Welcome to the 7th and final week of our online retreat focusing on the spirituality of the catechist. Last week, we looked at the characteristic of missionary zeal. Thanks so much for all of your wonderful and inspiring comments! This week, we focus on the 6th aspect of our spirituality: devotion to Mary.
If you’re just joining us, you can go back and “catch up” and then come back to jump in to week seven.
Here’s the video intro for this week:
Devotion to Mary
In the May/June issue of Catechetical Leader Magazine, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino talks about how Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is often depicted by artists as holding up the child Jesus “for him to bless the world, to bless us.”
He goes on to say, “Just as Mary was resolved to make God present in the world through her faith and obedience, as catechists, we are called to make God present to the world. We need to resolve to present Jesus, the Lord, to the world.”
That, in a nutshell, is why we catechists are called to have a devotion to Mary. We can imitate her in so many ways:
- When we were asked to be a catechist, our reaction was probably similar to Mary’s: “How can this be?” Like Mary, we may not consider ourselves worthy of such a calling. This humility is healthy. God does not call the qualified but qualifies the called. We can continually strive to say “Yes” to God’s call to embody his Son Jesus and to bring him to others. And we do so with the humility that Mary showed: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word.”
- As soon as Mary found out about her calling to be the Mother of Jesus, she moved into action. In Luke 1:38, the angel departs from her. In the very next verse, she sets out to visit her cousin Elizabeth! We can imitate Mary by eagerly moving into action (missionary zeal!), bringing the Good News of Jesus to others and stirring the life that is within them as Mary’s greeting stirred the baby in Elizabeth’s womb.
- Several times in Scripture, we hear that Mary “ponders” things in her heart. She does so after the shepherds visited (Luke 2:19). She does so again in Luke 2:51 after finding the child Jesus in the Temple. No doubt, Mary pondered many experiences in her heart throughout her life. We can imitate Mary by being contemplative in this same manner. When events happen in our lives, we can ponder them in our heart – reviewing them to more readily recognize the hand of God in our everyday lives. We can then teach our students to do the same.
- At the Wedding Feast at Cana, Mary plays a significant role in cooperating with the revelation of Jesus’ divinity. Traditionally, Christians have described the visit of the Magi, Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, and the wedding feast at Cana as a three-fold “epiphany” or revealing. Mary is intimately involved in 2 of these 3 events. In the Wedding Feast at Cana, Mary prods Jesus to come to the aid of the hosts who have run out of wine. She utters the last words recorded in Scripture that are attributed to her: “Do whatever he tells you.” (Jn 2:5) We can imitate Mary by making sure that our catechesis is always an “epiphany” – a revealing of Jesus’ true identity. We can also imitate Mary by telling those we teach to “do whatever he tells you.”
- Mary is found at the foot of the Cross at the moment of her son’s death. She is part of what is known as the “Little Company of Mary” – the small band of faithful disciples who stood at the foot of the Cross throughout Jesus’ suffering and death. We can imitate Mary by being present to the suffering that is taking place in the lives of those we teach and in the community around us.
- The Acts of the Apostles (1:14) tells us that the early Christian community gathered united around Mary. In Acts 2:1, we hear that “when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.” Christian tradition, therefore, places Mary at the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Mary paid close attention to the promptings of the Holy Spirit throughout her life and it makes perfect sense that on the day of Pentecost, she, with all the disciples of Jesus, was filled with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in order to go forth and proclaim the Good News. We can imitate Mary by being Spirit-filled – by praying for the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit so that we may effectively proclaim the Good News.
- Finally, we can look to Mary’s Assumption as a sign of hope. When Mary’s time on earth was completed, she was assumed body and soul into heaven – a precurser, so to speak, of the Resurrection of the Body that all of us look forward to. Our ministry, as catechists, is grounded in hope. Mary’s Assumption is a sign of hope – a confident waiting for that day when we shall see God face to face, united body and soul, for all eternity
Mary is, indeed, a “living catechism”, “mother and model of catechists.”
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Week Seven Reflection Questions (click here for week-7-reflection-questions ) – over the next few days, feel free to ponder these reflection questions pertaining to this week’s theme. Then, return here to Catechist’s Journey and share some of your reflections with your fellow retreatants.
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For Further Reflection
Read Pope Benedict XVI’s homily on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15, 2006.
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Spiritual Exercises - During the course of this week, practice one or more of the following spiritual exercises designed to deepen your devotion to Mary. Feel free to share the fruits of your exercises with your fellow retreatants by posting your comments any time this week.
- Take to heart (memorize) the words of Mary’s Magnificat (the Canticle of Mary) found in Luke 1:46-55. Learn 2 verses each day, and, at various times throughout the day, pray the verses that you have taken to heart, until, by the end of the week, you are able to recall this beautiful prayer by heart.
- Pray the Rosary each day this week for the intentions of all of your fellow catechists who have journeyed through this retreat with you and for all those we teach. If you are new to the Rosary, here’s a good place to go to learn how to pray it: http://www.loyolapress.com/praying-the-rosary.htm
- Learn to pray the Angelus, a prayer that celebrates in Incarnation of Jesus and Mary’s role in saying “Yes” to God’s invitation (based on Luke 1:26-27). Catholics traditionally pray the Angelus at 6 am, noon, and 6 pm.
V. The angel of the Lord announced unto Mary.
R. And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.
- Hail Mary…
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it unto me according to your Word.
- Hail Mary…
V. And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.
- Hail Mary…
V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray: We beseech you, O Lord, pour your grace into our hearts, that as we have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, so by his cross and passion we may be brought to the glory of his resurrection; through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Recommended Reading on the Topic of Devotion to Mary:
Mary, the Compassionate Mother (Somos católicos Series) – Virgilio Elizondo
A Prayer Book of Catholic Devotions - Willam G. Storey
Images of Mary - Alfred McBride, O.Praem.
Mary: Mirror of the Church - Raniero Cantalamessa