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Can Mary teach us to pray perfectly?


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Fr Robert McTeigue, SJ - published on 08/08/18

How to say, "Jesus, I trust in you!" like his Mother

How many times have you seen in paintings, on banners, on greeting cards, and at the base of statues, these words: “Jesus, I trust in you!”

Do you know what these words mean? Do you know how to live these words consistently? If you’re like me, you probably don’t know fully what those words mean, or how to live them. So, what shall we do about that?

It must be true that the person who can be for us the best teacher and exemplar of the words, “Jesus, I trust in you!” is Our Blessed Mother, Mary. Her sinless “Fiat!” in response to the Annunciation, spoken from an undivided and immaculate heart, spoken with the clarity of a human intelligence undiminished by sin and error, resulted in a union and intimacy with Christ that is complete in a way that a thousand lifetimes of contemplation could not fully explore, much less understand. Remember that St. Bernard of Clairvaux said of her, “de Maria numquam satis” (“Concerning Mary there can never be said enough!”). Nonetheless, great saints have insisted that if we desire union with Christ, if we desire to be conformed to Christ in body and soul, then we can make progress only to the degree that we place ourselves under Mary’s tutelage.


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St. Francis de Sales teaches: “Various sacred lovers were present at the death of the Savior. Among them, those having the greatest sorrow, for love was then deeply plunged into sorrow and sorrow into love. All those who were filled with loving passion for their Savior were in love with His passion and sorrow. But His sweet Mother, who loved Him more than all others, was more than all others pierced through the Mother’s heart, for that Mother’s heart was fastened, joined, and united to her Son in so perfect a union that nothing could wound the one without inflicting the keenest torture upon the other … Mary not only sought no cure for its wound, but loved that wound more than any cure and dearly guarded the shafts of sorrow she had received because of the love that had sped them into her heart. Continually she desired to die for them, since her Son died of them.”

Think of it! Just as Jesus did not withhold himself from the cross, for love of us, so too Mary did not withhold herself from the cross—for love of those for whom her son died—her union with him at the cross is a perfect icon of the declaration, “Jesus, I trust in you!” We can do no less. Indeed, we must do more. Jesus and Mary did not need the cross but chose it for love—we sinners must choose the cross because we need it. The aptly-named St. John of the Cross reminds us “… that there is no way to be kindled in that flame of love except through the wood of the Cross. For us who, unlike Mary, have been touched by sin, that cross we bear is not only His but our own.” To save sinners, Jesus and Mary chose to be sacrificial and saving love—revealed on the cross. We sinners must our cross and his if we are to be saved. In our way as sinners, we must echo what Mary spoke first: “Jesus, I trust in you!”

Mary, in union with Christ, is unimaginably fruitful. Having shared fully in his cross, she shares in his victory and his saving work. Scholarly poet John Senior wrote: “Among Our Blessed Mother’s many greatest prerogatives is Hope–she is our life, our sweetness and our Hope. And even now, as once in the darkness of Egypt, when the Hebrew families painted their houses with the sacrificial blood of lambs, she is moving by the doorposts of our hearts, painting them with the Precious Blood of her Son … Mary’s love is first of all directed to her priests, who are of first importance because in a sense the Eucharist is the Church itself, and the priest its indispensable instrument; but secondarily her love includes religious and laity who assist at the Sacrifice; and even the least among us, troubled by sins and failures, will share this splendid moment in the history of the Church because not only His sheep but her goats are called–for whom, if we love her, somehow, anyhow, in a corner, a marvelous Child will fall out of the sky and she will make us subject, subdue us, to His will despite the Darkness of Egypt and the darkness in ourselves.”

In our times, dark storms rage in the world and against the Church. We need more than wishful thinking; we must imitate Our Blessed Mother as she prays perfectly, “Jesus, I trust in you!”

When I write next, I will offer a meditation on the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven, and ask, “Did Mary die?” Until then, let’s keep each other in prayer.

Virgin Mary
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