By María Ruiz Scaperlanda

As a young child growing up on the southern shores of Puerto Rico, I attended a Catholic school named Academia Santa María. I have fond memories of that school, especially as the time in my life when I was first introduced to devotional prayers in an academic setting. It was at Santa María that I first said a Rosary with my classmates.

I remember vividly how hard it was for me as a kindergartner to sit through Mass every week, and how I became a member of a school club called "las Bernarditas," named after St. Bernadette of Lourdes, France. Since my full name (or, as I call it, my real name) is María de Lourdes — in English, literally, Mary of Lourdes — I was especially taken by the fact that so many "big" girls wanted to be in this club. I was impressed that these older girls found it important to ask Mary for her protection and intercession on behalf of each of us as "women." I still have, in a keepsake box, the small ribbon and medal of St. Bernadette that I received upon entering the club.

Mary has remained a part of my life as I’ve grown older, even if I have not always been attuned to her presence. I don’t know why or how my devotion to Mary started. It was to Mary that I cried for comfort when I was a new kid in a strange school. It somehow just seemed natural to talk to her, a mother, when it appeared that no one else could possibly understand how I felt. Years later, when I became a mother myself, I instinctively turned once again to Mary, sharing with her my fears, hopes and dreams for my own children.

These are not theological or philosophical reasons for the religious importance of Mary, but I suspect they are not an unusual starting place for a Christian developing a personal relationship with Jesus and getting to know His mother.

Our understanding of Mary is rooted in Scripture and grows out of 2,000 years of faith, devotion and theological reflection. As the mother of our Savior, Mary of Nazareth is important to Catholic families for many reasons. First of all, Mary is a key figure in the divine story of our salvation. Simply put, without Mary, there can be no Bethlehem story. Church tradition teaches that Mary was preserved from original sin in view of God calling her to be the mother of Jesus. Because of her singular role in the history of Christianity, she was gifted in grace beyond measure, and she fulfilled her role in a unique pilgrimage of faith, thus becoming the mother of the church and the spiritual mother of all people.

In the first chapter of Luke, the angel Gabriel calls Mary of Nazareth the "highly favored daughter" of God, adding, "The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women." From the beginning, early Christians found it natural for believers to honor the mother of their Lord, the woman who "found favor with God" (Lk 1:30), with special reverence. As early as the Council of Ephesus (431), the Church has addressed Mary with the title of mother of God, Theotokos ("God-bearer"). As the most holy mother of God, she was, after her Son, exalted above all angels and people. In the writings of the early Christians, we read of Mary, holy and free from sin, who gave her full heart to God and was declared "full of grace" by the angel Gabriel. Because of her unequivocal faith and surrender to God, we call Mary "blessed."

Mary is also our greatest model in faith. Because she is human, like us, Mary is one with all human beings in our need for salvation. Yet, by her unique cooperation with God’s plan of salvation, she also became for each of us a model of what it means to say yes to God in our individual lives. She was the first Christian, the first to acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of the almighty God, the Messiah for whom her Jewish people had long awaited. She was the first disciple of Jesus, the first to "hear the word of God and act upon it" (Lk 8:21).

Yet Mary was human. She was a daughter, a wife, a mother. As parents, we can relate to Mary’s human joy, her suffering and her hope. We understand how difficult it must have been to trust in God’s plan for her life. We can feel Mary’s awe as the child grew within her, and we can feel her joy at giving birth to new life. We can imagine her sense of hope as she taught Jesus and watched her baby grow into a young man.

We can also suffer the brokenness and extreme agony she felt as she watched her own Son suffer and, ultimately, held His dead body in her arms. We can relate to Mary in a personal way because she walked a very human journey.

Like a human mother advocating on behalf of her children, Mary also mediates on our behalf when we ask her to offer our humble petitions and prayers to God. Every morning, I commend my own children to Mary, asking her to lead them to her Son. I know she understands the myriad of emotions I feel each day as I watch my children grow into adulthood. And I turn to her as my model, ultimately surrendering in faith to a mysterious and often incomprehensible Divine plan: "I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38).

