There is a wonderful gem hidden within the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius that has been a grace-filled gift to my prayer life. Early in the Exercises, Ignatius recommends a creative type of prayer known as the colloquy. A colloquy, as Ignatius describes, is a conversation that, “is made, properly speaking, as one friend speaks to another” (SE 54). At times this involves a series of three conversations beginning with Mary, continuing with Jesus, and culminating with the Father. What surprised me most was how this simple model of conversation opened me up to the great mediating gift that is Mary, the Mother of our Lord.
Initially it seemed to be a horribly inefficient way of praying. If God the Father was the goal, I wondered, why not simply start there? In spite of my doubts, I endeavoured to at least give it a try.
I pictured Mary before me and began expressing the needs and desires of my heart. Much to my surprise, our conversation flowed with great ease. As I spoke with our Blessed Mother, she helped me to see in a new light the true nature of my needs and the heart of my desires. Through her gentle, loving presence, her encouragements, and consolations, I began to appreciate just how great Mary’s own love was for me. In the face of my doubts, I discovered the Mother of God expressing deep concern for me and wanting, even more than I, to deepen my relationship with her beloved son.
My heart leaped as she grasped my hand in hers, and rising, bid me follow her. I have spent time in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; I pray with Christ in his Word through the Liturgy of the Hours and lectio divina; I even speak to him on my walks and while driving to and from work. But I had never felt so profoundly humbled and so deeply loved as I did in that moment. Standing before my Lord with Mary at my side—our hands clasped, a gentle, encouraging smile on her face—I was able to express myself and listen to his voice with a depth and focus I hadn’t even known had been missing.
When I was young and struggling with a difficult choice or challenging situation, I would often find myself running to my mother for help. Inevitably her first reaction would be to calm me down, comfort me, and then help me to clarify what the actual problem was. Now that I am older, facing bigger challenges, and struggling with more important decisions as a father, a husband, and a catechist, it’s good to know that the Mother of my Lord and God is always there to share her own brand of comfort and consolation and to help provide me with the clarity that is so important when making choices in life.
This month of May, with its traditional focus on Mary, is an excellent time for us as catechists to turn to our Blessed Mother in colloquy-style conversation for guidance and clarity in our lives and in our ministry.