by Bethany Hughes
What do you think of when you hear the name Mary? Does Mary remind you of your best friend from your childhood, or maybe a random girl you had a math class with? For me, I automatically think of the great Mother of God, Mary most holy. I think of a loving mother who is always there for her children. Today I am going to tell you a little about my Mary, who has become so dear to me.
So who is Mary? The most obvious answer is that she is the Mother of God; she gave birth to our Lord, Jesus Christ. However, she is known by various other names: Ave Maria, Our Lady of Guadeloupe, Blessed Virgin, Salve Regina, and many more.
Why is she so important? Why do you see her everywhere in the Catholic Church? In case I haven’t said it enough already, she is the Mother of God! Of all the people in existence (past, present, and future), God chose HER to bear His only Son. He chose to conceive Him in her womb, and to develop an amazingly special bond with Him. She helped Him take His first steps and also endured His last steps to Calvary. Throughout her life, Mary obeyed God without question. When the angel Gabriel appeared and told her that she would conceive through the power of the Holy Spirit, she said “I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word.” When her only Son was hanging on the cross, she endured it with the same strength. Was it hard? Of course it was! Though she was born without original sin, Mary was still human. This is what makes her so incredible. She suffered with Christ as he hung upon the cross. She gave her life so that Jesus could give His life for us. For this reason, she is said be the Co-Redemptrix or Co-Redeemer.
So what does Mary have to do with us? Do you remember in the Gospels, when John the beloved was standing with Mary at the foot of the cross? Jesus told John to take Mary as his mother, and Mary to take John as her son. In this scene, we believe that John represents all of humanity. We believe that Mary is our spiritual mother, and we are her adopted children. She is constantly praying for us and interceding on our behalf. Because of her unusual bond with our Savior, Mary’s intercessions carry a very special weight. At the wedding feast of Cana, Mary voiced her concern about the lack of wine to Jesus. It was through Mary’s involvement that Jesus preformed his first public miracle. She is always willing and ready to hear our prayers. She wants to bring them to Jesus and have them answered according to His will.
So how did I develop this great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary? Well it’s taken me awhile to figure out this answer for myself because I didn’t really know Mary when I was growing up. I am a cradle Catholic. We went to Mass every Sunday, I went to religious education, and I even sung in the choir. But I never really knew much about what I was doing, or where I was going every Sunday. Honestly, I can’t remember a time growing up where I prayed a Hail Mary or the rosary. And my only memory of Mary growing up was occasionally hearing her referred to as the Mother of Jesus. But even then, it didn’t register in my brain just how important she was. For some reason, probably through divine intervention, I chose Mary as my confirmation saint. At the time, I didn’t have a specific reason for choosing her. It wasn’t until later that I began to grasp her importance.
It was when I came to the University of North Georgia and began going to CCM. I met some incredible young women who brought me even closer to my faith. They showed me what it means to truly have a relationship with Jesus. The Lord used them to ignite the flame in my heart for Mary and Jesus – which still burns to this day. They taught me what it’s like to have a loving and caring relationship with my Redeemer, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Without this devotion to Mary, I don’t think I could have made it through my first two years of college. During this time of growth I started to gain my independence and began to recognize the personality differences between me and my own parents. I realized that these differences put great strains on our relationship. During this time I gained a deeper love and devotion to Mary. I began saying the rosary on a regular basis. I was able to talk to her about my worries and concerns, and I constantly ask for her intercession for my relationship with my parents. Mary knows me just as well as she knows her Son. I am her child and she is my mother.