“The month of May is almost here, a month which the piety of the faithful has long dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God. Our heart rejoices at the thought of the moving tribute of faith and love which will soon be paid to the Queen of Heaven in every corner of the earth. For this is the month during which Christians, in their churches and their homes, offer the Virgin Mother more fervent and loving acts of homage and veneration; and it is the month in which a greater abundance of God’s merciful gifts comes down to us from our Mother’s throne.” (Pope Paul VI, Mense Maio)
We can be certain that Jesus loves his Mother with a very great love, if not the greatest love of any other human person. If we want to be like Jesus, we should also love Mary as our mother with a special love and devotion.
Mary loves each of us individually because her Son loves us so much and gave his life for us on the cross. As our mother in Heaven, she loves us more than our own mothers who are less perfect than she, no matter how wonderful they may be.
We can honor Mary by loving her as our Mother, and most of all, by loving and following her son, Jesus Christ. We also may love and honor Mary by doing what she asked us to do in her approved apparitions. She is an example for us to follow.
Many people wonder how to pray and the best way to pray. If we listen to the Blessed Mother’s messages such as at Fatima, she asked us to pray the rosary and to meditate on the mysteries. Some people downplay the rosary as a lesser form of prayer, but it has been highly recommended not only by Mary but also by many popes and saints.
The rosary is a prayer that people at any level of the spiritual life can pray, from beginners to more advanced. Saints Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II, and Padre Pio, for example, all regularly prayed the rosary and often more than once per day. Padre Pio called it our “spiritual weapon”.
The rosary is not just a vocal prayer, but a meditation on some of the most important events in the life of Jesus Christ through the eyes of Mary. You could say the mysteries of the rosary are the Gospel in miniature. The rosary is also a “path to contemplation” according to St. Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Rosarium Virginis Mariae where he also said the following:
“But the most important reason for strongly encouraging the practice of the Rosary is that it represents a most effective means of fostering among the faithful that commitment to the contemplation of the Christian mystery.… The Rosary belongs among the finest and most praiseworthy traditions of Christian contemplation.”
Prayer in the Modern World
There is some debate today about whether or not some popular meditation techniques are suited for Christians including those originating from New Age or non-Christian sources. If our goal is to grow closer to God in prayer, then it is best to learn and practice methods of Christian prayer developed in the Church over the centuries rather than experimenting with secular or non-Christian meditation. Some non-Christian meditation techniques can be a waste of time or even may be harmful spiritually.
Union with God
The goal of prayer and the spiritual life is union with God. Christian prayer focuses on God and the things of God, while secular and non-Christian meditation techniques often focus on the inner self and achieving a certain state of mind or experience.
God grants mystical experiences in prayer at times, but these are more a blessing and byproduct of seeking God in prayer. If one seeks spiritual experiences by focusing on them as a goal, they will generally not be found.
Jesus said to seek and you will find. In seeking, we will find God more and more in prayer. God wishes to give us his graces and blessings. The highest forms of prayer (such as infused contemplation and mystical prayer) are a gift from God and something that cannot be produced by a technique.
God Himself is the greatest blessing, and we should seek him above all else in prayer. The more we pray because we love and desire to serve God (while at the same time obeying God, avoiding sin, and practicing virtue), the more we will be united to God.
To put this in another way, God is the source of all goodness and our ultimate happiness. The peace and joy of union with God can begin here on earth. Achieving a higher state of consciousness or peaceful inner state apart from God will ultimately not fulfill us. Only God can ultimately satisfy our minds and hearts, as we were made by God and for union with God. Scripture tells us we are to love God above all things.
In short, prayer should be focused on God and not on ourselves or our experience. Some highly recommended Catholic forms of prayer include (but are not limited to) speaking to Jesus as you would to your best friend, praying the rosary meditatively, and Lectio Divina. It is also important to regularly participate in the Mass and sacraments, especially Holy Communion, in order to please God and to receive the graces God gives us through them.
This May let’s recall our love for our Blessed Mother who intercedes for us with her Son. As devoted children of such a holy mother, let’s do what she asks. In her approved apparitions she has asked us to stop sinning, to do penance, and to follow Jesus. At Fatima she asked us to pray the rosary for peace in the world, the conversion of sinners, salvation of souls, and in reparation for sin. She along with her Son desire that we have a close union with God.
Prayer: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” (from a vision of the Miraculous Medal by St Catherine Laboure)