Mary, Our Model

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.” Sometimes the answer is “Not now!” 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! Mothers’ and fathers’ prayers for their children are powerful.

As we celebrate Mother’s Day next 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 girls and women around the world who are not treated with the respect that is their due. Let us pray that every girl in every country will be not only allowed but also encouraged to get an education.

As we continue the Month of Mary, let us remember how important our devotion to Mary is in our faith life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly describes the ways by which we should honor our Heavenly Mother:

“All generations will call me blessed”: “The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.” The Church rightly honors “the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From ancient times the Blessed Virgin is honored with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs… This very special devotion… differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration.” The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an “epitome of the whole Gospel,” express this devotion to the Virgin Mary. (#971)

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms! Happy month of Mary!

Mission Statement: As children of God, living in a Catholic community of faith, we are united by the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Aware that all we have is gift and grace from our Heavenly Father, we strive to give of our time, talent and treasure to build His kingdom on earth. We live this mission, challenged by the Word, nurtured by the Sacraments, and enlivened by the Spirit, to serve our brothers and sisters in peace, justice and dignity. All are welcome on this journey.

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