Online Retreat for Catechists – Week 7: Devotion to Mary

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

vmdirectIn 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:

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16 Responses to “Online Retreat for Catechists – Week 7: Devotion to Mary”

  1. Mary Ann Says:

    I think for all of us who have answered the call to be a catechist is how we are all following God’s will. We all said ‘yes’ when asked to teach as Mary did when she was first asked to be the Mother of God. Saying ‘yes’ is more difficult than saying ‘no’ and requires more work in the long run.

    I never thought about which event in Mary’s life was the one I wanted to imitate the most or which story I enjoyed the most until you presented these questions. I think I have to say that I enjoy relating to my students the very first introduction of Mary’s life mainly because she was close to their own age. She had so much trust and love for her God, that she accepted with an open-heart and mind all that was asked of her.

    As for my own devotion to Mary, my heavenly Mother, I think I was probably around the same age as the children I teach – Junior High – possibly younger when I began understanding my love for Mary. During the Korean War, my Mother would gather us children in our small living room and we would pray the rosary every evening for the safety of my Dad. When he returned home, I was so very grateful to Our Lady and knew the power of prayer as a first grader. I can also remember hearing the story of Fatima and Lourdes and wishing that the Blessed Mother would some day appear to me! She didn’t but she’s always been present in my heart throughout my life.

    I was very fortunate that I had excellent examples of devotion to Mary through my own Mother and Grandmothers. Both my Grandmothers were from Sicily and always had rosary beads in their hands praying morning, afternoon and evening. They also attended daily Mass until their health stopped them. I was always so proud to have been named Mary Ann by my Mother. Just think, Mary, Jesus’ mommy and Ann, Mary’s mommy! I’m double-blessed!

    Thank you, Joe, for giving us this retreat. I hope you do it again next summer!

    Reply

  2. Christian Says:

    In my 6th grade class, I use Mary as a thread to explain and connect the Holydays of Obligation. It keeps them from being separate bits of information, and it’s a good way to also give the kids some understanding of the unique relationship between Jesus & his mother.

    Reply

  3. Faith Says:

    Receiving a devotion to Mary when I entered the church 2 1/2 years ago was an unexpected blessing. I was used to a “Jesus and me” spirituality: what a joy to realize that my new family (the communion of saints – both visible and invisible) had a mother! And as a mother myself, I deeply sense her undergirding presence strengthening and guiding me as I pray for my sons and my students. As a catechist, I learn from Mary that my willingness to listen and follow God’s leading is more important than my words.

    Reply

  4. Barb Says:

    Hi Joe,
    Week 7 questions won’t download for me again. It says the file is damaged. Could you please e-mail them to me.
    Thank you

    Reply

  5. Christian Says:

    It took me until today to post on my favorite Mary meditation. It’s based on a type of Greek icon called Our Lady of the Sign. Wikipedia says:

    “The icon depicts the Theotokos during the Annunciation at the moment of saying, “May it be done to me according to your word.”

    It shows Mary with Jesus in her womb, of course in a stylized way.

    It’s also called called Platytera (Greek: ??at?t??a, literally wider or more spacious); poetically, by containing the Creator of the Universe in her womb, Mary has become Platytera ton ouranon (??at?t??a t?? ???a???): “More spacious than the heavens”. (from Wiki)

    I like to reflect on this icon for a few reasons:

    1. The humbleness of God to put Himself into this little human place.

    2. The uniqueness of Mary, that she would have all the immensity/ infiniteness of God within her.

    3. God’s great love for us, and his particular love of Mary.

    4. The profound mystery of the relationship between Mary and her Son.

    5. How dignified and mysterious is the role of mothers in giving life.

    Each year in class I wind up referring to the Platytera a few times to help the kids with the above concepts. It’s nice image, and the kids love pictures; plus it gets the Eastern Church in front of them a bit.

    Reply

  6. Anonymous Says:

    I’m so happy we get a “Mary” week on this retreat. Since I was raised Catholic, Mary has always been with me….even during the years when I didn’t feel like I was doing much practicing of my Catholicism. I honestly think I can give Mary the credit every time I have a “re-conversion”. My most recent re-discovery of our faith a couple years ago was a commitment to start saying the rosary daily. I have kept that commitment but, for me, the incredible mysteries of the rosary have done soooo much to teach me about the life of Jesus. More than any other teaching, I think I love the mysteries more than anything else. If I could spend a whole year teaching others about the life of Jesus, I think I would concentrate on nothing else but the mysteries of our beautiful rosary. The mysteries (and the bible stories that they lead us to) have catechized me and continue to do so.

