By Maria Covarrubias
The Second Vatican Council document on the Church, Lumen Gentium (“Light to the Nations”), ends with a chapter on Mary. This is to highlight Mary’s role in our salvation history. Understanding more clearly the role of Mary in God’s plan of salvation help us to better grasp the role that God wants her to play in our spiritual lives. We honor Mary because God honored her in a very unique way when he chose her to be the Mother of God Incarnate, Jesus Christ.
Over the centuries, many titles have been given to describe Mary’s role in Christianity. In recent decades, the titles “Woman of Faith” and “Model Disciple” have been used a lot. Mary is called “Woman of Faith” because in and through all the trials of life, she never doubted God. She trusted that God would be faithful to her. At the Annunciation, Mary was called to trust that she would conceive a child through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Church also presents Mary to us as Model Disciple because she was open and responsive to God’s plan. It has been well said that long before Mary conceived Jesus in her womb, she had conceived him in her heart. Mary is Model Disciple because she trusted God when it was not easy to do so. When nearly all of Jesus’ disciples had fled in fear, Mary remained faithful to him all the way to Calvary.
The Church rightly honors Mary with special devotion. This devotion differs essentially from the adoration given to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Catholics venerate Mary because she is the Mother of God. We honor her because God honored her. When we kneel before statues of Mary or carry her in a religious procession, we are not worshipping her. Rather, we are honoring and showing our affection for the one who is closest to Jesus, the one who was most faithful to him. The heart of Marian spirituality is not in the reciting of particular prayers in honor of Mary, but in “doing what Jesus tells us to do” (Jn 2:5). True devotees of Mary are those who listen to Jesus’ word and act on it.
In his Apostolic Letter on the Rosary (Oct. 2002), St. John Paul II shared with us his special love for the Rosary when he wrote: “The Rosary has accompanied me in moments of joy and in moments of difficulty. To it I have entrusted any number of concerns; in it I have always found comfort. The Rosary is my favorite prayer. It is marvelous in its simplicity and its depths.” During her many apparitions to us on earth, our Blessed Mother has encouraged us to pray the Rosary. The exhortation alone should be reason enough for us to seek to develop a love for this form of prayer. The Rosary is a Christ-centered and biblically-based prayer to help us worship Christ and honor Mary; by praying the Rosary we meditate on events in the life of Jesus.
For Reflection: Are you familiar with the Rosary? If you pray the Rosary, what motivates you to do so? If you do not pray the Rosary, why not?
Maria Covarrubias is Director of the Office of Catechetical Ministry for the Diocese of San Bernardino.