Mary, Our Blessed Mother
Mary as the blessed mother of our Church is one of the most unique jewels. Mary is both Mother and model of the Church. As Mother of Jesus she is also Mother of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. As Mary nurtured Jesus, so too, her work continues in heaven to nurture us – his brothers and sisters. Mary helps us appreciate the true nature of Jesus, human and divine.
Mary’s role in the plan of salvation is unique and helps us to see how God can use simplicity and nothingness to do great things. Mary’s saintly virtues should inspire us to practice the virtues of prayer, contemplation, selflessness and obedience. Mary always puts us into a deep relationship with her Son.
The rosary is Mary’s special prayer. By daily recitation and meditation on these mysteries of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus we begin to enter into these mysteries.
The Saints are our older brothers and sisters who have lived before us. They provide us with examples of people who lived under the grace of God and practised virtuous living for the sake of the Kingdom. The lives of the saints should help us with our own struggles.
Novenas to various saints and the saint names that we carry are very good ways to reflect on the lives of saints. This practice also allows us the experience of the communion of saints and the life of being with God in eternity.
It is very important to introduce our children to the lives of the saints from a very young age. Children today lack good role models and introducing them to the Saints is a good way of holding up excellent role models. By exposure to the lives of the saints and through their powerful intercession many lives have been converted.
Going on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to a European Marian Shrine, such as Fatima (Portugal), Lourdes (France) or Knock (Ireland) or to Rome; and more recently to Betania in Venezuela or Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico is a desire of many a Catholic. But there are many local pilgrimages the Catholic faithful participate in, the most popular being the pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Laventille (every month between May and October) and to La Divina Pastora in Siparia (every month between November and April). Pilgrimages also take the form of visits to several churches by means of bus transport. A Catholic pilgrimage can be done for special intentions, for penance, to practice devotion and to unite people of every nationality, culture, creed and race. Whatever the form it takes pilgrimages hold a special place in the heart of a Catholic person.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is one of the most popular and revered practices within our Church. During this time the special presence of Jesus – in the form of the consecrated host – is exposed for the faithful to venerate. In our Archdiocese, Archbishop Emeritus, Edward J Gilbert encouraged parish communities to organise that for at least three hours on a Friday churches and chapels should remain open for Eucharistic adoration. In some parish churches there is a perpetual adoration chapel where people can go at anytime.
The practice of adoration helps us to come into an intimate relationship with Jesus. Many people testify to having powerful personal experiences during this time. It is a way for us to come apart and be with Jesus. This is a powerful time of grace.
Prayer of the Church
The Liturgy of the Hours/the Morning and Evening Prayer of the Church unites us with Catholics praying around the world. Imagine millions of Catholics around the world praying the Benedictus and the Magnificat. What a wonderful experience to be part of this great praise to God!
We need to seek to educate ourselves on the jewels of our faith so that we can practice them and treasure them. This will help us in our relationship with God through Jesus and one another as we strive to build a Catholic Culture and Identity.
Bernadette Gopaul-Ramkhalawan, VCC/CERO South/Central Archdiocesan Catechetical Office