Undoubtedly, as the mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary holds a special and unequaled place in our faith. Yet, ultimately, it is in understanding the balance between her holiness and her humanity that Mary stops being just a theological issue and becomes someone with whom each of us is invited to have an intimate, personal relationship

Event for the Month of May

 

 

May 1 - St. Joseph the Worker
May 3 - Sts. Philip and James
May 9 - Ascension of the Lord
May 12 - Mother's Day
May 19 - Pentecost
May 26 - Holy Trinity
May 31 - Visitation of Mary

May

During May we have so much to celebrate! The entire month is dedicated in a special way to Mary, the Mother of God and the mother of all of us. Spark interest by incorporating a new Marian devotion or prayer in your homes and classrooms. One of my personal favorites is the Memorare. The second Sunday this month is set aside to honor all mothers and the Easter season concludes the following week on May 19 with the Feast of Pentecost. Though the energy of spring is likely enough to keep spirits high, Teaching Catholic Kids is excited to share these ideas for bringing fun and meaning to the days of May!

— Margaret DeMatteo and the OSV

Mary: A Catechist's Example by Mary Lou Rosien

When I ponder who the first catechist might have been, I realize that it was Our Blessed Mother, Mary. As soon as she was pregnant with our Lord, she rushed to bring Him to Elizabeth and Elizabeth's unborn son, John. She began pointing others to Christ from the moment of His conception.

Then, again at the wedding feast of Cana. The hosts run out of wine and Mary points to her son saying, "Do whatever He tells you." Out of obedience to her, Christ begins His public ministry as she points to Him as the answer to everything.

The primary job of a catechist is to lead others to Jesus; Mary gives us a blueprint for doing that well. Her example of love, humility and faith is above all other humans and if we follow her, we too shall bring others to Christ.

As a special patron to catechists, we can also look to Our Blessed Mother when our ministry seems difficult or even heart-breaking. She stood with her Son as He taught His disciples about God the Father. We can imagine that she played a large role in their instruction, by word and example. When I work with someone and they ultimately choose to leave RCIA, or they become Confirmed and then stop going to Mass, I share my disappointment with Mary. I reflect on how her heart must have broken when Judas betrayed her Son, Our Lord. How did she feel when she heard Peter deny Christ? What did it feel like to watch her Son die on the cross and know that some would never understand the sacrifice that He just made? Mary fully understands any disappointment I feel as I carry out my ministry.

So too, Mary shares my joy! When my Catechumens are baptized, when my confirmation students are confirmed and practice their faith in such a powerful way... I know Our Lady is smiling in heaven right along with me. She too can then say, "Well done, good and faithful servant of my son." I look forward to the day when I can share that joy in heaven with Our Lady and all the faithful and see the ripples that each of our ministries began.

God bless.

A Prayer for Mothers
by Heidi Busse

All-loving God,
we give you thanks and praise for mothers young and old.
We pray for young mothers who give life and count toes
and tend to our every need;
May they be blessed with patience and tenderness
to care for their families and themselves with great joy.
We pray for our own mothers
who have nurtured and cared for us;
May they continue to guide in strong and gentle ways.
We remember mothers who are separated
from their children because of war, poverty or conflict;
May they feel the loving embrace of our God who wipes every tear away.
We pray for women who are not mothers but still love and shape us with motherly care and compassion.
We remember mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers
who are no longer with us but who live forever in our memory and nourish us with their love.
Amen.

Mother’s Day Prayer

On this Mother’s Day, we thank you, dear Lord, for the mothers in our lives.
We are grateful for and treasure all of the women in our lives that love us and care for us.
Not only do we remember our mothers, but our grandmothers, godmothers, aunts and sisters and friends.
In the name of your Holy Mother Mary, we pray.

Amen.

Prayer 

On this Mother's Day, we thank you, dear Lord, for the mothers in our lives.
We are grateful for and treasure all of the women in our lives that love us and care for us.
Not only do we remember our mothers, but our grandmothers, godmothers, aunts and sisters and friends. In the name of your Holy Mother Mary, we pray.

Amen.

Daily Wisdom

The fear of the LORD adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short. —

Proverbs 10:27 (NIV)

 
Daily Meditation by
2013 
Don Schwager


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