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FAITH AND CULTURE | Mary, our mother and teacher

In a world saturated with information, it’s often difficult to discern what is most advantageous for our lives and what should be removed. This is made even more challenging by easy access to volumes of information at our fingertips. Digital technologies allow us to communicate, disseminate and acquire information at unprecedented speed.

Adding to the density of information is the complex reality that even organized information and knowledge doesn’t stand alone, but needs support. Established institutions that organize and transmit knowledge are themselves being challenged by technological and social progress that is now commonplace.

Without dismissing the value of digital and technological informational culture, with all its benefits, it’s important to recognize that our learning and knowledge still requires the attention of educators, mentors and teachers who provide balance and guidance in our learning and growing. In personal and communal dimensions of life, we see how the loving guidance of a friend, teacher, role model or mentor brings long-lasting positive effects.

The same holds true when we reflect on our faith lives. Religious experience shows the significance of having trusted spiritual guides and teachers. In our faith journey, we have been accompanied by trusted people who provide us with helpful spiritual insights and witness to us virtuous living. These trusted individuals are often parish priests, religious sisters or lay parishioners whose Gospel joy is particularly compelling and attractive.

As Catholics, we have also grown up commemorating distinct spiritual feast days, memorials, and celebrating different religious holidays. Part of our Catholic upbringing includes rich traditions and devotions to holy men and women — saints — who serve as role models and guide us in our spiritual life. Many of us have close connections to saints whose lives of heroic virtue exemplify for us what it means to be a follower of Christ, and who inspire us to be holy.

While each of us have our personal devotions to particular saints, as Catholics, Mary always has a special place in our hearts. Over two millennia, Mary has been a mother and teacher to many, especially in hours of need. Throughout the centuries, individually and collectively, we have sought Mary’s consolation and wisdom. In her, we have seen the grace of God manifested — for us, she is Mary, full of grace.

In a world that often seems in need of consolation, guidance and wisdom, it seems fitting for us to remember and lift high our loving devotion to Mary. In particular to grow closer to her as our loving “Mother and Teacher.” I suspect that the closer we come to her, the more she will show us the way of wisdom. The story of the Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-23) illustrates Mary’s wisdom and care. In the story, we encounter her motherly care and her clear and profound wisdom: To those gathered who were troubled and in need of guidance and direction, she says, “Do whatever He tells you.”

In addition, Pope Francis, in the apostolic exhortation, “Gaudete et Exsultate,” encourages us to seek and trust Mary’s guidance: “Mary our Mother does not need a flood of words. She does not need us to tell her what is happening in our lives. All we need do is whisper, time and time again: ‘Hail Mary…’” Confidently, then, we whisper and pray to our mother and teacher.

Orozco is executive director for human dignity and intercultural affairs for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

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