Have you ever been to a movie by yourself on purpose? I have once. It was to see Wonder Woman. As it started, I remember thinking that Our Lady was there with me. That I wasn’t alone. As weird or silly as it may sound, it was very real. If you’ve ever thought, “Mary seems so vague and mysterious” or “what’s the point of a relationship with her? I still don’t get it…” then I can relate to how you’re feeling. Those thoughts have taken me on a journey of seeing how much Our Lady pursues us despite our own misgivings.
Wonder Woman reveals so many different facets of the Blessed Virgin. (Granted, there are a couple scenes that don’t depict Our Lady and her purity. This is where we use the wheat and weeds approach: claim the wheat, call out the weeds, toss them, and move on wheat in hands). Do you remember the ending scene where Diana faces the evil chemist, Dr. Maru and how the doctor’s mask comes off? In this scene, we see the great capacity of women. The great capacity for goodness, life-giving action, sacrifice, and authentic love. These virtues ultimately make a person beautiful in the truest sense.
Do we know the burning, beating, Immaculate Heart of Mary? She is very real. Hopefully, the immaculate part isn’t so intimidating that we shy away. She wouldn’t want that. More than intimidating and icons and statutes, she’s a real woman with a real body and beating heart. Do you recognize her humanity? The burning, beating heart of a woman who is on your team?
Sr. Mary Gabriel, SV said this year at the Given Institute,
“The Blessed Mother’s vocation includes being your mother. She takes her motherhood of you as seriously as she takes her motherhood of Jesus. God gave her that as part of her vocation and she says ‘yes.’ You are a part of her vocation.”
An unrepeatable part. Take a moment to let the quote settle… this is a wild reality. Do you want that? Do you want her to be your mom? Maybe your understanding of motherhood isn’t so lovely. Maybe it needs to be redeemed. Mary not only has all the virtues, but she’s the mother of your dreams. Kind, gentle, lively, fun, free, responsible, trusting, trustworthy, wise. Another sister at Given said smiling, “God isn’t just the best dad, he’s the Father of your dreams.” (That statement alone could be pondered forever). And the Father of your dreams also gave you the Mother of your dreams.
We have the Mother of our dreams. She truly wants to be. So, how can we let her be? How can we know her better? She and I are getting there—our relationship ebbs and flows.
Below are 5 ideas to develop and deepen your relationship with our Blessed Mother.
Communion: As I walk to receive Holy Communion, I often pray a Hail Mary, and after receiving, I ask the Blessed Virgin to be with me and receive her Son, too. Lately, I’ve been more persistent in fighting distractions after receiving Jesus. I’ve noticed my thanksgiving after Communion is expanding— imaginative prayer will happen, and I’ll see Jesus coming into the house of my heart. Maybe we talk or just rest awhile. I believe Our Lady is assisting with this. She is the first living tabernacle of the body of Christ and She is leading me to her Son.
Style: It’s fair to venture that the Queen of Heaven has excellent style and eye for design. No idea when it started, but when I get ready for a special event (interview, ministry gig, date), I’ve made the habit of asking Mary to help me choose an outfit. I want my appearance to be tasteful, lovely and not distracting and she reminds me to seek authentic beauty rather than what’s artificial, as Saint John Paul II discusses in his Letter to Artists.
The Mantle: I have this soft, long, royal blue sweater. On Marian feast days and if I particularly need to experience her mantle of protection, I make a point to wear it. We are wise to let the visible, material world lead us to the invisible, spiritual world. It helps us remember the reality and makes her smile.
Movement + Rosary: The saints call the rosary so powerful that it is “the weapon.” Yet sometimes, it’s ridiculously hard to focus. If you relate, have you tried praying the rosary through movement? The Lord has been calling me into more movement in prayer this year, particularly through SoulCore. It’s a workout consisting of exercises and stretches while praying the rosary. We have specific poses – like for each Glory Be, we move into “surrender pose” which is kneeling, sitting back on tops of the feet, and forehead on the ground with palms up. Also, often in prayer, I adopt the Miraculous Medal posture of palms up, open arms, near my sides. Reorienting the body helps reorient the heart and whole self toward receptivity and surrender.
Saturdays are for Her: Are there friends you check-in with once a month (calls/texts/meme exchanges)? Maybe you do so with your closest friends 1-2x a week minimum. What if we did check-ins with Our Lady? A once a week goal to start if we don’t already? It can be as simple as saying hello and praying a sincere Hail Mary to receive her love better. Saturdays are a great option because in the Church we specifically honor her on Saturdays.
We can ask the Spirit to help us see how Our Lady is present in our lives. We are devoted to her because of her relationship to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and because God lifted her body and soul into Heaven! The burning, beating, Immaculate Heart of Mary longs to love and help us. If only we would let her.
The final question is: will you let her love and help you a bit more today?
SoulCore: SoulCore is a movement that pairs core strengthening, stretching and functional movement with the prayers of the rosary. There are live classes all over the country as well as an online studio (you can always get certified easily too!).
Behold: Visio Divina: – Visio Divina means holy seeing. Behold is a new program of prayer for women of all ages, backgrounds, and vocations, focusing on the theme of beauty and femininity. The program has the particular goal of leading women to Jesus through the feminine heart of Mary. It’s praying with sacred art, and Behold has content including little books to pray through the Joyful and Sorrowful Mysteries!
Marian Consecration: Marian consecration is the act of entrusting one’s body, soul, possessions, works, and entire life to the protection, guidance, and intercession of Our Lady. The first time I heard about Consecration to Jesus through Mary was from my youth minister, Katie Hartfiel. She and her husband are such proponents that they wrote their own MC book for teens! There are many versions of Marian Consecration like Fr. Michael Gaitley’s wildly popular 33 Days to Morning Glory. I’m long overdue for a renewal, and I’m committing to renew this Fall. I want to try Fr. Brian McMaster’s Totus Tuus one next.
Novena to the Immaculate Heart of Mary: This Novena to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is particularly appropriate to pray in the month of August, but it can be prayed at any time of the year when you have a special favor to ask of the Blessed Virgin.
Michaela Barta is a dancer, instructor, writer, speaker and lover of anything dark chocolate and Theology of the Body. She’s currently on her way to Pensacola, Florida to be with Greenhouse Collective. She spends her days trying to be moved and move others to love beauty, truth, and goodness. You can find more about her on Instagram.