our brothers and sisters of the Church Militant. Prayer is the common life-blood linking us together, as we all intercede for each other’s needs and the salvation of souls. Intercession is an integral part of living out our Christian faith and our call to love God by loving and serving one another. 

Each time we say "Our" Father in the Lord's Prayer we are reminded of our unity with Jesus Christ and one another. Jesus prays with us and joins each prayer to His own. As Catholic Christians we firmly believe that our prayers are shared with all those baptized in Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit which flows through each member of the body of Christ here on earth and in Heaven. 

We honor Saints as holy people, but we never adore them as Christ alone is to be adored. Devotion to Mary and the Saints enhances our relationship with the mystical body of Christ, and therefore draws us into deeper communion with the Most Holy Trinity. It is an integral part of our faith journey as it prepares us to enjoy eternity as One Holy Family beneath Our Heavenly Father.

Praying With Mary 

Honoring Our Blessed Mother does not diminish our worship of the Lord, but actually enables us to give God greater glory. Just as a musician is admired for a masterpiece that he composes and plays, we praise God in the highest for His most beautiful creation in the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the work of salvation that He has revealed through her. 

As we pray the Hail Mary, though it is addressed directly to Our Blessed Mother, it greatly glorifies the Most Blessed Trinity because all praise returns to God Who is the cause of all her virtues and perfections. And although we honor Our Lady in this prayer, God the Father is glorified because we are honoring the most perfect of His creatures, God the Son is glorified because we are praising His most pure Mother, and God the Holy Spirit is glorified because we are admiring all the graces with which He has filled His Spouse. 

When we bless Our Lady by reciting the Hail Mary, she always passes on these praises to Almighty God in the same way as she did in her beautiful song, the Magnificat, when she was praised by Saint Elizabeth . In essence, the Hail Mary becomes a perpetual echo of the Magnificat, as we continually celebrate the work of redemption which began with her eternal “Yes” to bear the Son of God within her virginal womb.

Mary As Our Mother 

As Mother of the Church Mary fulfills her duties of feeding and educating her children with much care and tenderness, that we may be raised to mature sons and daughters of God in the virtues and likeness of Christ. In turn, we try to become like Jesus in loving Mary as our very own Mother. When we approach her in the Holy Rosary with hearts full of love, it is inevitable that we are drawn deeply into the Sacred Heart of her Son as we reflect upon and enter into the Mysteries of their lives. For loving Mary with grateful affection lies at the very Heart of Christ, and is the first step toward our call to become Jesus made present to the world we live in. 

St. Louis de Montfort refers to Our Blessed Mother as “the mold of God” because it was within her that Jesus Christ was molded and formed. It follows then that those who wish to be formed in Jesus Christ, and to form Jesus Christ within themselves, must also be molded in our Mother Mary. Though there are other spiritual routes and practices independent of Mary to attain Christian perfection, the mold of her Immaculate Heart is by far the surest and most effective way to form Jesus Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Taking the example of making a statue of Jesus using a hammer and chisel versus making the same figure by pouring it into a mold, we see the advantages to being formed in the mold of Our Mother: sometimes other methods do not succeed in giving an accurate representation of Jesus, either from having no knowledge or experience of the Person of Jesus, or from making mistakes which have spoiled the work. Whereas those who do not trust in their own skill, but only in the goodness of the mold, cast themselves and lose themselves in Mary, to become the faithful portraits of Jesus Christ. Overall, it is a much faster route to effectively achieving the desired goal, which involves much less labor. One must remember, however, that we can only cast in a mold what is melted; that is to say, we must destroy our selfish pride and humbly become a new creation in Christ through Our Mother Mary.

The Reign Of The Immaculate Heart Of Mary 
And The Sacred Heart Of Jesus 

Because Mary was conceived without sin, she remained completely and lovingly obedient to the Will of Our Father at all times. This abandonment to the Divine Will made it possible for her Immaculate Heart to perfectly unite with the Holy Spirit and conceive Jesus within her Virginal womb. If the Sacred Heart of Jesus is to take flesh within our hearts, we too must be completely consumed by the Immaculate Heart of Mary and espoused to the Holy Spirit through Baptism. Her spirit of abandonment to the Will of Our Father must enter into the place of our selfish will, in order to live in union with the Holy Spirit and become like Jesus in our thoughts, words, actions and desires of our heart. In this way alone can we rejoice in God and glorify the Lord in the way that we were created to. This journey toward holiness through their two Hearts is known as the Reign of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

