Marian devotion draws us closer to Jesus

MARION—The month of May is dedicated to Mary and is a great time for Catholics to enhance their devotion to her and become closer to Christ in the process.

Father Lourdes Anthony led a spiritual retreat based on the Mother of Christ May 6-7 at the Church of the Infant Jesus Mission.

Father Anthony is a professor at St. Joseph’s Catholic Major Seminary in the Diocese of Yangon, Myanmar.

The priest said he has a lifelong devotion to Mary. Born prematurely, he became seriously ill as a toddler. His mother felt she received a message from Mary that helped her locate a doctor to treat him.

As a result, he was given the name Lourdes at his baptism in honor of Our Lady of Lourdes, and made Marian spirituality one of the main focuses of his entire life and priesthood.

Some of Father Anthony’s suggestions on how to enhance Marian devotion include:

Worship of Christ comes first

An understanding of Mary can only come after a person fully focuses on Christ and his role as our redeemer.

“We are never to leave out the role of Christ when we study Mary,” Father Anthony said. “Without Christ, Mary is just a simple lady from a town called Nazareth. Because of Christ, she became the God-bearer in our world. Without Christ, the role of Mary is impossible.”

Study Mary’s role in Scripture

A basic understanding of Mary, her life and obedience to God comes directly from studying her role in the Gospels.

Read about Mary, what her devotion means to the church

He strongly urges reading “Marialas Cultus,” a 1974 apostolic exhortation by Pope Paul VI which outlines the right way to develop a devotion to Mary. Father Anthony also encourages study of Mary’s role in the sacraments and the liturgy by reading “Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Sacramentary.” Another idea is to explore Marian prayers and spirituality through devotionals and monthly publications such as “Magnificat.”

Pray the rosary regularly

The “Hail Mary” and the rosary are the purest and best ways to develop a spiritual relationship to Mary, given to us by the church, Father Anthony said.

“The Hail Mary is the perfect prayer for Mary,” he said.

The rosary is not only a good way to develop devotion to Mary, but also to meditate on the life of Christ and her role in it.

“While we are praying the rosary, it is also a very Christo-centric prayer because the mysteries focus on all the aspects of the life of Jesus,” he said. “Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote in his encyclicals that praying the rosary is a time when we have to focus our minds and hearts on the mystery of God.”

Model your life after Mary’s example

Mary is the ideal example of someone who submits her personal will to the will of God in her life and the word of God, Father Anthony said. “She became a great woman because of her being with the word,” he said. “In order to become great Christians, to become like Mary, we must allow the word of God to dwell in us. We have to live our lives with the word of God at the center.”

Bring devotion into your home

Father Anthony recalled that his family and many other Catholics in his native country had home altars dedicated to Mary.

He encourages individuals and families to incorporate Marian prayers into their daily prayer at home, and to display statues or images of Mary.

Members of the Church of the Infant Jesus have been focusing on Mary this month with a series of events, including a novena to Our Lady of Fatima.