Embracing Mary’s maternal tenderness

By  Carine Lee, Youth Speak News
  • December 21, 2007

{mosimage}VANCOUVER - When Celine Leigh consecrated herself to Jesus through Mary two years ago, she found herself part of a union of Roman Catholics who share in the spiritual graces through Mary’s intercession and provision.

“I was looking for more guidance in my prayer life,” said the 18-year-old.

For generations, the papacy has encouraged the act of consecration according to St. Louis de Montfort (1673-1716). Pope John Paul II said in an address to the De Montfort Fathers that reading the French priest’s book True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin was “a decisive turning point in my life.”

The saint’s Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary is a gift of self and daily undertakings to Jesus through Mary’s motherly intercession. A 33-day preparation guide, available from Friends of Our Lady Apostolate (www.ourlady33.com), contains prayers and readings for reflection. The guide explains the virtues of Mary and demonstrates how to integrate them in daily life. Throughout the preparation, devotees are also encouraged to pray the rosary each day.

Leigh continues to renew her yearly consecration.

“I became more aware of my unworthiness and the daily reflections helped me see how I can be more Christ-like. Saying the rosary after reading the reflections provided a time for me to think about my life and how I can be a better disciple,” said Leigh.

Catholics venerate Jesus’ mother and flock to her apparition sites to honour her and confide their lives to her. 

“It was through the Blessed Virgin Mary that Jesus came into the world, and it is also through her that He must reign in the world,” wrote St. Louis de Montfort. It is through Mary’s intercession that prayer intentions are purified and presented to Jesus by her immaculate hands, he said.

“Mary places herself between her Son and mankind in the reality of their wants, needs and sufferings,” said the late Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Redemptoris Mater.

Through Mary’s intercession, non-believers like Leslie Law have come to believe in Christ. The 14-year-old was baptized last Easter after his family experienced Jesus through the intercession of Mary.

“When my father was diagnosed with cancer two years ago, a family friend taught us the rosary and prayed with us before my father’s post-chemotherapy test,” said Law.

“We asked Mother Mary to plead with Jesus that my father’s condition would improve and he did.”

The rosary is a repetitive prayer that allows for meditation on the lives of Jesus and Mary through the Gospel mysteries. Each of the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous Mysteries breaks down five different events of Jesus the Redeemer. Individually, youth are understanding Mary’s role in the church and embrace the rosary in her honour.

“I pray the rosary to honour and contemplate the mother of our church,” said 20-year-old Jason Fielding-Tweedie.

 “I like the rosary because I am able to give honour to Mother Mary,” said Dia Lopez, 22. “I was told that one Hail Mary prayed is one rose offered to Mother Mary, so a whole rosary is a bouquet of roses offered.”

The rosary, according to St. Louis de Montfort, is a crown of heavenly roses we place on the heads of Jesus and Mary.

 “The rose is the queen of flowers, and so the rosary is the rose of all devotions and it is therefore the most important one,” he wrote in The Secret of the Rosary.

Pope John Paul II highly recommended the family rosary for the spiritual protection and grace it provides.

“The rosary should be considered as one of the best and most efficacious prayers in common that the Christian family is invited to recite,” said the late pope in his 1981 apostolic exhortation Familaris Consortio.  

Hazelle Santa Cruz, 20, agreed. “We feel her maternal blanket draped on our shoulders for comfort and protection. When my mother was informed of suspicious cells in her system, I suggested to my parents that we say a rosary that night.”

The comfort and protection Mary offered throughout difficult times inspire the Santa Cruz family to say the rosary every day.

St. Louis de Montfort promises the enrichment of graces and merits among the many benefits of saying the rosary.

“After my mom passed away two years ago, I learned to turn to Mother Mary about the kind of things I would talk to my mom about and I just know she is listening and finding a way to help me through my troubles,” said Lopez. “In a way, I have two mothers in heaven interceding for me.”

“The rosary always manages to grant unique solace to me during my day, particularly when I’m worried or frustrated,” said Fielding-Tweedie. “When I meditate upon the mysteries of the rosary, the Holy Spirit finds a way to help me with whatever I have to face in my daily life, no matter what it is.”

“It is exciting to know that when we say the Rosary, the Blessed Mother comes and prays with us,” said Santa Cruz.

An embodiment of heavenly virtues, many youth look to Mary as the model of Christ-centred life.

“It isn’t easy being a young Catholic in this secular world. I started reading about Mother Mary and try to emulate how I can be a woman for God,” said Leigh.

“I strive to live the kind of life she did, even if I could only be just a fraction of the kind of woman she was on Earth,” Lopez added.

“A lot of people struggle with purity and she exemplifies purity,” said Fielding-Tweedie. “She is the best example of submission to God’s will and the devotion and humility that God asks of us. She embodied a kind of maternal tenderness and love that was fit enough to bear and raise our Lord.”

(Lee, 21, is a communications student at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C.)

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