This is more an invitation than an article for readers. Please speak your thoughts in comments below about how Mary, today, would teach us how to pray.
Imagine if it were possible – Our Lady herself teaches us how to pray. Consider an online class here at Catholic Lane:
Prayer 101 : Spring Semester 2018
Instructor: Adjunct Professor — Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother Of God
Text: Bible & Readings Of Several Church Fathers
Syllabus: This is an introductory course and will define prayer, trace the development of prayer since the Annunciation, and encourage students to themselves engage in prayer. As a final class project, each student will prepare a prayer and pray it for the class. The instructor has over two thousand years experience in prayer, beginning at a very young age, and is known worldwide as an expert in the field. She will commute from Heaven each week for these classes.
Course Credit Status: Infinite Hours; Pass – Fail
Sadly, we cannot sign up for such a course. We are, however, blest with what is in Holy Scripture about Mary, her very own prayer, Church tradition about Mary, and many writings of the Church Fathers.
Putting aside for the moment the debate about the origin of Mary’s prayer, whether or not she even said it, and accepting at least that its sentiments and feelings are those of Mary, there are some things about the prayer that provide insights into how Mary prayed.
The prayer has been called Mary’s “Magnificat,” from the latin word that means “magnify.” Other translations are “proclaim,” and “glories in.” The prayer begins with these words spoken to Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John the Baptist:
“My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.” (Luke 1: 47-49)
The remainder of the prayer is in the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel.
In addition to Mary’s words quoted above, other than these grateful, some worshipful, humble statements, the bulk of the prayer is about God, not Mary. Nowhere else in Holy Scripture does Mary speak at such length. We do not know, e.g., what she said, or prayed, or cried out at the foot of the Cross. So, there is much we can learn from her Magnificat about how to pray.
Now, back to the original question about the title above. We have Mary’s prayer and can pattern prayers on how she prayed, but what would she would say to us today?
I don’t know, but I did pose this question to three women: a mother and a grandmother, one a great grandmother, and to my own daughter, Elizabeth. Their responses were all strikingly similar in that they said that first she would not tell us anything (in my mind much as she may have responded when the Magi arrived at the stable in Bethlehem) – she would simply either point to her Son, or hand Him to us to hold; and, perhaps, say “Do what He tells you.”
What we would think and what we would say to the Christ Child would be how Mary would have us pray. Myself, I know I would begin speechless, and then, in sorrow, I would think how could I ever hurt this Child. And I would not want to hand Him back to His mother.
The “Lovely Lady” poem was a favorite of Blessed Fulton Sheen and there is an excerpt of one of his television shows about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lyId61fHIQ