Mary, Teach Me to Pray

The Bright Maidens posed this theme for this week (Tuesday): “Mary, our Guide”.

Thank you, Bright Maidens, for getting us to think again about our wonderful Mother, Mary, who does much to lead us to her Son.

I have learned much from Mary through her disposition towards the things of God, especially through her example as a woman of deep prayer. How else could her heart be ready to accept the Angel Gabriel’s announcement that she would bear the Son of God? How else could she accept that ‘her heart too would be pierced’ as prophesied by Simeon at the presentation of Jesus in the Temple? How else could she bear to stand at the foot of the Cross and watch in agony the suffering and death of her Son?

All of these moments – and we presume a lifetime of others not recorded in the Sacred Scriptures – present a picture of Mary as a woman who developed a deep life of prayer from an early age. One of the most prominent examples in the Bible of Mary’s prayer life is her Canticle of Praise, the Magnificat. It is this, I wish to contemplate in this post, as I ask Mary, “Mother, teach me to pray.”

The Gospel of Luke, chapter one describes the scene (verses 39-45). Mary travels to visit her cousin Elizabeth, and ‘when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,  the infant leaped in her womb, prompting Elizabeth to proclaim, “How is it that the mother of my Lord should come to me? … Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

To this, Mary responds with these words of praise to God, “Magnificat anima mea Dominum” – my soul magnifies the Lord! (Luke 1:46)

If we ponder her response, we can learn a lot from the young Nazarean. She has just come from a rather arduous journey. She carries a secret that she knows will, in part, be known to all in the coming months. Yet, she is met with such a force in the words of Elizabeth. I ask myself, ‘how would I respond?’ How do I respond when I am caught off guard by something someone says or does? Do I turn to ‘magnify the Lord’? One can only respond in such a way if grounded in prayer.

An example comes to mind of a dear friend of mine, who unfortunately has gone through a rather difficult time with her family. She is quite gifted, but also is often misunderstood and maligned by those who presumably love her. One day, we were talking when she received a phone call. Over the phone, a prominent family member spoke in a very rough tone to her. When the conversation finished, I could see that not all was well. But the reason I remember the incident at all, is because of my friend’s response. I asked her, “Are you okay?” To which she unhesitatingly replied, “Lord, you keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (from Isaiah 26:3).

“Magnificat anima mea Dominum!”

My friend, had long ago adopted Mary as a teacher. Mary, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit – “Sponsa Sancti Spiritus” – intercedes to the Spirit that our heart may become like hers – a heart that ponders the working of God in the daily unfolding of our lives. Mary understands us well. Not all was understood by Mary in her lifetime, but she gathered her experiences in her heart, taking them to prayer. Contemplating the mystery of God in her human experience. In her ‘taking all these things to her heart,’ she brought them to God in prayer.

There are so many occurrences in our daily existence that we don’t understand. Things happen that cannot be explained with human understanding. Logic is foiled. It is a temptation to take these moments and enclose them around our human ‘wisdom’, to try and make sense of them, or explain them in human terms. It takes great faith to turn them over to God, especially when the event in question is not one of our liking: a broken relationship; a terminally ill child; an undetermined illness; natural disasters; the loss of a loved one. All of these spark our emotions, and our need to make sense of our lives comes to the forefront, demanding an answer.

That is why Mary is such a good teacher in the school of prayer. So many unanswered questions in her life, taking each one and ‘pondering it in her heart.’

Mary, you always point us to your beloved Son, telling us, “Listen to Him.”
By your humility, you teach us to be humble.
By your obedience to the Spirit, you teach us to listen (obedire).
Mary, teach me to pray.
Teach me in my life’s journey
to have on my lips a song of praise – my Magnificat –
giving praise to the God of All.


Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55)

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen!


