The National Black Catholic Congress, Inc.
THE IMPORTANCE OF MARIAN DEVOTION
WRITTEN BY FR. RON GAGNÉ, M.S.
La Salette Communications Center
As we are reminded during the Advent and Christmas seasons, “Jesus is the reason for the season.”
Simply put, without Jesus we have no New Testament, no Christian Church, no Christian faith. Understanding this, then what is the proper place of Marian devotion and piety in the Church? Why is it important and how can it strengthen our faith?
Pope John Paul II, in the introduction to the Vatican’s 2001 Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy: Principles and Guidelines, explains that “Popular piety is an expression of faith which avails of certain cultural elements proper to a specific environment… Genuine forms of popular piety, expressed in a multitude of different ways, derives from the faith and, therefore, must be valued and promoted. Such authentic expressions of popular piety… predispose the people for the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries.” Indeed, popular piety is seen as “a true treasure of the People of God” (Directory, #59).
The Directory, in chapter five, discusses extensively “the veneration of the Holy Mother of God, which occupies a singular position both in the Liturgy and popular devotion”. Let us take a brief glance at the history of Marian devotion over the centuries in order to better understand what Pope John Paul II has stated.
The Roots of Marian Devotion
The Scriptures show Mary’s role in the mystery of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. She is involved intimately in the most important events of Christ’s life. She is blessed in her maternity, as shown in the Annunciation and Nativity. In the Gospel of John she is the model of the believing Church. John also shows her at the foot of the cross where Jesus gives Mary to the Church as mother of all believers (Jn. 19:26).
As the Church’s understanding of Jesus deepened, appreciation of Mary’s importance place also grew. The Fathers of the Church wrote about Mary as the “new Eve,” associated with Christ the “new Adam” (Sts. Justin and Irenaeus). She is referred to as “mother of the living,” and, ﬁnally, at the Council of Ephesus (431 AD), she is spoken of dogmatically as the “God-bearer,” mother of Jesus-both-human-and-divine. After this most signiﬁcant event, Marian feast days proliferated in both the East and the West.
During the Middle Ages, Marian devotion celebrated her role as heavenly queen, spiritual mother and all-powerful intercessor. The prayer, Hail Mary, attained its current form only in the 15th Century, in connection with the Psalter of Mary or the rosary.
Consecration to Jesus Christ through Mary was in practice by the 18th Century. Many missionary orders founded during the past two centuries gave prominence to Mary’s role in their apostolate. This is evident in the names of many of the communities. During the same period, Marian devotion ﬂowered due to the great apparitions: La Salette (1846) and Lourdes (1858), both in France; Knock (1879) in Ireland; and Fatima (1917) in Portugal.
The Popes of the 20th Century have consistently encouraged devotion to Mary and deﬁned the dogmas of her Immaculate Conception and her Assumption. Pius XII in his encyclical on the Sacred Liturgy, Mediator Dei (1947) declared that Marian devotion should respect the central place of liturgical prayer and Eucharistic celebrations. This was reiterated in the concluding chapter of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church from Vatican Council II in 1964, placing Mary within the fabric of the mystery of Christ and the Church.
Pope Paul VI’s Apostolic Exhortation, Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary (Marialis Cultus), insured that Church renewal would continue to encourage new or renewed ways of expressing devotion to Mary. His words are straightforward. Mary is “a teacher of the spiritual life for individual Christians” (MC #20), and always holds “the highest place and the closest to us after Christ” (MC #28).
The proclamation of the Marian Year (1988–1989) by Pope John Paul II expressed his desire “to promote a new and more careful reading of what the Council said about the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the mystery of Christ and of the Church.” His emphasis on the proper place of “authentic ‘Marian spirituality,’ seen in the light of Tradition” came from his own deep devotion to Mary, the Mother of God (Redemptoris Mater, 48).
Mary – A Woman Immersed in Daily Life
This rich heritage has deepened our appreciation of the role of Mary in our life as believers. We have come to know her as a woman fully immersed in the concerns of daily life and who met the challenges presented there with a deep and lively faith.
She is both the mother of our Savior and an altogether human woman who was painfully misunderstood by the man she loved; who was confused by her child’s behavior; who was not afraid to speak her mind or voice her questions; who stood by courageously while her Son was executed; who was present at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the new Church; and who, indeed, had a role of leadership in that Church.
