painting of the blessed virgin mary

Mary’s gaze! How important this is! How many things can we say with a look! Affection, encouragement, compassion, love, but also disapproval, envy, pride and even hatred. Often a look says more than words; it says what words do not or dare not say. 

At whom is the Blessed Virgin Mary looking? She is looking at each and every one of us. And how does she look at us? She looks at us as a Mother, with tenderness, mercy and love. That was how she gazed at her Son Jesus at all the moments of his life—joyful, luminous, sorrowful, glorious—as we contemplate in the mysteries of the Holy Rosary, simply and lovingly. 

When we are weary, downcast, beset with cares, let us look to Mary, let us feel her gaze, which speaks to our heart and says: “Courage, my child, I am here to help you!” Our Lady knows us well, she is a Mother, she is familiar with our joys and difficulties, our hopes and disappointments. When we feel the burden of our failings and our sins, let us look to Mary, who speaks to our hearts, saying: “Arise, go to my Son Jesus; in him you will find acceptance, mercy and new strength for the journey.” —Pope Francis

Enjoy this seven-day immersion experience with Our Lady.

Day One: The Unfinished Story

To think of Mary’s story as unfinished gives me comfort. There are moments in my morning quiet time, the smoke of rose incense rising, where I pray to her and I find that sense of peace within. It starts in my center, like a cloud clearing, and peacefulness radiates. Those moments, I fully trust that everything in my life is well, and I am filled with a light, airy sensation. Click here to read more.

Day Two: Relinquishment

As a writer I’m particularly struck by words that most of us know the meaning of, yet rarely incorporate into our daily conversations. Relinquishment is such a word. I begin each day asking the Divine to help me let go, to help me surrender, and now I will also ask for help in relinquishment. It has a more impactful song than “let go,” a plushness beyond “surrender.” Click here to read more.

Day Three: Pondering in Our Hearts

I love the expression “pondering in our hearts” because it so aptly captures my own journey with Mary. In all my years walking a spiritual path, I’ve striven to bring the best of who I am to each of my roles as a woman. Mary, too, was a daughter, wife, sister, friend, and mother. While all these relationships have dignity, it is true for me and for Mary that the role of mother is the one in which we have been required to stretch our spiritual selves most profoundly. Click here to read more.

Day Four: Omnipresence

I must admit, Holly’s rendering of a cross-cultural Mary touches my heart. In it, I see the shy expression of hundreds of teen girls I’ve taught. The omnipresence of Mary’s love is essential because I can’t rely on yesterday’s beliefs. I need the renewal of her guidance near me everyday. Click here to read more.

Day Five: New Eve

I’ve never understood Eve. Whenever I think of her apple, my mind is drawn to another woman with an “ordinary” object who led me to Mary. I am hesitating to tell this story because it’s precious to me. Four years ago, through a series of serendipitous events, I found myself spending the month of June at a writer’s retreat in the mountains of Assisi, Italy. On a blistering, hot afternoon, I descended the steps into the cool underground of the Basilica of St. Clare of Assisi. Click here to read more.

Day Six: Movement toward Christ

I’ve mentioned my struggle feeling worthy of God’s love, even in spite of having an incredible life where I love so many, and am loved in return. Recently I had an experience with Mary that, as Holly says, pierced my heart in its beauty and simplicity, and led me right to Christ’s love. A vital part of my spiritual life is a daily walk in the valley along a river where I observe the incessant shifting of New England seasons. Click here to read more.

Day Seven: Mother

Like many people, I had a grandmother who influenced my faith so thoroughly that 25 years after her death I still find guidance in what she left behind. I inherited a simple 5×7 piece of cardboard that’s one of my most precious belongings. Printed on it is an image of the Sacred Heart with which you are probably familiar. Jesus’ face flickers with light radiating from his own burning heart, the flames rising from a crown of thorns. Click here to read more.