Mary Teaches By Obtaining The Holy Spirit 

During this time of prayer the Blessed Virgin Mary comes to us as Mother and teacher. As we meditate upon the virtues of Jesus and Mary and the events surrounding their lives, Our Blessed Mother gently guides our thoughts and assists our understanding of these Sacred Mysteries through her powerful intercession. In these Mysteries we strive not only to learn the message Jesus taught, but more importantly to truly come to know Him. And while the Holy Spirit is our Divine guide from within, there is no human being who will ever know Jesus better and could instruct us more perfectly in this matter than His Mother. 

Contemplation has been referred to as simply looking upon the face of Jesus. From His infancy until His burial, and in her memory until she was assumed into Heaven, no one has ever devoted themselves to this loving practice more than His Mother. It makes sense, then, that we would want to enter into contemplation of Jesus in union with her as our teacher. No one knows Christ better than Mary, and no one can help us to understand the events surrounding His life, death and Resurrection better than His Mother. This is why we ask Our Lady to accompany us in prayer as we meditate upon these Mysteries in the Most Holy Rosary. Through the ages this classroom has prepared many souls to bear much fruit in the likeness of Christ through contemplation. In these ways, the Most Holy Rosary has come to be known by many as the School of Mary. 

As she invites us to follow her in pondering the moments of her Son’s life, she obtains through her intercession all the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit we need to become like Jesus. In other words, Mary does not simply teach us through her knowledge of Jesus, and her inspiration and guidance in prayer. Our Blessed Mother actually fosters our growth in His virtues, by obtaining for us the grace of contrite and repentant hearts to leave our sinful ways and walk in the paths of Christian perfection. Loving us as only a Mother could, her faithful presence and favors obtained during this time of prayer allow us to experience first hand the depths of His mercy and loving-kindness. 

This time of contemplation fosters an intimate relationship with Mary as it becomes not only about listening in this school, but true two-way conversation. We are encouraged by Mary our teacher to be good students within this classroom and ask questions that will open our hearts and minds to the truths of Christ. Our active participation helps us to absorb the learning material better. Another significant benefit is the light which radiates from this personal encounter with the Divine has great affects on our ability to bear this light to others, as we learn to communicate in a deeper and more meaningful way. 

Faithful Mother 

Jesus tells us in Scripture that where two or more are gathered in prayer He is present. He also gave us the most precious gift of Mary to be our Mother moments before He died on the Cross. These promises are the power that gives life to the Holy Rosary. Obedient to her Son’s final request to her before He gave His last breath for us, the Blessed Virgin Mary loves us each individually as if we were her only child; the same way in which she loves Jesus. As a faithful Mother, we believe that Mary comes to pray with us when we invite her, and especially in our time of need; as we gather in prayer we also believe that Jesus, then draws closer and becomes ever present. When praying the Holy Rosary we trust that Our Blessed Mother unites our petitions with hers as she pleads for us before her Son and the throne of the Father. Without question, our greatest advocate in Heaven is the one Jesus gave us at the foot of the Cross, and thus we rely on His promises and the intercession of our Mother Mary as she comes to our assistance. For these things we are eternally grateful, and offer praise to Our God by faithfully and respectfully making use of and enjoying this gift He has given to us. 

From the earliest records of Church History, it is evident that the Mary’s role as Mother of the Church has been highly esteemed. The early Church Fathers, as well the Doctors of the Church, and the greatest of Saints have all loved Mary as their very own Mother, and taken her to be the surest means of attaining holiness and true adoration of her Son. Below are several examples of some of the most well known Saints through the ages who have displayed a tremendous love, respect and devotion to Our Most Holy Mother. 

Saint Augustine
Doctor of the Church
354- 430 A.D.
 

“And you can expect such great things from her generosity! She is our Mother and our friend. She is the empress of the universe and loves us more than all the mothers and queens of the world have ever loved any one human being. This is really so, for the charity of the Blessed Virgin far surpasses the natural love of all mankind and even of all the angels, as Saint Augustine says.” 

“Blessed Virgin Mary, who can worthily repay you with praise and thanks for having rescued a fallen world by your generous consent! Receive our gratitude, and by your prayers obtain the pardon of our sins. Take our prayers into the sanctuary of Heaven and enable them to make our peace with God.