Renewal of Popular Piety
In continuing to foster devotion to Mary, certain principles should be kept in mind. Number 12 of the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy states:
“Popular piety should be permeated by: a biblical spirit, since it is impossible to imagine a Christian prayer without direct or indirect reference to Sacred Scripture; a liturgical spirit if it is to dispose properly for or echo the mysteries celebrated in the liturgical actions; an ecumenical spirit, in consideration of the sensibilities and traditions of other Christians without, however, being restricted by inappropriate inhibitions; an anthropological spirit which both conserves symbols and expressions of importance or significance for a given nation while eschewing senseless archaicisms, and which strives to dialogue in terms redolent with contemporary sensibility. To be successful, such a renewal must be imbued with a pedagogical awareness and realized gradually, always taking into consideration time and particular circumstances” (#12).
Download the pdf version of this brochure to help you learn to pray the rosary.
How to Pray the Rosary
THE ROSARYis a certain form of vocal and mental prayer on the Mysteries of our redemption. It is composed of five Decades. Each Decade consists of the Our Father, ten Hail Marys and The Glory Be. During each Decade, meditate on the Mystery prescribed for that day for each Decade of the rosary.
Mondays and Thursdays (Sundays of Advent and after Epiphany until Lent.), meditate on the Joyful Mysteries. These are The Annunciation of Mary, The Visitation of the Angel to Mary, The Nativity of Christ, The Presentation of Christ in the Temple, and Finding Christ in the Temple.
Tuesdays and Fridays, meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries. These are The Agony of Jesus in the Garden, The Scourging of Jesus, The Crowning of Jesus with Thorns, Jesus Carrying the Cross, and The Crucifixion.
Wednesdays and Saturdays, meditate on the Glorious Mysteries. These are The Resurrection of Jesus, The Ascension of Jesus, The Descent of the Holy Ghost, The Assumption of Mary, and The Coronation.
Begin with the crucifix - "IN the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."
"I BELIEVE in God, The Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified; died, and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen."
Then on the first bead - "OUR FATHER, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name: Thy kingdom come: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread: and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Then on the next three beads - "HAIL MARY, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women and blessed in the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
On the fifth bead - "GLORY BE to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Before the first Decade - recite the commemoration of the first
mystery. Pray one OUR FATHER.
Then on the next 10 beads - recite the HAIL MARY. After the ten Hail Marys, recite the GLORY BE.
At the next bead - recite the commemoration of the second mystery. Repeat for the next three decades.
Complete the rosary on the centerpiece by praying:
"HAIL, HOLY QUEEN, Mother of Mercy! our life, our sweetness, and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley, of tears. Turn, then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us; and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus; O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary."
Recite one OUR FATHER, one HAIL MARY, and one GLORY BE. End "IN the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen"
Artwork by Anthony VanArsdale for the National Black Catholic Congress
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This Is the Most Complete List of Marian Apparitions
Always as our Mother and our Savior's mother, Mary has appeared under many titles to many diverse peoples in different periods of history. She suffered a sword piercing her heart as she watched her son's Passion and Death, and she is constantly alert to even our smallest sufferings. Our Blessed Mother comes to us when we need her most, with a message and guidance specific to the problems and suffering at hand. Here are 40 beautiful stories of Marian apparitions in countries all over the world to inspire you and remind you of the eternal compassion and counsel which she unceasingly offers to us.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico
St. Juan Diego encountered Mary as he climbed the Hill of Tepeyac in Mexico during a routine walk in 1531. She identified herself as the Virgin Mary, the “mother of the very true deity” and requested that a chapel be built on the Hill in her honor. After two unsuccessful attempts to convince his bishop, St. Juan Diego explained to Our Lady that he needed to bring a specific sign in order to verify the validity of his vision.
Once St. Juan opened his cloak to the bishop, a cascade of roses fell from his tilma, revealing the ornate details of the miraculous and mysterious image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. To this day, the tilma remains in excellent condition, and Our Lady of Guadalupe is invoked by thousands of faithful all over the world.
The Mysteries of the Rosary
Joyful Mystery of the Rosary
Monday & Saturday
The Annunciation of the Lord to Mary
The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth
The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ
The Presentation of our Lord
Finding Jesus in the Temple at age 12
Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary
Tuesday & Friday
The Agony of Jesus in the Garden
The Scourging at the Pillar
Jesus is Crowned with Thorns
Jesus Carried the Cross
The Crucifixion of our Lord
Glorious Mystery of the Rosary
Wednesday & Sunday
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
The Ascension of Jesus to Heaven
The Descent of the Holy Ghost
The Assumption of Mary into Heaven
Mary is Crowned as Queen of Heaven and Earth
Luminous Mystery of the Rosary
The Baptism in the Jordan
The Wedding at Cana
The Proclamation of the Kingdom
The Institution of the Eucharist