Mary, Our Mother

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAMA MARY!!!!!!

So today is Mary’s birthday. I usually call her Mom, which can be kind of confusing to people at times, but that’s who she is! My Mom! She is the love of my life and on the occasion of her birthday, I would just like to talk a little bit about her and what she has done for me, in the hopes that you will come to love her a little bit more. This is my journey of how I came to know Mama Mary as my loving Mom.

As many know, I love Mom a whole lot. It’s not much of a secret to those who spend even a little time with me. But the thing is, I didn’t always have this devotion to her. In fact, I didn’t understand for a while what all the “hype” about Mary in the Catholic Church was.

So one day I asked her to show me.

It was my freshman year of high school and I chose Mary as my confirmation saint. I didn’t really know much at the time, but I see now that it was really Mary who chose me. I read different saint stories, but I couldn’t see how any of the saints could top the Blessed Virgin. So me being me and wanting the best, of course chose the best and most perfect saint there is!

The summer after my senior year of high school, I was blessed with the opportunity to attend World Youth Day in Madrid. But if that wasn’t good enough, our first week of the trip was going to be spent in Fatima and Lourdes! As I prepared to leave for the trip, I realized that I still didn’t really get the Marian devotion thing. I didn’t get why people from all over the world travel to these Marian apparition sites, why she has such a big place in our Church… I knew in my head how she was the Mother of God and our Mother and I knew she was special, but it just didn’t reach my heart. I was missing something.

And so as I left for that trip, I simply asked Mary to show me. It was a simple petition for such a big trip, but exactly what it was supposed to be. Little did I know, but that pilgrimage was only the beginning.

Going to Fatima and Lourdes was truly beautiful. So many things struck me during my time there, but one thing really stands out to me as I look back. I was struck by how people came from all over the world just to come and be with Mama Mary in these two spots. As I saw them do the pilgrimage walk on their knees, pray the Rosary in every language, and process with candles around the shrines, the beauty was impossible to miss. You could see on the faces of all the people in prayer the love of Mary and the love that they in turn had for their Mother. It was so very real and so very powerful. I had never seen Marian devotion in that way, a way of pure love. To me it was a repetitive set of prayers that you’re supposed to say, not an exchange of love between Mother and child. However that exchange of love is exactly what I saw on the faces of those pilgrims.

Fast forward to my first semester of freshman year at Franciscan University. As is typical of freshman year of college, I had a night where I was feeling a little bit homesick. I don’t remember what brought me there, but for some reason I decided to go sit in my dorm’s chapel and ask the Lord to help me. As I told Him I was lonely, I realized in that moment that I really needed a mother. As this thought crossed my mind, I looked up and saw the large image of Our Lady of Guadalupe that we have in our chapel. It hit me – I didn’t have to be lonely any longer, for my Mother was truly right there with me.

Second semester of freshman year, I started looking for a household to join. As I took the decision to prayer, the Lord showed me that Mama Mary needed to be the central aspect. Rosa Mystica – after Mary the Mystical Rose – was one I just couldn’t pass up. I was drawn by the fragrance and beauty of “the choice delicate perfect flower of God’s spiritual creation.” Mary is the epitome of beauty and it is that beauty that continues to draw my heart to hers, which ultimately leads us to the Heart of our Lord.

Mom has used my being a part of Rosa Mystica household to continue to draw me closer to her Son. I can’t really put words to it, but in this household I have encountered beauty upon beauty. I see it in the witness of my household sisters, our covenant, the sisterhood we share… Time and time again I am drawn to the beauty of Our Lady. Oftentimes it brings me to tears because beauty in its truest form touches the heart deeply. But there is no other response to an encounter with true beauty, besides love. And who is Love? Our Lord. Our Lady draws us through her beauty, but it is only to bring us into the Love that is her Son.

I have been a teacher for a program called Totus Tuus for the past two summers, and there is really something to that hard to pronounce Latin phrase. Totus Tuus Maria means “totally yours, Mary.” What this is saying is that I am giving my entire self over to Mary so that she will in turn bring me to her Son. This was our goal during the Totus Tuus program, to bring the children to Jesus through His Mother, and it should be the goal of every one of us. Jesus came to us through His Mother, Mary, and in turn we come to Jesus in that same way. Through Mama Mary!

This is just a little bit of the journey that I have had in coming to know and love the Blessed Virgin Mary as my own Mother. The more beauty and love she shows me, the more love I have for Jesus and Mary.

The journey is nowhere near over, but one thing is sure. When we draw near to Our Lady – for whatever the reason – we encounter our Mother, we encounter beauty, and most importantly we encounter the only One who can satisfy our souls – our Lord Jesus Christ.

Totus Tuus Maria! :)

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