    The incredible Luminous Mysteries that were given to us by Pope JPII are something I have meditated on much more since becoming a catechist. I think these mysteries should be called the “catechist mysteries” as they all give great examples for us catechists to learn from and study.

    The wedding feast at Cana is my favorite Mary story in the Bible and I love that it is one of the luminous mysteries. It is so fitting that “do whatever he tells you” are Mary’s last words. Whenever I read that story, I feel like Mary is talkng to me to saying “remember who you are”.

    Joe, the phrase “God does not call the qualified but qualifies the called” is something I will remember from this week’s session. If nothing else, I will use it the next time I am trying to recruit someone to be a catechist ;-)

    On a separate note, Joe. Between this website, other websites, and some Catholic online classes I have taken, I struggle with when to capitalize certain words (Church vs church, Catholic vs catholic, Faith vs faith, do we capitalize rosary at all?). Any advice/rules you can give us on that? I run into that every time I’m typing.

    Reply

    • Joe Says:

      Dear Anonymous, thanks for sharing your thoughts about Mary…I’m glad you found this week particularly enriching. I get confused about the capitalization issue as well. I usually do capitalize Rosary. As for giving rules about capitalizing, I’m not good at that. I’m lucky to have editors who do that work for me!

      Reply

  7. Greg Says:

    I’m so happy we get a “Mary” week on this retreat. Since I was raised Catholic, Mary has always been with me….even during the years when I didn’t feel like I was doing much practicing of my Catholicism. I honestly think I can give Mary the credit every time I have a “re-conversion”. My most recent re-discovery of our faith a couple years ago was a commitment to start saying the rosary daily. I have kept that commitment but, for me, the incredible mysteries of the rosary have done soooo much to teach me about the life of Jesus. More than any other teaching, I think I love the mysteries more than anything else. If I could spend a whole year teaching others about the life of Jesus, I think I would concentrate on nothing else but the mysteries of our beautiful rosary. The mysteries (and the bible stories that they lead us to) have catechized me and continue to do so.

    The incredible Luminous Mysteries that were given to us by Pope JPII are something I have meditated on much more since becoming a catechist. I think these mysteries should be called the “catechist mysteries” as they all give great examples for us catechists to learn from and study.

    The wedding feast at Cana is my favorite Mary story in the Bible and I love that it is one of the luminous mysteries. It is so fitting that “do whatever he tells you” are Mary’s last words. Whenever I read that story, I feel like Mary is talkng to me to saying “remember who you are”.

    Joe, the phrase “God does not call the qualified but qualifies the called” is something I will remember from this week’s session. If nothing else, I will use it the next time I am trying to recruit someone to be a catechist ;-)

    On a separate note, Joe. Between this website, other websites, and some Catholic online classes I have taken, I struggle with when to capitalize certain words (Church vs church, Catholic vs catholic, Faith vs faith, do we capitalize rosary at all?). Any advice/rules you can give us on that? I run into that every time I’m typing.

    Reply

    • Joe Says:

      Greg, I see that your comment came twice, first as anonymous but now your true identity is revealed!

      Reply

      • Greg Says:

        Ha. Yes, my name and email address usually get filled in automatically and as I was hitting ‘send’, I noticed they weren’t there….oops. Oh well, just call me Anonymous.

        Reply

  8. Rita Says:

    I don’t recall the actual time when the impact of the role of Mary, the complete comprehension of Mary, came to me but I understand Mary as much as I earthly can. The calling, her answer, the cofusion of how she became pregnant, Joseph’s understandig and acceptance, who she was to give birth to, the place of birth, the time of birth, the location of the birth, the growth and development of her son as well as her growth and development of raising the son, the son, Christ Himself, her acceptance of her role in religion, the church, her power, her prayer and how she continues to remain in the world today through spirit and through visual sight. Mary = Magnificent, Adoration, Reflection (of ) Yahweh. (Poetically stated)
    My mother has had heart conditions for the past 20 years. One particular night I received a call from one of my sisters telling me that mom had been rushed to the hospital for congestive heart failure. I hurridly dressed and drove to the hospital ( about 35 minutes away ). From the time I left my driveway until I walled into the emergeny room I prayed Hail Mary’s. I can’t recall the drive much as I was quite trance-like in absolute devotion of prayer to Mary through Hail Mary’s. When I reached the hospital, I was informed my mother was brought in as a code blue and not expected to make it, but she did, and she is still alive and well this very day. I believed it was I who saved her by prayer, but it wasn’t, it was Mary answering my prayers and bringing my prayer directly to my Father who in turn spared my mother on this night.

