As we are in the month of May, our thoughts inevitably focus on our Blessed Mother. While He was about to leave this world, the Master gave Mary to us as His parting gift. She is not only our mother and patroness; she is also our model. She can teach us how we can live the Gospel and conform ourselves to the image of Christ. In particular, she can help us become men and women of prayer. In this column, I would like to propose Mary as the model of one type of prayer.
In our prayer we often ask God for things. This type of prayer is known as petition or intercession. Mary offers us a great example in this regard. She is also a great model of prayer of praise and prayer of lament. In this column, however, I would like to discuss how Mary shows us the way to ask God for things.
It is significant to note that immediately after the annunciation, Mary rushes to the hill country of Judea to assist her cousin Elizabeth in her hour of need. Filled with God who had made His dwelling in her, she goes out to encounter the God who had visited her needy relative. Such sympathetic concern characterized Mary all her life. Aware that she could not solve all problems, she brought everything to God in prayer. Her prayer of petition then was an outflow of her consuming compassion for others.
We notice Mary engage in such a prayer of petition at the marriage feast of Cana (John 2: 1-11). She realizes that the wine is running short and that the newly-wed couple is about to be terribly embarrassed. Admitting her own inability to tackle the situation, she turns to her Son with confidence: “Son, they have no wine.” When Jesus tries to put her off by protesting that His hour had not yet come, she does not give up. It is likely that she cajoled her Son and pleaded with Him. At the end, she instructs the servants: “Do whatever He tells you.” Confident that He will solve the problem, she just walks away.
It is important to note that Mary does not pray for herself. She stands before God on behalf of others. In this she is so similar to the men and women of the Bible who interceded for others. We can see Moses pleading with God that He should turn His just wrath away from His people. We can picture Abraham bargaining with God so that Sodom and Gomorrah may be spared. We can imagine Jeremiah and Isaiah praying for the chosen people. Mary continues to pray for her children. Every one of her apparitions is an eloquent testimony to her continuing solicitude for the Pilgrim Church.
Mary teaches us that it is perfectly acceptable to ask God for things. If God is our Father, He has concern for our needs, both spiritual and material. While we ask for our daily bread, we can pray for a little butter too. And if we are on a diet, we can ask for a touch of “I can’t believe it is not butter!” In our prayer of petition we should bear in mind that God always listens to our prayers. Sometimes His answer is “No.” We must take care not to limit our petitions just for ourselves; we need to pray for others.
We should pray for spiritual gifts rather than for material ones. If a couple finds that their marriage is floundering, they should face their problems in God’s presence. If parents are concerned about an errant son or daughter, they should carry that individual to God in prayer. We must remember that Monica wept bitter tears and prayed numerous prayers for twenty years for the conversion of her son, Augustine. And what a saint he became!
As we celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend, let us whisper a loving prayer for our moms whether they are here with us or are looking down on us lovingly from heaven. Let us offer a prayer for all young women and girls that they will desire to be great moms some day. What a sublime privilege to be a mother – to cooperate in God’s own act of giving life! Let us pray for the 200 young girls who were abducted in Nigeria by the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram. Let us pray that every girl in every country will be not only allowed but also encouraged to get an education.
Happy Mother’s Day to all moms! Happy month of Mary!
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...