Getting to know Mary, Our Mother

Karna Swanson

Leading up to the Oct. 13 consecration of the Archdiocese of Denver to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the archdiocese will release a series of five videos called Marian Moments, that seek to help the faithful grow closer to Mary by learning more about her virtues, and imitating those virtues in daily life.

The videos will be accompanied by suggested readings from Scripture and Tradition, and a classic Marian prayer to memorize.

In English, the videos feature Father Ryan O’Neill, vocations director for the Archdiocese of Denver.

In Spanish, the videos feature Bishop Jorge Rodriguez, auxiliary bishop of Denver, Msgr. de los Santos, pastor of Our Lady Mother of Church in Commerce City, Father Benito Hernandez, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Father Mauricio Bermudez, parochial vicar at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Aurora, and Father Mario Ramirez, parochial vicar of Ascension Parish in Denver.

Below are the dates the preparation material will be released with a brief description of the theme of that day.

The simplicity of Mary
September 21

Mary lived a quiet life in Nazareth with Joseph and Jesus, doing God’s will in her daily duties as a wife and mother. She is blessed among all women, yet in her life she was mostly quiet and hidden.

Scripture: Luke 1:39-56 (The Visitation)
Prayer: The Magnificat
Quote: “Mary attributes nothing to her own merits. She refers all her greatness to the gift of the one whose essence is power and whose nature is greatness, for he fills with greatness and strength the small and the weak who believe in him.” -Saint Bede the Venerable

Marian Moment #1: The Simplicity of Mary

Abandonment to the will of God
September 26

This is a quality best portrayed in the Annunciation, where Mary completely accepts God’s will for her life and whatever it meant for her. When she said, “Yes,” she became the vessel of the Savior of the world.

Scripture: Luke 1:26-38 (The Annunciation)
Prayer: The Angelus
Quote: “You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.” -Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Marian Moment #2: Abandonment to the will of God

Mary’s love for the Cross
September 28

At the Presentation, Simeon told her that a sword would pierce her heart also. When Jesus’ side was pierced, that act pierced her heart as she watched. Mary accompanied Jesus in his life, and in his death.

Scripture: Luke 2: 22-38 (The Presentation)
Prayer: Hail, Holy Queen
Quote: “The Mother of God, the most pure Virgin, carried the true light in her arms and brought him to those who lay in darkness. We too should carry a light for all to see and reflect the radiance of the true light as we hasten to meet him.” -Saint Sophronius

Marian Moment #3: Mary’s love for the Cross

Mary’s love for souls
October 3
Mary loved souls and for that reason she is called “Queen of the Apostles.” Jesus gave her to us as Our Mother. Mary consented to Jesus’ death on the Cross because she loved us so much and knew his plan of salvation for us.

Scripture: John 19: 26-27
Prayer: Memorare
Quote: “With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you shall not be deceived; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection, you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal.” -Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Marian Moment #4: Mary’s love for souls

The Heart of Mary
October 5

The Immaculate Heart of Mary is overflowing with life and grace, and it is tender, inviting and beautiful. We should always go to Jesus through Mary, because this is the way Jesus ordained it.

Scripture: Luke 2:1-20 (Nativity of Jesus)
Prayer: Rosary
Quote: “God is the Father by whom all things were given life, and Mary the mother through whom all things were given new life. For God begot the Son, through whom all things were made, and Mary gave birth to him as the Savior of the world. Without God’s Son, nothing could exist; without Mary’s Son, nothing could be redeemed.” -Saint Anselm

Marian Moment #5: The heart of Mary

COMING UP: Navigating major cultural challenges

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We’re navigating through a true rock and a hard place right now: moral relativism and the oversaturation of technology. In fact, they are related. Moral relativism leaves us without a compass to discern the proper use of technology. And technological oversaturation leads to a decreased ability to think clearly about what matters most and how to achieve it.

Fortunately, we have some Odysseus-like heroes to guide our navigation. Edward Sri’s book Who Am I to Judge?: Responding to Relativism with Logic and Love (Augustine Institute, 2017) provides a practical guide for thinking through the moral life and how to communicate to others the truth in love. Christopher Blum and Joshua Hochschild take on the second challenge with their book A Mind at Peace: Reclaiming an Ordered Soul in the Age of Distraction (Sophia, 2017).

Sri’s book describes conversations that have become quite common. When discussing moral issues, we hear too often, “this is true for me,” “I feel this is right,” or “who am I to judge?” We are losing our ability both to think about and discuss moral problems in a coherent fashion. Morality has become an expression of individual and subjective feeling, rather than clear reasoning based on the truth. In fact, many, or even most, young people would say there is no clear truth when it comes to morality—the very definition of relativism.

Beyond this inability to reason clearly, Christians also face pressure to remain silent in the face of immoral action, shamed into a corner with the label of bigotry. In response to our moral crisis, Sri encourages us to learn more about our own great tradition of morality focused on virtue and happiness. He also provides excellent guidance on how to engage others in a loving conversation to help them consider that our actions relate not only to our own fulfillment, but to our relationships with others.

Sri points out that it’s hard to “win” an argument with relativists, because “relativistic tendencies are rooted in various assumptions they have absorbed from the culture an in habits of thinking and living they have formed over a lifetime” (13). Rather than “winning,” Sri advises us to accompany others through moral and spiritual growth with seven keys, described in the second half of the book. These keys help us to see others through the heart of Christ, with mercy, and to reframe discussions about morality, turning more toward love and addressing underlying wounds. Ultimately, he asks us, “will you be Jesus?” to those struggling with relativism. (155).

Blum and Hochschild’s book complements Sri’s by focusing on the virtues we need to address our cultural challenges. They point to another common concern we all face: a “crisis of attention” as our minds wander, preoccupied with social media (2). More positively, they encourage us to “be consoled” as “there are remedies” to help us “regain an ordered and peaceful mind, which thinks more clearly and attends more steadily” (ibid.). The path they point out can be found in a virtuous and ordered life guided by wisdom.

To achieve peace, we need virtues and other good habits, which create order within us. “With order, our attention is focused, directed, clear, trustworthy, and fruitful” (10). The book encourages us to rediscover fundamental realities of life, such as being attune to our senses and to aspire to higher and noble things. The authors, with the help of the saints, provide a guidebook to forming important dispositions to overcome the addiction and distraction that come with the omnipresence of media and technology.

The book’s chapters address topics such as self-awareness, steadfastness, resilience, watchfulness, creativity, purposefulness, and decisiveness.  These dispositions will create order in how we use our tools and within our inner faculties. They will help us to be more intentional in our action so that we do not succumb to passivity and distraction.  Overall, the book leads us to consider how we can rediscover simple and profound realities, such as a good conversation, periods of silence, and a rightly ordered imagination.

Both books help us to navigate our culture, equipping us to respond more intentionally to the interior and exterior challenges we face.