Tag Archives: conversion

Praying to the Mother of God

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series From Now On a Catholic, Always a Protestant

In my first days of being high on my love for Catholicism, I couldn’t get enough of it. I wanted it in my hands and inside my being; I needed it to consume me and I needed to consume it. A fierce love was brewing.

It was about this time in November, two years ago, that I let my novice show, and I Googled shops in Portland  that carried rosaries. Once the address was on the screen of my phone, I went to a shop in the Hawthorne area, and let the wonder of the Rosary fall into my hands for the first time.

I knelt down by the case on the floor and looked at a collection of colorful beads strung with intention and sealed with a crucifix. I’ll admit that I did speculate about where these rosaries had come from (I could tell some of them were used). I considered whether or not they might have been cursed or if maybe the one with the maroon beads was once held in the hands of a devout, dying old woman.

I settled on a Rosary with black beads, mainly because the crucifix was detailed in such a way that it pulled on my soul strings. I made my way to the cash register, but not before I also added two statues of Mary into my arms.

This woman, this mother of God, whom I had heard about all my life, but had never known, was waiting for me. Mary was waiting for me to call her my mother, and I didn’t know how to do that properly, but I was going to try.

I didn’t know how to pray a Rosary, I didn’t know what it would feel like or what would happen, but several nights after I bought it, I sat on the couch and I whispered the prayers. The Glory Be, Our Father, and Hail Mary edged out of my lips, clumsy and unfamiliar, and a kind of warmth enveloped me. It was an embrace, but unlike one I had ever known; it was the first time I allowed myself to be held by Mama Mary, the same woman who held my Savior in her womb and in her arms.

And oh, how she held me.

I’ll never forget that night, the slow tears that fell on my face, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. 

I’ve learned a lot about Mary and the Rosary since the first time I held those beads in my hand, and gave myself up to be taken to a holy place of prayer and reverence.  The communion with Jesus and Mary has grown sweeter as I’ve embraced fulfilling the prophecy in Luke 1:48, “For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.” Every time I pray the Rosary, the richness of the Gospel is amplified. There are roughly twenty mysteries of the Rosary in which additional Scripture is incorporated and used for meditation, and I haven’t even explored all of them yet.

As I pray to her, which is to say that I ask her to intercede for me, she lays my petitions before her Son along with me. I pray to her because why wouldn’t I want the Mother of Jesus, the woman who physically became the ark of the new covenant, to intercede for me? I can’t think of one reason why not.  

Pope John Paul II said of the Rosary, “It is an echo of the prayer of Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the incarnation which began in her virginal womb. With the Rosary, the Christian people sit at the school of Mary, led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depth of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the mother of the Redeemer.”

While, I find John Paul’s words true and accurate to my own experience, others would vehemently disagree with Catholic teachings about the Mary. Some might say that I may go to hell for praying to her. Others, not quite willing to say I will go to hell, will at least say that praying to Mary is a gross act of idolatry. Some have asked, why go to Mary when you can go to Jesus?

The short answer to those who may be critical of my prayers to Mary is this: She points me to Jesus.

Mary is for all God’s children, and although many Christian traditions do not venerate her as the Catholic Church does, it does not mean she is any less a supernatural mother to all. In Scripture, when Jesus is dying on the cross, he says to his beloved disciple (which I believe includes you and me too), “Behold, your mother” (John 19:27). I’ve claimed those words with such devotion that I find it hard put into words exactly what it feels like; it’s a beautiful, divine experience.

{This post only touches the surface of Mary and the Rosary, so please offer up any thoughts or questions you have, and let’s talk more in the comments. Thanks for reading.}