Love for Mary, the Blessed Mother of the Lord Jesus Christ, is as natural to the Catholic as love for one’s own mother. Mary is, after all, the Mother of the Lord, and he is, at once, our Savior and our Brother. “We never give more honor to Jesus than when we give honor to his Mother and we honor her simply and solely to honor him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek, Jesus her Son (St. Louis Marie de Montfort, 1673-1716).”  

We worship the Lord Jesus as God.  We love Mary as his mother.

“In danger, in anguish, in uncertainty,” St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) wrote, “Think of Mary, call on Mary. May she never be far from your lips, from your heart; and, thus, you will be able to obtain the help of her prayer, never forget the example of her life. If you follow her, you cannot go astray; if you pray to her, you cannot despair; if you think of her, you cannot be mistaken. If she sustains you, you cannot fall; if she protects you, you have nothing to fear; if she guides you, do not tire; if she is propitious to you, you will reach the goal…” (Hom. II super “Missus est,” 17: PL 183, 70-71).

In more recent times, Pope St. Paul VI encouraged our Marian devotion, writing: “Mary remains ever the path that leads to Christ. Every encounter with her can only result in an encounter with Christ himself.” This is so natural an experience because it is so true.

In his 1979 homily in Washington, D.C., Pope St. John Paul II preached, “From Mary, we learn to surrender to God’s will in all things. From Mary, we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary, we learn to love Christ, her Son and the Son of God. … I therefore exhort you in Christ Jesus, to continue to look to Mary as the model of the Church, as the best example of the discipleship of Christ. Learn from her to be always faithful, to trust that God's word to you will be fulfilled and that nothing is impossible with God. Turn to Mary frequently in your prayer, ‘for never was it known that anyone who fled to her protection, implored her help or sought her intercession was left unaided’ (Homily, Oct. 6, 1979).”

Almost 30 years later, while addressing the crowds in St. Peter’s Square on the Feast of the Visitation, May 31, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI remarked, “Going beyond the surface, Mary ‘sees’ the work of God in history with the eyes of faith. That is why she is ‘blessed’: because she believed.”

In a July 24, 2013 homily, Pope Francis reflected, “When the Church looks for Jesus, she always knocks at the Mother’s door and asks, ‘show us Jesus.’ It is from Mary that the Church learns true discipleship. That is why the Church always goes out on mission in the footsteps of Mary.”

Christianity has loved Mary the Mother of God since the Lord Jesus’ final moments on the Cross when he said to John the Beloved Disciple, “‘Behold your Mother.’ From that hour onward, the disciple took her into his care (John 19: 27).”  And so, he did.  And so have we. Mary was God’s most precious, most perfect gift to Jesus, and Jesus’ most precious, most perfect gift to the Church.

Since the 13th century, the entire month of May has been set aside by the Church for loving devotion to Mary the Mother of God – and for good reason.

The darkness of winter has passed, beautiful flowers are in bloom, the Easter Season is well underway and new life is all around us. What better time could there be for loving and honoring the one who was given to us because she has given us her Son – the Light of the World, the Source of all Beauty and Goodness and Truth, the Newness and Fullness of Life. Mary is the Mother of God and, as the Second Vatican Council proclaimed, she is also the “Mother of the Church.”  

A mother’s love is unconditional and total. It is only natural, then, that we return such love with true devotion. “If you put all the love of all mothers into one heart, it still would not equal the love of the heart of Mary for her children (St. Louis Marie Montfort).”  

And so, we call upon her from the deepest parts of our being in all the moments of our lives, especially now throughout challenging times the world faces.

“Mary, Mother of Jesus, please be a mother to me now (St. Teresa of Calcutta, 1910-1997).”  And, “If you are in danger, if your hearts are confused, turn to Mary. She is our comfort, our help. Turn towards her and you will be saved (St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, 1850-1917).” 

The Hail Mary, the Rosary, devotion to the Miraculous Medal, the Hail Holy Queen and Marian antiphons, the Magnificat, the Regina Caeli and Angelus prayers, the brown and green scapulars – these are just some of the prayers to Our Blessed Mother, drawn from the rich treasury of the Catholic Church’s long tradition, seeking her intercession and her help. I encourage the clergy and faithful of the Diocese to take advantage of the month of May in prayer each day, especially the Rosary.

And, of course, we cannot forget St. Bernard of Clairvaux’s prayer, “The Memorare:”

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.