Without seeing it, one might think it’s a mere hodgepodge of structures. That couldn’t be further from the truth! It’s an aesthetically planned and purposeful array of ways to experience the glory of God and express love for his Mother Mary. It’s meant to be taken in slowly, gratefully, and on more than just one visit. Most remarkable is that it has all been accomplished entirely by volunteers and donors dedicated to turning a beautiful tract of land into a place to find peace, grace, and time with God and our Mother, Mary. (104)Countless men and women, Catholic and non-Catholic, gave their time, money, creativity, and physical strength to build this shrine. Together, they have created a peaceful, beautiful oasis so that others may come and rest with God and our Blessed Mother. As I reflected on this place of prayer discussed in Chapter 8, one realization continued to echo in my mind: Mary draws her children together. The sounds of my young children at play brings joy to my heart. As I hear them coo and squeal at each other, I am filled with gratitude that at this point in time, they are good friends. I’m guessing that many other mothers share my sentiment. It’s wonderful when our children love each other and get along, isn’t it? Mary is our heavenly mother, and I like to think that she looks fondly upon her children as they collaborate and grow closer to Christ. Imagine how delighted she must grow at seeing people collaborate to create the House of Mary Shrine! We are called to communion with God and with each other. As time goes on, I have slowly come to see how Mary helps strengthen our relationships and foster our unity. Over a decade ago, I followed the method laid out by St. Louis de Montfort to consecrate myself to Jesus, through the hands of Mary. The growth in my spiritual life was beautiful, and in the following years as I renewed my consecration, I continued to grow in my devotion to God and Mary. However, when I was in a serious relationship (and then became engaged), the man who is now my husband went through this process with me -- and my perspective of Marian consecration shifted. Instead of simply coming to Mary and Jesus by myself, I was coming with another person. My husband and I have continued this practice year after year, and even when the litanies and readings are accompanied by the sounds of a screaming newborn, there is a richness and solace found in our practice of Marian devotion. Through tumultuous periods and calm moments, we come to Mary together, so that she may bring us to Jesus. Mary draws her children together. Both from within and outside the Church, divisions and discord often flare up. We all struggle with sin, and this weakens our relationships with God and each other. When rifts threaten to tear our families and society to pieces, we need to come to Mary. Let us ask her to help us move closer to Jesus -- together.
Questions for Discussion:
- What is one way that you have seen Mary heal or strengthen relationships?
- How can we build up Marian devotion in our marriages, families, and communities?
Copyright 2019 AnneMarie Miller
About the Author
A bibliophile, wife, mother of young children, and lover of the Liturgy, AnneMarie Miller enjoys exploring the manifold—and quirky—ways in which God speaks. She can often be found reading books to her kids, burrowing her toes in the red Oklahoma dirt, or sipping black coffee. Her reflections on Catholicism, literature, and hope can be found on her blog, Sacrifice of Love.