Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

A reflection on the word “AND”

By Peggy Bowes

I kneel in front of the plaster statue of Mary after mass, frustrated that my relationship with my heavenly Mother is somehow statue-like: an attempt at trying to capture something beautiful but not quite getting there.

Occasionally there are moments when it’s just right, like during my first pregnancy when I felt as if Mary held me gently in her arms as I fought through waves of nausea, assuring me that becoming a mother was the greatest thing I could ever do.

Then there was the time when my Little Flowers Girls’ Club May Crowning ceremony was not as perfect as I’d hoped, and I felt as if I’d somehow disappointed her. As I silently begged forgiveness, I was overcome by the most wonderful sense of love and the realization that the little girls I had guided were indeed honoring her in a way that pleased her immensely.

It’s in those rare moments of grace that I truly feel the “and” between Mary and me. Yet most of the time it is elusive, like the plaster statue that will always be an unworthy imitation.

In an attempt to strengthen my relationship with Mary, I recently made the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary, using St. Louis de Montfort’s 33-day program. It was one of the most difficult periods of my life, and I believed that the trial would somehow result in an almost magical transformation of my life and my devotion to Mary. It didn’t. In fact, she seemed more distant than ever.

I reflected on those moments of grace when I felt truly united with Mary and realized that they occurred when I gave her my whole heart without reserve. Of course! I felt close to Mary when I imitated her and her complete giving of self to God. When I didn’t, I was the plaster statue, the unworthy imitation.

St. Louis de Montfort understood this perfectly. In True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, he says, “Beg her to lend you her heart, saying, ‘O Mary, I take you for my all; give me your heart.’”

So there it is. If I want to strengthen the “and” between Mary and me, I must borrow her heart and give her my all, becoming a worthy imitation, not a dim shadow of a plaster statue.

Peggy Bowes is the author of The Rosary Workout and co-author of Tending the Temple. Learn more at her website, www.rosaryworkout.com.

image credit: MorgueFile