Faith, Prayer, and the Example of Mary

mother-maryFaith leads us into prayer and prayer leads us into God. When the Holy Spirit descends upon us in baptism and confirmation the light of faith is turned on within us.  It is renewed and brightened every time we are present for the epiclesis in Liturgy, share in the Eucharist, and sincerely seek God in prayer.  Prayer leads us into the light of Christ who desires our union with Him in eternity.  This is why prayer is profoundly important to a vital Christian life and, perhaps, this is why Pope Francis ended Lumen Fidei with a prayer about faith:

Mother, help our faith!

Open our ears to hear God’s word and to recognize his voice and call.

Awaken in us a desire to follow in his footsteps, to go forth from our own land and to receive his promise.

Help us to be touched by his love, that we may touch him in faith.

Help us to entrust ourselves fully to him and to believe in his love, especially at times of trial, beneath the shadow of the cross, when our faith is called to mature.

Sow in our faith the joy of the Risen One.

Remind us that those who believe are never alone.

Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus, that he may be light for our path. And may this light of faith always increase in us, until the dawn of that undying day which is Christ himself, your Son, our Lord! (Lumen Fidei #60).

Notice what Pope Francis is asking us here: to invoke Mary as an intercessor and exemplar in faith by exclaiming, “Mother, help our faith!”  In many ways we can imagine that this is both a cry for help and an exuberant utterance that is pregnant with the desire to have Christ incarnate within us.  And this is a point not be missed or understated: Mary’s faith gave birth to the incarnation and the Church, which she accompanied from the very first days of Jesus’ ascension.  The Pope explains Mary’s faith in this way:

[…] Mary’s true motherhood […] ensured for the Son of God an authentic human history, true flesh in which he would die on the cross and rise from the dead. Mary would accompany Jesus to the cross (cf.  Jn 19:25), whence her motherhood would extend to each of his disciples (cf. Jn 19:26-27). She will also be present in the upper room after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, joining the apostles in imploring the gift of the Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14).  (Lumen Fidei #59)

The lesson here is that we are called to live as Mary lived.  In other words, this prayer reminds us that we need prayer to teach us to trust in God.  We need prayer to help us remember we are not alone in our faith journey.  We need prayer to help us focus our life on Christ.  Finally, we need prayer to focus our lives on union with God, which is the only real goal of our existence.

So, during this Year of Faith, ask yourself: am I praying enough?  Do I recognize Mary has the example of Christian faith?  Am I as open to God as she was?  Do I accept the call of God in my life? Am I seeking union with God for all eternity?

Let us pray for one another that we may live our lives illumined by faith.

Thomas Colyandro is a professor for Catholic Distance University and the author of two books, including: The Judas Syndrome: Seven Ancient Heresies Return to Betray Christ Anew. He is completing a certificate from the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies at Cambridge University, and already holds masters’ degrees in divinity and theology from the University of St. Thomas School of Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston, Texas, a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, and a certificate from the Harvard-MIT Public Disputes Program.