April 26, 2024

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Let Mary help to lead you into the spiritual depths of family life

Sean GallagherMay is a month traditionally dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Church.

May this year can be a good time for us to reflect prayerfully on how Mary can help families enter more fully into the profound life of grace and mission to which God has called them.

That’s because so much of who we know Mary to be is woven into family relationships. Christ on the cross gave her to us as our spiritual mother. She is the mother of Christ according to the flesh, and has a special relationship with our heavenly Father.

Each day, the Church prays in Evening Prayer in its Liturgy of the Hours the most words we have from Mary spoken at one time. It’s her song of praise that came forth from her heart when she visited her kinswoman Elizabeth (Lk 1:46-55). Catholic tradition calls it her “Magnificat” after the first word in the Latin rendering of the canticle.

Reflecting on what Mary, inspired by the Holy Spirit, said in her Magnificat is a way she can lead families more into the spiritual depths of their shared daily life.

Just take that first famous line of her canticle: “My soul magnifies the greatness of the Lord” (Lk 1:46). The mystery of those words jumps off the page. How can any limited human being, even one as great as Mary, “magnify” the infinite greatness of God?

Objectively speaking, they cannot. But our subjective appreciation of it can certainly grow. Even though she was conceived without original sin and was full of grace, Mary’s encounter with the archangel Gabriel surely increased her awareness of the infinite greatness of God in the midst of her ordinary daily life.

And she sung her song of praise in another ordinary moment when she was greeted by Elizabeth upon arriving at her home in the hill country of Judea.

Catholic parents and children can, like Mary, magnify the greatness of the Lord when, through the eyes of faith, they see revealed before them the wondrous and yet also ordinary ways he works in the midst of their daily lives.

Mary in her Magnificat speaks of God working through various generations. “From this day all generations will call me blessed” (Lk 1:48). “He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation” (Lk 1:50). “He has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever” (Lk 1:55).

God lets his grace flow through members of Catholic families to each other to strengthen each person’s faith so that they can better see how much he loves them and works in their lives. These channels of grace can be especially effective between different generations.

Parents, of course, have the duty to form their children in the faith. But parents learn quickly how their faith can be deepened by their children. After all, Jesus taught us that “unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3).

And reflecting on how God works through the generations would not be complete without a grateful mention of how his grace flows abundantly through grandparents to the two generations that follow them—their children and grandchildren.

Mary keeps all families close to her heart and prays for them always. Let’s grow in our love for her this May and let her help us to magnify the greatness of the Lord. †

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