My three-year-old daughter loves Mary. Her name is Marie, so it’s rather fitting, but seriously… the girl loves Mary.
“Saint Mary Mother of God… pray for us!” – how she ends our morning prayer time as a family.
“Saint Anne and Saint Joachim… pray for me!” – what she says as she gets into bed.
“Mommy, look at me! I’m Mary! Here’s my Mary face!” – what she says to me as she has a light blue blanket draped over her head and holding a baby doll.
“Mary is a mommy so I’ll be a mommy.” – what she will say randomly while lost in thought.
“Can we pray a decade of the rosary?” – what she will request often while we are riding in the car.
“Can I give Mary a hug?” – what she asks when she walks by our Mary statue outside.
We’ve certainly endorsed Mary in our house, especially to Marie. She has a Marian name, a Mary blanket, a statue of Mary by her bed – and a Mary doll on its way to be opened on Christmas morning. We pray the Hail Mary often. I am (what feels like constantly) telling our kids to pray a Hail Mary in times they can’t fall asleep or are nervous about something. We read bible stories and have images of Mary and baby Jesus around our home. Basically, it’s not like Marie arrived at this love for Mary completely on her own. But, it is hard to deny how much Marie’s childlike faith is, in fact, her own, and how much she loves Mary simply because she’s Jesus’ mom.
To Jesus, through Mary. This is something we as Catholics know and are taught pretty early on in our faith journey. It’s often a concept others do not understand. Some believe we worship Mary, or put her on the same level as Jesus. But, we know of course, that we simply ask for Mary’s intercession. However, the power of that intercession cannot be understated. We ask Mary to take our prayers or our burdens straight to her Son. As I recently explained to my son as he couldn’t fall asleep, “Pray a Hail Mary to help you fall asleep, because then she will tell Jesus. And sons ALWAYS listen to their mommies… right?!”
I’ve always loved Mary. I, too, was once the kid being told by her mom to pray a Hail Mary before something I was nervous about. Mary is the perfect example of womanhood (“Blessed are you among women”). I find myself in awe of Mary. Usually because I know how hard I’m finding motherhood to be in whatever season we are navigating. I love being a mother, and I know I’m a pretty good one most of the time. But I often have to remind myself to look towards Mary as an example of what it means to live out a perfect faith. To trust God so much to the point of watching her Son die because it meant saving the rest of our souls. To follow God’s will so faithfully that she was assumed into Heaven. To say “yes” to God’s call even if it means being uncomfortable (i.e. giving birth in a stable – I cannot imagine.) To pray unceasingly for my children knowing full well that God has a plan for them.
On the cross, Jesus gave us His mother, a last, beautiful parting gift. She is Mother to all of us. She takes us to her Son when we ask for her intercession. She cares for us as any good mother would. Most Catholics have had a moment where they go to Mary for help. Most of us even have looked at Mary at the foot of her son’s cross and admired her and felt heartbroken for her. We’ve prayed the rosary daily, or maybe just in times of need. We know who Mary is and why we pray to her. It’s easy to look at Mary and “get it”, so why do we not run to our Mother more?
My daughter’s childlike faith and love of Mary is very simply explained: Mary is Jesus’s mommy. Mary wants to hear our prayers. Mary was faithful and gave Jesus to us. Because Mary always understood what we sometimes forget: This life is about a relationship with God who became flesh in her Son.
Let’s not forget how blessed we are that Mary did say “yes”, and that she loves us because we love her Son. A childlike faith or not, we always have Mary there to intercede for us. She’s always there to take not only our prayers, but us ourselves, to her Son.