What does it mean to ‘have devotion to Mary’?
Posted: Mon, 25 May 2020 01:43
As we celebrate the feast of Mary Help of Christians, (transferred from 24 May this year, which falls on a Sunday), Fr Tony Fernandes SDB relects on the devotion to her that Don Bosco urged on us. (See the link below for details of the livestreamed Mass for the feast)
When we celebrate the Feast of Mary Help of Christians, what comes to my mind is simply that Mary, who was the first help to Jesus during his life here on earth, continues to be the same help to every one of His disciples right from the moment when Jesus, from the cross told his mother: "Woman, behold your son."
Through the course of the centuries, among those who experienced very deeply this help from the mother of Jesus, was St. John Bosco. When he was nine years of age, he had a dream in which he was entrusted with a flock, and when he asked how he was going to take care of them, he was told, "I will give you a helper…" From then on, he urged himself forward with the assurance of this 'help' and never looked back in bringing to fruition the Congregation of the Salesians of Don Bosco, whose main mission is to help young people.
Today, Don Bosco reminds us to have devotion to Mary Help of Christians and we will see what miracles are. Our natural, quick, and immediate tendency is to think that it is a miracle only when there is a cure from cancer or a similar disease. But we are forgetting that the challenging routine, that is the norm in these days of pandemic, requires a miracle of living our faith: trusting in God's abundant care for us and the help and protection of Mary.
Let us begin to look at what it means to 'have devotion to Mary'. Devotion is basically a lively and a joyful relationship, and any relationship could be experienced as having two stages. To understand this better, let us examine the relationship we have with our own mothers. There is a stage of dependency, which graduates to a stage of service. The first stage could be described as a stage of 'immaturity' and the second as a stage of maturity.
In the first stage, we are 'dependent', and we are always asking our mothers to meet our needs for various things. If this continues and does not move on to the next stage, we are in a way still dependent on our mothers; our relationship with our mother is still 'immature'. To put it in another understandable way: we are still hanging on to her apron strings. But, if we have moved to the next stage, service, then we will be seen assisting our mother, taking the initiative, and making her feel that we are now growing to be mature children. Otherwise, we will remain in the 'give me, give me' stage.
The same is true with our devotion or relationship with Mary, our Mother. If it remains only at the stage of dependency, that is, if we only seek her attention for favours, then our devotion is still at the immature stage. We need to be drawn to the stage of service. She tells us, "Do whatever He tells you," and then you will experience 'miracles'. Our 'water' of routine and dependency will be changed into the 'wine' of service and joy in abundance – six barrels of water turned into wine – life to the full.
When the restrictions on this pandemic will gradually ease down, what will be the focus of our attention? We have been looking and making plans at how to get ourselves 'out there' once more. Yes, of course, why not? We will make sure that whatever it is, the outcome will be life-giving service and thanksgiving.
Fr Tony Fernandes SDB