Dear Pope Francis,
It’s hard to believe that this is my last letter for the month of May! Where has the time gone? I would be remiss if I had let the entire month pass and didn’t write a post about Mary, since this is a Marian month and all. When Meredith and I first talked about what we wanted to write about this month, Mary was one of the first, and most obvious, ideas.
My relationship to Mary has been mostly non-existent for the bulk of my life. I never really understood why she was so central to the faith when we had the Trinity already. I would prayer the “Hail Mary” when my catechism class or youth group did so, but the Rosary was not an integral part of my prayer life. However, over the last couple of years, primarily since I moved, I have found myself turning to Mary more often in my prayer.
I began to relate more readily to her Fiat in Luke’s Gospel, when, at Gabriel’s news that she would bear a son, she says “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). In this moment, Mary was confused. She didn’t understand what exactly was going to happen, other than God wanted her to bear His son, and she still said yes. This idea of saying yes resonated with me, because I spent much of my first year of the M.Div. not really understanding why God wanted me to study. I knew that he had led me to this school and more specifically this program, but I couldn’t (and still can’t) see exactly what He’s got planned for me. In those moments of doubt, I tried to have the simple faith of Mary, the faith that could be content in saying ‘yes’ to God, and then letting His will be done. I am far from exercising this simplicity regularly in my faith. I question God all the time, but Mary continues to be a role model for me.
In the last few months, when I have been really stressed or upset, I have found myself turning to Mary in prayer as often as I have been turning to God. It’s not that I worship Mary, it’s more that I have a conversation with her, very much like the kinds of conversations I would have with my own mom. The conversations are telling Mary what’s going on, what’s stressing me out or why I’m feeling terrible, and then I ask her to pray for me, in much the same way I would ask my mom, or any of my other close friends to pray for me. It is interesting that in the moments when God seems furthest away, I turn to Mary. There is something about her, I think of it as her gentle presence, which allows me to open up and let her in when praying to God just isn’t working for me.
Does this mean that I’m going to start praying the Rosary every single day? I don’t really know. I appreciate the prayers of the Rosary, especially the “Hail Mary”, when I don’t have my own words for prayer, but I still need to pray in my own way. My prayer life tends to grow and develop spontaneously. It’s one of the few places in my life that I don’t have strict goals that I try to meet. If at some point, praying the Rosary becomes something I need to do on a regular basis, then I will pick up then. Until that point, I will continue to relish in the wonderful mother-daughter time I have with my Spiritual Mother now.
Enjoying the (Spiritual) Mother-daughter time