Over the past few decades, the Blessed Mother has played a huge role in my life. She is calling me, as she is calling you, to holiness. I believe strongly, in this time of healthcare crisis and social unrest, our spiritual mother is calling us to come to her in a special way.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of the Americas and patroness of the Diocese of Orange, California, where I live and minister, is saying to us in the midst of this troubled time the words she spoke to Juan Diego, “Do not be distressed, my littlest son. Am I not here with you who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection?”
Do we believe that the Blessed Mother can do miracles in our lives through her son Jesus? Is she your spiritual mother? Is she an integral part of your faith life?
In the Gospel of John, the Blessed Mother appears two times. The first time, she is concerned about the marriage at Cana and the running out of wine. I believe that she is always protecting and interceding for marriages and families! I believe she is now protecting our families as we call upon her help and protection against the Coronavirus and violence in our streets. She turned to Jesus at Cana and told Him that they had run out of wine. His response seemed to be negative at first, but she was undaunted and told the waiters to do whatever Jesus told them to do. The result was the miracle at Cana.
The second appearance of Mary in the Gospel of John appears at the foot of the Cross. It is there that we receive the divine truth from Jesus hanging on His Cross: “Behold your Mother.” We are also told that we are her sons and daughters. Our spiritual mother stands and watches us, interceding as we go through our own cross. Indeed, this pandemic and violence in society is a cross that seems difficult to bear at times. She is our mother, ever vigilant; always there for us, loving, watching, interceding, guiding and leading us to her Son Jesus.
In this time of trial, let us turn to her Immaculate Heart and let her transform our hearts into ones of love, peace and joy! There are four key points to help us open our hearts to Mary’s love.
FOUR KEY POINTS
Faith. Everything about Mary is focused on faith. We see in the letter to the Hebrews in the 11th chapter, verse one, that faith is the “realization of what is hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” Later, in verse six, we see the importance of faith: “it is impossible to please God without faith and he rewards those who believe he exists and seek him.”
The Blessed Mother is the personification of modeling faith! When the angel Gabriel appeared to her as depicted in Luke chapter one, she questioned how it would happen but never doubted that it would occur. She answered: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
When the angel Gabriel told Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was in her sixth month she had faith to go visit her. I have had six pilgrimages to the Holy Land and I can assure you it is a long distance from Nazareth to Ein Karem where Elizabeth and Zechariah lived. She would have had to travel over barren desert and hills where there were many robbers. Mary was young and pregnant and yet had faith and believed that she would find Elizabeth with child who was once barren.
It was through the faith that Mary had that she heard Elizabeth proclaim, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” and, “blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
Think of what Elizabeth was saying. It was the faith of Mary that made her “blessed among women.” It was her faith that had her say her famous Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55, “And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord …”)
Turn to Luke and read this famous Scripture. Every word in this personifies faith, faith in God and faith in her future! It is her faith that is the reason why the Blessed Mother is often at the center of healing. We see that at Lourdes, Fatima and many other places where she has appeared. Mary is interceding for us through her son Jesus and asking for Jesus for healing.
Surrender. We know that in all Mary’s appearances throughout the world she is asking us to surrender our hearts to Jesus. In her third appearance at Fatima she told the children, “Sacrifice yourself for sinners, and say many times, especially whenever you make some sacrifice, ‘O my Jesus, it is for the love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.’” Mary taught us at Fatima to ask for forgiveness and to intercede for the world, “O my Jesus, forgive our sins, save us from the fire of hell, take all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of Your mercy.”
It is so very important that we surrender our fear and our anxiety over COVID-19 and violence in society and trust in Jesus. Jesus, I trust in you.
Peace. Mary is the Queen of Peace. Everywhere where Mary has appeared she constantly urges peace. This peace is peace in our hearts, peace in the world, and to receive the peace that only Jesus can bring.
At Fatima, peace was a substantial part of Mary’s message. She spoke to the children often and urged them to pray for peace. This was especially important since it came during World War I. Through her words to the children we were told to do penance and ask God for peace. Peace was absolutely essential for the world and us. She was asking us to go to her son Jesus to receive the peace that only He can bring: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” John 14:27
Hope is a critical part of the message from Mary. It is hope that has to get us through this time of trial. God is the God of hope. Think about where we are in the current state of affairs. We don’t know the future and how bad things are going to get with the COVID-19 epidemic and discord in society. But this is what we do know: Jesus is our Protector, our Shield and our Defender.
My brother and sisters, let the Blessed Mother into your prayer lives and let Jesus become your Lord and Savior. At the end of the day this is the most important decision you can make and will protect you in ways we won’t fully understand until we are with Him in heaven!
Deacon Steve Greco is author of Be Not Afraid, a 2020 book about facing the pandemic with faith, not fear, available through his Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry website, www.spiritfilledhearts.org.