Franciscan Spirit Blog

Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth

As Mary’s story shows us, one person’s faith can forever change the world.

Over the years as a mom, I’ve learned that there are certain qualities that are very useful for parents to have. These include a sense of humor, the ability to multitask, and the knowledge of which battles to pick (note: forcing a toddler into pants he doesn’t want to wear is the very definition of “lost cause”). As important as all these are, though, I think the most useful parental quality is faith.

What is faith? I’d define it as the ability to trust that there will be good things ahead. It’s the knowledge that this moment—this cross-country flight with a screaming baby, this child’s scary bout with pneumonia—is not the final chapter. Something good is waiting to happen. Often that something good is over a distant horizon, impossible to see from where we stand. Faith is the certainty that it is there all the same.

Every parent faces countless situations where faith is required. When I think of Mary, it’s clear that she was an expert in this area. She gave birth on the road; she had to escape to a foreign country for her baby’s safety; she even lost her teenage son for a few terrifying days. When her child was an adult, she saw him saying things that hit a little too close to the bone of the powerful ones, who ended up killing him.

All of it must have taken extraordinary faith on Mary’s part. And yet, even she must have been surprised and overjoyed at the exact nature of the good things that were finally revealed: a resurrection, eternal life, a fleet of devoted friends who would travel the globe to share the message of her son.

And Mary was no silent bystander. I love the image of Our Lady passing on her knowledge to the apostles. I imagine them in a semicircle around her, listening raptly to this middle-aged woman who knew details about Jesus that no one else knew. And I like to think that they also learned from her faith, the faith of a mother who faced countless frightening situations but who always believed that something good would happen. Perhaps her faith gave some of them the extra boost of courage that they needed to spread her son’s story to the world.

Because that’s the thing about faith: it can be wonderfully contagious. And, as Mary’s story shows, one person’s faith can change the world.


Nourishing Love: A Franciscan Celebration of Mary by Murray Bodo


Some years ago, Life magazine featured Mary on its cover, and one comment in the accompanying article caught my attention. The text stated that one billion Hail Marys are prayed every day. Why? Because so many love our Blessed Mother, who gives us the joy in response to our hunger for it. Aside from the serenity the prayer brings us, at times it even brings us joy.

Divine joy calms us down, invites us to rest in God and in the heart of Mary. This spirituality of joy is infinitely more satisfying than the sadness we encounter every day in empty promises.

Jesus felt that joy too. People praised his mother by saying, “Blessed is the womb that carried you.” He replied, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (Luke 11:27–28). Perhaps, what Jesus was saying is this: “The only one who has heard God’s word and really kept it is my mom.”

Amen.


Prayer to Our Lady

Mary, guide us to serve in the ways of your son.
Give us the strength that you so often displayed and help us to be living examples
of his message and to carry it to the world.

In our daily lives, help us to act with the courage that you have modeled
for us and to face our challenges and obstacles with the same faith.
In you, we see a shining example that all will be well through your son.



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