    My mother is the woman/person in my life who continues to be in awe of Mary and continues to demonstrate through experiences, stories and absolute devotion, the powers that the rosary holds and the graces that can be received.

    Jehovah Witnesses regulary come to my door. I decided long ago to open my door to them and sit down on my couch and talk. We have probabaly had 5-8 hours of converstaion. I recall one afternoon the subject to be Mary. Although there was acceptance that Mary is the Mother of Jesus Christ, prayer should not be directed to Mary, as prayer should be directed to Christ himself without a “middle” person. I spoke to a woman friend (who is Christian) about prayer to Mary or, simply praying to Christ instead of Mary as a “middle” person. I was quite shocked when this woman’s response was quite the same as the Jehovah Witness. Both threw this question to me: Why pray to Mary when you can pray to Christ himself? WOW. I admit it stuck in my thoughts for quite some time. Started to make sense too. Until I was enlightened with absolute truth. Mary takes all prayers and directs them to our Father and the Son. And, our Father and our Son is listening while we are praying to Mary. In a nutshell, I understand Mary and have no more “stuck thoughts” about praying to the mother of Christ. She is the mother of all mother’s and the Queen of heaven.

    To be even slightly in the same hood ( as in motherhood) as Mary, gosh, wow, incredible. I am a mother of three. I pray to Mary more so directly than through reciting or praying the rosary. Most likely due to something I had read about the rosary. A handbook on how to pray the rosary…much to confusing for me, knwoing what day of the week to pray which sorrow….I felt I’d mess it all up and decided to be more on a personal prayer base than not praying the rosary right. But, my prayers are genuine when I pray to the Mother of Christ.

    Joe ~ THANK YOU so much for this online retreat. Absolutely awesome! I LOVED it. I do hope you do this next year! I thank Maria P. ( my R.E. Director) for telling me about this online retreat. I soooooo look forward to teaching a new first grade and sixth grade class. I have been blessed with new ideas and inspirations by all the participants of this online retreat. Thanks to each of you! May all of you have a wonderful remaining summer and I pray that all of you are filled with the Holy Spirit while teaching about Christ this coming season. May God bless you all!
    ~ With love, Rita ~

    Reply

    • Joe Says:

      Rita, thanks for your grea thoughts about Mary our Mother. I’m glad you have found this retreat to be an enriching experience. Thanks so much for your contributions.

      Reply

  9. Bernie Says:

    Just like a good lesson plan in RE, each session of this retreat flowed from the previous sessions ending with this reflection on Mary. Two thoughts stick out in mind regarding our Blessed Mother. The first being that she offered tremendous support to me a few years back when my husband and I along with a couple of his aunts were helping my mother-in-law who was terminally ill. There was one particular period when things were extremely bleak and I put a heartfelt SOS to Mary. The answer to that prayer was different than what I expected but much better than I ever imagined. The second reflection occured just a couple of weeks ago when I was sitting in church before Mass started looking at the stations of the cross. When I looked at the station of where “Jesus Meets His Mother”, I was struck that even in His immense suffering, Jesus extended His compassionate love and care to His mother (and ultimately to us).

    Thank you for not only offering this retreat but all you have done the past three years with this blog. You have been an tremendous source of ideas, support and an internet “mentor” of sorts to me. You are truly a catechist for us catechists.

    Reply

    • Joe Says:

      Bernie, thanks for the beautiful thoughts about our Lady and for your kind words about the retreat and my blog!

      Reply

  10. Eileen Says:

    Here is something I think you all who are devoted to Mary will appreciate: Mary’s Immaculate Heart shows us the love of the Sacred Heart of Christ with greater clarity! When one thinks of a mother, they usually think of a love so strong that words cannot describe it. Love is the only thing that lasts forever. Mary, as the Mother of Jesus, had the sweetest and most ardent love for Jesus of any human being. The love of this Mother’s heart is so strong and powerful that God has favored Mary. He listens to her and highly respects her. It is this love of Mary that can help us to see more clearly how to live like her Son. She leads us to Christ!

    Reply

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