Mary as Model of #Discernment, Vocation & Mission

The devotion to Mary, Queen of the Apostles, is one of the oldest devotions to Mary in the Church. One of our sisters recently let me know about a youtube video of the song, Queen of Apostles, composed and sung by Nancy Krebs, which beautifully offers reflections and prayers about two key events in Mary’s life associated with this particular title of Mary.

A key in discerning and living our vocation is devotion to Mary. Devotion to Mary as our Queen of Apostles is more than asking Mary to help us discover and carry out the mission God has entrusted to us. It also means entrusting ourselves and our spiritual journey to her. It means imitating Mary in how she shared her Son with the world, taking on her attitudes of humility, of receptivity to God (especially her docility to the Holy Spirit),  her obedience to God’s Word, and her union with her Son in his mission. If we entrust every effort that we make and everyone whom we seek to serve to Mary’s motherly care, all our efforts will be blessed.

Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouve, on her blog Thomas for Today, posted an introductory reflection on this ancient devotion: Mary and the Holy Spirit.

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Discerning with Mary, the Mother of Jesus

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In Genesis, when God specifically promises to redeem humanity by sending the Savior, he speaks of Mary as “the woman” who is Satan’s enemy and whose Son will overcome the devil definitively. When we cultivate a relationship with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, we draw close not just to Mary but to Jesus. As our Mother, Mary wants us to be united to her Son, and she will clear the way of obstacles for us, most especially the devil’s temptations.

Many saints speak eloquently about Mary’s power over Satan and her ability to lead us to Christ. This is an excerpt from one of my favorite prayers to Mary by Blessed James Alberione:

“O Mary, grant that we may listen to, follow and love Jesus Christ the Divine Master! May sin never stain our souls consecrated to you. Immaculate Virgin, crush the head of that insidious demon of discouragement.

Live in our midst, Mary; blessed are they who dwell in your house.”
– Blessed James Alberione

In his beautiful apostolic letter On the Most Holy Rosary, Pope St. John Paul speaks about our entering into the “school” of Mary because “No one has ever devoted himself to the contemplation of the face of Christ as faithfully as Mary. The eyes of her heart already turned to him at the Annunciation, when she conceived him by the power of the Holy Spirit…. Mary lived with her eyes fixed on Christ, treasuring his every word” (On the Most Holy Rosary, nos. 10 & 11).

Mary is both a wonderful model for our discernment and a powerful intercessor so that we can receive the light of the Holy Spirit in order to “see” or contemplate Christ’s presence in our lives. Mary is not just the Mother of Jesus, but our Mother, too, and her greatest desire is to lead all of her children to her Son. Praying to Mary regularly is life-changing.

Countless Marian prayers and traditions can help us to grow in our relationship with the Blessed Mother. The Rosary is especially fruitful as a prayer to help us grow in a spirit of discernment because when we contemplate Jesus by praying the Rosary, we do so with Mary, the first and truest disciple of Jesus who most closely sought and lived the will of God. When we pray the Rosary, we meditate with Mary on Jesus’ life: how Jesus lived the will of his Father while on earth. We can also meditate on how Mary recognized and responded to God’s invitations in a spirit of faith and obedience. The subjects for meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary are endless.

The saints are eloquent about how devotion to Mary changes our lives. If you are looking for more resources on growing in your relationship with Mary, here is a short list of new titles that introduce devotion to Mary and the Rosary, and a few of the classic books on Mary that foster devotion to her.

Mary: the Freest Woman Who Ever Lived

06P pixabay 2As we continue our discernment journey, striving for the freedom to see, understand, and live God’s Story for us, we find both helps and obstacles along the way. Many of the helps which can guide us we have already looked at: praying—especially with the Word of God, self-knowledge, the examen, our friends, a spiritual director, other mentors, the community, the Church, the circumstances of our daily life. The obstacles may be unexpected, especially because if we seek God’s will, God should clear the path for us, right? Unfortunately, doing God’s will has nothing to do with how easy or hard something is, nor how many obstacles we face.

Because of original sin, our own tendency towards sin, and our personal history of sin, none of us live the full potential of God’s Story for us. Original sin has “messed up” not just us individually but God’s creation. Yet, original sin has not changed God’s desires or ultimate plan for us, not has it taken away our freedom.

The consequences of sin in our lives make it harder for us not only to see God’s viewpoint, but also to live our stories in all their fullness and beauty. But they don’t change our call, nor our potential. Getting to know the obstacles in our discernment—obstacles to listening, to freedom, to responding generously to God’s call—is helpful for facing them, especially when they are unexpected.

virgin-335500_1280One guide to freedom is Mary, the Mother of Jesus. The saints remind us frequently that devotion to Mary is the surest and quickest way to grow in our following of Christ, in seeking and doing God’s will. Perhaps this is because Mary, whom we as Catholics believe was preserved free from all sin, is the freest human being who ever lived! She was free enough to receive the angel Gabriel’s impossible announcement and then to give an impossible yes—a yes which she must have known would lead her not just to tremendous joy, but also to great suffering as the Mother of the Suffering Servant.

Mary was not stifled by selfishness, pride, or any other of sin’s enslavements. She who listened to and lived the Word of God most freely and attentively in her life is eager to help us to draw closer in freedom to her Son.

To Pray With

Pray a decade of the Rosary, asking Mary for the grace to be free enough to listen to and respond to Jesus’ invitations in all the events of your daily life. (If you aren’t familiar with praying the Rosary, you can find an easy “how to” here: http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/rosaries/how-to-pray-the-rosary.cfm) I highly encourage you to consider praying the Rosary—which is a wonderful way of praying with Scripture and the mysteries of the lives of Jesus and Mary— and making it a frequent part of your prayer routine.

Day 4 Novena to Mary, Queen of Apostles

queenblPrayer for Day 4 of the Novena

O Mary,
Mother of Jesus, Way, Truth, and Life,
intercede for us,
so that heaven may be filled
with those who sing the hymn of glory
to the Most Holy Trinity.
Amen.

                                                                        – Blessed James Alberione

Let us unite in prayer for the discernments of all who are reading the blog, and especially those who asked for prayers for their intentions and discernments in a particular way: IW, MR, JC, BS, AC, CC, S

Day 3 Praying Novena to Mary Queen of Apostles

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Prayer for Day 3 of Novena to Mary, Queen of Apostles 

Immaculate Mary, Co-Redemptrix of the human race, look upon humanity redeemed by the blood of your divine Son, yet still immersed in the darkness of error and confusion. 

The harvest is always great, but the laborers are still very few. Have pity, O Mary upon your children whom the dying Jesus entrusted to you from the cross. Increase religious and priestly vocations; give us new apostles full of wisdom and fervor.

Sustain with your maternal care those who consecrate their lives to the good of their neighbor. Recall your care for Jesus and the apostle John; remember your consoling presence on the day of Pentecost. You were the counselor of the first apostles and of the apostles of all times. By your invincible intercession,  obtain a new Pentecost for all those called to the apostolate, that it may sanctify them and inflame them with holy zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of humanity. Guide them in all their efforts; help them with your graces; sustain them in moments of discouragement; crown their zeal with great success.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            – from Prayers of the Pauline Family