“De Maria, numquam satis!” St. Bernard of Clairvaux was deeply devoted to our Blessed Mother, and his great exclamation continues to echo through the life of the Church: “Concerning Mary, you can never say enough!” A central theme of his preaching is that no matter how much we seek to honor Mary, we will never honor her more than God did when He chose her as His mother. How, then, do we best honor Mary?
One of Mary’s titles is “Mater Gratiae,” the Mother of Grace. Just as she physically conceived Jesus in her womb and nurtured His life as a child, so too she nurtures the life of Jesus in the souls of her spiritual sons and daughters. We honor Mary most perfectly when we ask her to form within us the “full stature of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). Mary’s greatest delight is to see her Son more deeply loved by her other children.
Here are a few worthy practices to honor Jesus through Mary.
The Rosary is the preeminent way we honor Mary. In the mysteries of the Rosary, we view the most significant events in the life of Jesus from Mary’s perspective. As she teaches us to look upon Jesus with deep reverence and devotion, we learn to love Jesus by imitating her example.
A practice I learned from Father Emile Neubert’s book, “Life of Union with Mary” is “consulting with Mary” before making decisions. When a young boy is debating about taking a particular action, if he glances at his mom, he intuitively knows the right thing to do. A mother’s presence influences children to choose a good course of action. So when you are making a decision, big or small, take a moment of quiet prayer to examine the decision with Mary, and often clarity will come.
Ask Mary for gifts
And what mom does not love giving her children gifts that will make them into better people? Ask Mary to obtain for you the gifts that you need to grow closer to Jesus. This can be a very simple prayer: “Mary, give me the grace to be patient with my co-worker. Give me the grace to understand why the Church teaches X. Give me the grace of appreciating more deeply the fact that Jesus died for me.” If you have an open heart, you will not need to wait long for her answer.
These practices honor Mary because they give her permission to fulfill her role as our spiritual mother. Every morning she repeats to us those words she spoke to St. Juan Diego years ago, “Am I not here, who am your mother?” Let her be a mother to you, and she, with Jesus, will be greatly honored!
Father Charlie Archer is associate pastor of St. Peter Parish in Kirkwood.