Related Posts:

The list is up at Bright Maidens Facebook page of this week’s contributers to the topic: “Mary our Guide”

Anthony S. Layne, blogging at Outside the Asylum writes of Our Lady of Good Counsel

Popular Piety and Mary

Three Reasons for Mary

On This Altar

The Passion of Christ and Mary’s Role


This post is linked at New Advent (5/18/11)


For more about Bright Maidens:

Their Facebook Page, Bright Maidens: A Young Catholic Commentary

A list of  “Catholic Sorority” participants of Bright Maidens


The Annunciation Sung (Angelus)

What better way to reflect on the Solemnity of the Annunciation than to hear the words prayed by Christians three times a day (at first light; at noonday; and at dusk) in the Angelus Domini prayer:

In these simple words, the story of the Incarnation of our Savior are told:

The Annunciation: The Angel of the Lord declared (announced) unto Mary – And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:26,30)

Mary’s Response: I am the handmaid of the Lord – Do unto me according to Your Word. (Luke 1:38)

The Incarnation: And the Word was made Flesh – And dwelt among us. (John 1:14)

In this prayer, we are shown the pattern of the Christian life, and how we too bring Christ to bear when our Fiat is like that of Mary’s: ‘Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum – be done unto me according the Word of the Lord’.

Mary, Mother of Christ,
as we contemplate your ‘yes’ at the words of the Angel Gabriel,
we turn to the Lord Jesus,
asking through your intercession,
that we too may be
God-bearers of your Son
in our small daily ‘yes’
that His will be done in our lives.
May God in His infinite mercy
hear us, and answer us.



Related Posts:

The Annunciation and the First Tabernacle

The Annunciation and the First Tabernacle

With the Solemnity of the Annunciation, we reflect upon that moment, when the Angel announces to the Virgin Mary, betrothed to Joseph, that she was chosen by God to be the God-bearer. We hear Mary’s fiat – her ‘yes’ – to fully participate in God’s salvific plan for all humanity:

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

And with her ‘yes’, “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14)

I was struck by this reality tonight, reading the third antiphon for first vespers:

“The eternal Word, born of the Father before time began, today emptied himself for our sake and became man.”

The Annunciation by the angel Gabriel, and Mary’s availability to God’s plan, opens the doorway to the mystery of the Incarnation, that is so eloquently mentioned by Saint John’s first epistle:

“What was from the beginning, what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we looked upon and touched with our hands
concerns the Word of life–
for the life was made visible;
we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you
the eternal life that was with the Father
and was made visible to us–
what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you,
so that you too may have fellowship with us;
for our fellowship is with the Father
and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”
(1 John 1:1-3)

The Annunciation paved the way for us to adore God in the flesh, initially present in the first tabernacle, Mary’s womb. And so, we begin a nine-month pilgrimage with Mary to the Nativity; nine-months in which God ’emptied himself’ taking on our weakest physical nature of total dependence on a woman. It is an opportune time, then, to also pray for the unborn, who share the vulnerability of the unborn Christ. They too, are fully present, in their mother’s womb.

Let us, remember then, to ask Mary on her feast day, to intercede for them.

Prayer to Our Lady of the Annunciation

Queen of heaven and earth,
daughter of the Father,
Mother of the divine Son,
spouse of the Holy Spirit,
I praise God for the unique grace given to you.

Mary, you became the great Mother of our divine Savior,
our Master, true Light of the world,
uncreated Wisdom, source of all truth and first Apostle of truth.
You gave the world the book to read, the eternal Word.

For this I bless the holy Trinity
and I ask you to obtain for me
the grace of heavenly wisdom,
to be a fervent disciple of Jesus
and to be lovingly devoted to the Church,
the pillar of truth.

Make the light of the Gospel
shine to the farthest bounds of the earth.
Queen of the Apostles, pray for us!

Prayer Source: Fr. James Alberione SSP
(H/T Divine Office)


Related Posts:

Our Lady’s Life before the Annunciation, by Dr. Edward P. Sri

What Confused Mary about the Annunciation

REMINDER: An efficacious way we can help Fr. Corapi and other accused Priests: A Novena for Fr John Corapi Novena begins today.

The Anchoress

Father Z

Happy Feast from Deacon Greg

Have Steak today – Indult for the Solemnity

Celebrating the Day of the Unborn Child

On the lighter side, from The Curt Jester, Mary’s Fiat

Fr. Frank Pavone, from a prolife perspective

Dr. Gerard M. Nadal, Full of Grace: Mary’s Yes and Ours