The first memories I have of asking for Mary’s intercession were when my family would gather at my grandmother’s house to pray for my grandfather, whose health had begun to decline. We all sat in the living room once a week and took turns leading a decade of the rosary. I was ten years old, and so praying the same thing week after week felt monotonous. For a time after my grandfather passed away, my dad would encourage our family to say a nightly rosary, and for a while we did. But I slowly drifted away from it, again feeling that it was too monotonous. I would still say Hail Mary’s as a standard “go to” prayer throughout high school and the first couple of years of university, but rarely did I meditate on the life of Mary in relation to her Son. I did not have a personal relationship with her. I did not really see her as the example par excellence, and I definitely did not see her as my Mother.
For whatever reason though, I decided that for Lent 2010, part of my observance would be to pray a daily rosary. What began as a chore slowly turned into something beautiful. I noticed a change in myself – in the weeks to come during that Lent, I noticed that I had more patience, more peace, and more joy in accepting what God’s will was for me. I began to say a rosary every day, and I am happy to say that since Lent 2010, more often than not, I have done so.
Like Joe, the first guy to write for this Brosary blog series, I went to Medjugorje, a place of intense Marian devotion, in 2011. And I had to accept many difficulties (however minor) on that trip. Three days in, I lost my glasses. My allergies kept flaring up. The heat was extreme, and throughout our stay there, we prayed WAY more than what I was used to – mass, two rosaries, Eucharistic Adoration and more, were all part of the annual youth festival. And yet, I loved it. The week of Marian devotion and being surrounded by those who loved Our Lady was incredible. And all the while, I felt myself growing closer to God. It was a step further than the daily rosary that I had been doing. “Well, that’s interesting,” I thought. “Having a greater devotion to Mary has only given me a greater focus on the Lord.” Ah. But here’s the reason why that makes complete sense – Mary kinda explains the creaturely meaning of the universe:
God is fulfilled and complete in himself; he needn’t have created anything at all. And yet he did. He created ex nihilo (out of nothing) the entire universe. We, being part of the created universe, were created gratuitously, and out of God’s love and goodness. When God created us, He gave us to ourselves. In other words, our very being is gift. Now, a gift, by its nature, can be refused. But we weren’t able to refuse our existence! So…wait…what?
In one sense (in ‘First Act’), it’s true – we did not have a choice in existing. God willed us, and we happened. What this has to mean then, is that it is part of our very being to be receptive. To go against receptivity would be to go against what we are. And while in first act, we can’t reject the gift of our being, in Second Act, we can reject it – for our being is a continual gift from God. Throughout our lives, we can either accept what God gives us, or we can reject it. Throughout our lives, we can accept ourselves and continually grow to become who we are, or we can reject ourselves.
But just as our acceptance of what we are is not a single moment, Mary’s fiat to the Holy Spirit was not a one-time deal either. In relation to her Son, Mary did not finish saying “yes” until the Cross; Her Annunciation was just the beginning of a lifetime of saying yes to what God had given her. Throughout her life, Mary continually accepted Christ into herself. And this is when I realized that through experiences like Medjugorje, I had begun to form a personal relationship with Mary. Of course, I knew that Mary intercedes for us in Heaven, purifying our petitions and bringing them before her Son. But by meditating upon the mysteries of the Rosary, I saw that Mary does much more than simply intercede for us from afar. While I had only recently begun to be aware of her, Mary had always been aware of me. As the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, she has gone before me, and yet she walks with me, always encouraging me to fully accept Christ. She never points me toward herself, but to Christ. And she does this not only as an exemplar, not only as a saint, but also – and most importantly – as my Mother.
Mary always said yes to God. She did “whatever he told her.” At the Cross, while Mary had to give up Jesus in a sense, she received Him in a new way: Eucharistically, through the Apostle John. She again said yes to Christ, and accepted what he wanted to give her – the Church. Mary received all of us as her children at the Cross, and if I want to be true to who and what I am, I have to be open to receiving Mary as my Mother too. By reflecting on these amazing truths through the rosary, I have grown to always run to Mary in times of need, to allow her to care for me, to nurture me, and to comfort me, precisely by bringing me closer to that which alone can heal me – her Son.
Since Lent 2010, since Medjugorje 2011, and since starting my studies at the JP II Institute, my relationship with the our Blessed Mother has grown beautifully and joyfully, and has become so much more than saying rosaries to merely ask for her intercession. Now, I also meditate on the mysteries to simply be with her, knowing that by simply being in her company, I will come to know her more, which will in turn allow me to know God more. I encourage you to spend time every day talking to Mama (as I affectionately call her) through the Rosary. Pondering all of the mysteries in your heart will open you up to receiving the graces that God so achingly wants to give you.
Remember: the Church is Marian before it is Petrine. The Church is Mary before it is Peter. As a member of the Church, allow Mary to love you, because in loving you, she will want what is best for you – to grow closer to her Son. So let her do this! All you have to do is receive.