By Denise Scott
In the Catholic Church, the month of August is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. According to the Catholic News Agency website, “Honoring Mary’s Immaculate Heart is really just another way of honoring Mary as the person who was chosen to be the Mother of God.” It is believed that she is also recognised for her “extraordinary holiness and the immense love she bestowed on Jesus as his mother.”
As women, our love for our children is generally in abundance. Many times, we love our kids, their closest friends and all the people that they love too. So, in many ways, we can identify with the role of Mary in the Catholic Church.
But a recent survey I conducted of practising Catholic women in Trinidad and Tobago revealed that there is a huge struggle to pray to Mary by a younger generation of Catholic women.
In the survey, many Catholic women under the age of 45 confessed to struggling to understand the rationale behind such devotion to Mary.
Catholic women over the age of 60 display their strong, undeniable devotion to Mary and in many cases believing that they have passed that devotion to their kids. A quick survey of their children shows that in many cases, this has not happened.
I reached out to over 30 women and asked them about how they equip their children to understand about our devotion to Mary as mother and these were some of the honest sharing we received.
“I know what the Church teaches but I feel a little hypocritical about teaching it to my children because the more questions they ask, the more confused I become. Even though I grew up with a grandmother who was devoted to Mary and saying her rosary, I have to admit that it’s a part of my Catholicism that I am disconnected from.”
“Girl, I myself struggle with why the Catholic faith prays to Mary and the million saints we have, so I’m the worst candidate to ask. However, I still raise my boys up in the faith so when they are of age, they can form their own opinions as I am of the view, we all have to nurture and develop a personal relationship with God apart from just physically going to a church. Fatima has rosary nights weekly which we sometimes attend. I don’t let my own personal struggle regarding the Catholic faith impact on raising boys in the Catholic faith.”
“My children understand the importance that Mother Mary holds as Mother of Jesus and of the sanctity of the Immaculate Conception; so much so that when I am driving them to school in the morning, they instinctively recognise Mother Mary by praying Hail Mary. I think they also recognise that as a mother and their mother, I am the main one who stresses on prayer and the strength of praying to both Papa God and the Virgin Mother.”
“I’ve never treated my son’s awareness of Mary from the perspective of defence but, what I think is sufficient for them at this point (they are four and five years of age) is for me to focus on 1. the broad context of love and honour, just like they love and honour their own mummy, and 2. our belief that we can ask Mary to pray for us, just the same way they come to mummy to request of me to ask their daddy for something that they would like to have from him. So essentially my preference at this time is to teach in very simple ways about Mary’s intercessory power, while we, like our Blessed Mother, also pray to and worship our triune God.”
“Well first of all Mary is Jesus’ Mother and every mother loves her child. Just as she (Mary) will take care, protect, and guide us so too. We do not replace her with God but rather ask her to make intercession for us. Our children know that she protects us, and the rosary is the weapon against evil.”
“As a mother, I started praying the rosary with my children since they were very young, and they would become very distracted, but I would just try to stay focused. We would use this time to pray for whoever may need our prayers. So far, none of my four children have encountered any negativity because they know my devotion to Mary. I’ve been to Lourdes, France seven times on a pilgrimage, and once to Mexico and many other Marian shrines.”
As we journey through this month of August, let us pray for a greater understanding of the woman who was not only the Mother of God, but also the mother of the sons and daughters of God that have been redeemed through her Son.
It is believed the last great gift that Jesus gave to the Church before His death was the gift of Mary, His mother. Devotion to Mary leads to protection on our own spiritual mother. Like any mother she nourishes us, guides us, and protects us on our spiritual journey as she is constantly praying for all of us that we may become holy.