Holy Mary, help the miserable, strengthen the discouraged, comfort the sorrowful, pray for your people, plead for the clergy, intercede for all women consecrated to God. May all who venerate you feel now your help and protection. Be ready to help us when we pray, and bring back to us the answers to our prayers. Make it your continual concern to pray for the people of God, for you were blessed by God and were made worthy to bear the Redeemer of the world, who lives and reigns forever. Amen.” 

Saint Bernard of Clarivaux
Doctor of the Church
1090-1153 A.D.
 

“In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal.”

Saint Dominic
Founder of the Most Holy Rosary
1170-1221 A.D.

St. Dominic was so convinced of the efficacy of the Holy Rosary and of its great value that, when he heard confessions, he hardly ever gave any other penance. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, and instructed by the Blessed Virgin as well as by his own experience, Saint Dominic preached the Holy Rosary without ceasing. He preached it by his example as well as by his sermons, in cities and in country places, to people of high station and low, before scholars and the uneducated, to Catholics and to heretics. The Holy Rosary, which he said every day, was his preparation for every sermon and his little tryst with Our Lady immediately after preaching.

Saint Thomas Aquinas
Doctor of the Church
1225-1274 A.D. 

O most blessed and sweet Virgin Mary, Mother of God, filled with all tenderness, Daughter of the Most High King, Lady of the Angels, Mother of all the faithful, 

On this day and all the days of my life, I entrust to your merciful heart my body and my soul, all my acts, thoughts, choices, desires, words deeds, my entire life and death, 

So that, with your assistance, all may be ordered to the good according to the will of your beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Be to me, my most Holy Lady, a comforter and an ally against the stratagems and traps of the ancient enemy, and of all those who harbor ill intentions against me. 

From your beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, request for me the grace to resist firmly the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and a constant resolve to sin no more and to persevere in your service and the service of your beloved Son. 

My most Holy Lady, I also beseech you to obtain for me true obedience and humility of heart so that I may recognize myself truly as a sinner – wretched and weak – and powerless, without the grace and help of my Creator, and without your holy prayers, to do any kind of good work or even to resist the unrelenting assaults of evil. 

Procure for me also, O my most sweet Lady, perpetual purity of mind and body, so that with a pure heart and chaste body I may be strengthened to serve you and your beloved Son through the Dominican Order. 

From Him, obtain for me a spirit of poverty willingly accepted with patience and tranquility of mind, so that I will have the strength to sustain the labors of this Order and to work for my own salvation and that of my neighbors. 

Obtain for me as well, O most sweet Lady, true charity with which from the depths of my heart I may love your Most Holy Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and, after Him, love you above all other things, and love my neighbor in God and because of God. 

Thereby may I rejoice in his goodness, sorrow over his evils, despise no one, never judge rashly, and never in my heart exalt myself over anyone. Grant, O Queen of Heaven, that ever in my heart I may have fear and love alike for your most sweet Son; that I may always give thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon me not for my merits but by His kindness; 

And that I may ever make a pure and sincere confession and do true penance for my sins, in order that I might deserve to obtain His mercy and grace. I pray also that, at the end of my life, you, Mother without compare, Gate of Heaven, and Advocate of sinners, will not allow me, your unworthy servant, to stray from the Holy Catholic Faith, 

But that you will protect me with your great piety and mercy, defend me from evil spirits, and obtain for me, through the blessed and glorious Passion of your Son and through your own intercession, received in hope, the forgiveness of all of my sins. When I die in your love and His love, may you direct me into the way of salvation and blessedness. Amen. 

Saint Frances de Sales
Doctor of the Church
1567-1622 A.D. 

The example of Saint Francis de Sales, the great spiritual director of his time, should spur us on to pray the Most Holy Rosary, since, great saint that he was, he bound himself by oath to meditate upon each Mystery of the Rosary every single day as long as he lived. 

Saint Padre Pio
Holy Confessor and Stigmatic
1887-1968 A.D. 

“This is the lesson which Our Lady wanted to remind us of at the beginning of this century: God wants to save the world by devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and there is no problem, material or spiritual, national or international, that cannot be solved by the Holy Rosary and our sacrifices.”

He was never without a Rosary, there was even one under his pillow. During the day he recited several dozens of Rosaries. A few hours before he died, as those around him urged him to speak a few more words, all he could say was: "Love the Blessed Virgin and make Her loved. Always say the Rosary!"

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