I have narrowly focused a series of reflections on the Virgin Mary. Over the years I have experienced various devotions to our Lady and have read countless books. Honestly, there is a great deal of divergence in how people approach Mary. In particular, I have shared a priest’s personal faith and relationship with our Blessed Mother. Given this emphasis, I must apologize if it seems that I skirt many possible connections to the lives of the single and married laity. But I am a celibate priest under holy obedience and these are the terms that define my life and posture before God. Nevertheless, I hope that readers might find value in a few points and generalities that reflect the truth and our human condition.
One of my thoughts was to offer this collection of reflections as a catalyst to jump-start similar ruminations from parishioners and others. Single people might ponder Mary’s possible early service to the Temple and her race to assist her cousin Elizabeth. Mary used her freedom and strength in service to God and others. Do we? Married couples might reflect upon both their fecundity and their passion as beloved persons of immeasurable worth. Mary conceived Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, literally Love Personified. Joseph was the great protector of the Holy Family but Mary was the heart of his home. Men and women love each other in the marital act and that love can result in offspring. Do they appreciate this awesome power and cooperation with God? Do married couples cherish one other? Do they place the needs of the beloved before their own desires? Do they see their children as miracles of God where we recognize the face of Christ? Do they appreciate that every life is a child of promise and is holy? As a celibate priest I can ask the questions, but I would leave it to our laity to help provide their personal answers. We belong to a corporate religion established by the Lord; but every believer must be disposed to divine grace in accepting a personal relationship of faith with Jesus Christ and of love with the Blessed Virgin Mary.
I have mentioned previously that the late Pope John Paul II lost his mother early in life and he sought to fill this emptiness with devotion to the Virgin Mary. She meant everything to him and he dedicated his priesthood to her. His apostolic motto (to Mary) was TOTUS TUUS, Latin for TOTALLY YOURS. He admits that he borrowed it after reading and re-reading True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort. “Totus tuus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt. Accipio te in mea omnia. Praebe mihi cor tuum, Maria.” Translated: “I belong entirely to you, and all that I have is yours. I take you for my all. O Mary, give me your heart.” Ascribed to the late Pope John Paul II but also recited as a novena prayer to the Immaculata (under St. Maximilian Kolbe), we have the following prayer:
Immaculate Conception, Mary, my Mother.
Live in me. Act in me. Speak in and through me.
Think your thoughts in my mind. Love, through my heart.
Give me your dispositions and feelings.
Teach, lead and guide me to Jesus.
Correct, enlighten and expand my thoughts and behavior.
Possess my soul. Take over my entire personality and life.
Replace it with yourself.
Incline me to constant adoration and thanksgiving.
Pray in me and through me.
Let me live in you and keep me in this union always.
As sinners, we constantly ask for her intercession, praying in the Hail Mary for her intervention and help, “now and at the hour of our death.” She knows her own, and more importantly, can identify her children who love her and Jesus. She invites us into the life of her Son, indeed to share the life and love of the Trinity, itself.