Friday, May 16, 2014

Love Notes: Men and Mary

{small ways to show great love}

 from my Insta
When I was in high school, I'd spend the time before going to sleep ticking off on my fingers the qualities I wanted to find in my future husband: I hoped he'd be, in no particular order, funny, musical, a reader, from a big family, and naturally, handsome.  As time passed and my spiritual life flourished, my list started changing.  Actually, I still prayed for all those things, but meeting and marrying a man of deep faith pushed things like "able to make me laugh" from the top spots on the list.  Specifically, I hoped that my husband would have a relationship with Our Lady.

Suffice it to say I'm blessed beyond measure to have found all these qualities and more in Andrew.  When we started dating, he told me how starting to do a daily Rosary had brought order and peace to his life at a time when he knew he was wandering from the path of virtue and true masculinity he so deeply strove for.  Nighttime Rosary walks around our college campus quickly became a ritual we loved, and I can so clearly remember the clarity I sensed with our prayer.  Within a few months, we talked together about feeling such a healing from past sins against chastity and such a certainty and purity in the start of our relationship.  Eventually, it was after a Rosary walk that Andrew asked me to be his wife.  We chose a line from the Memorare, "before thee we kneel," for the inscription in our wedding rings.

To me, there is nothing more attractive, more admirable, and more masculine than a man in love with the Blessed Mother.  It seems easy sometimes to think of Mary as pious and quiet--the image of a docile woman--what with all the statues of her serenely holding baby lambs and things.  A friend of mine has told me before that as a man, it's not the piety and docility that draw him in.  "Mary can be a badass," he said (pardon the language; I just felt like I had to say it for the full effect).  Think the Battle of Lepanto.  Her love can be stern at times, even to Jesus at Cana, yet like any mother, she knows so well what each of her children's hearts needs at different times.  I myself think it's also important to consider her fullness of humanity and what I like to think must have been a rich emotional life: a pure-hearted passion for her husband, an abiding love for her son, and an emptying to the depths of her being at the foot of the Cross.  She is so alive, and can truly show a man how to love his bride, by loving her and imploring her intercession.

St. Louis de Montfort described devotion to Mary as being "Our Lady's slave," an image that's understandably uncomfortable across 400 years and an entirely different culture.  When I first heard it my freshman year of college, I was kind of freaked out, honestly--I was just starting to learn more about the faith and was considering Marian consecration.  To discover that Mary wanted to chain me to her for eternity didn't exactly seem loving, let alone pleasant.

I'm glad I heard out the explanation of the language, and am grateful for the grace of developing a devotion to her.  Now, when I think of being chained to Our Lady, I don't think of it as a burden, or a literal ball and chain.  Instead, it brings me deep comfort to know I'm forever tethered to her.  It's impossible for her to let me go, even if I try; by grace alone, she's always pulling me back to her and into a deeper love for her son.

That said, how can you cultivate a deeper devotion to Mary, especially during this, her month?  Make a habit of praying the rosary with your fiancĂ© or husband each time you're together, even if it's just one decade.  Hang an image or icon in your home.  Do something celebratory, like a really nice dessert, on Marian feast days (I really want to explore living liturgically!).  And, consider consecrating yourself to her as a couple.  I made my consecration 7 years ago, and Andrew did it with his family when he was really young, and we're considering renewing them together for our anniversary in a couple months (you can read about my consecration experience here, and about a fantastic consecration preparation here).

What about you?  Tell me about your experiences with inviting Our Lady into your prayer life and into your relationship!  Do you have any Marian traditions?  Any stories about how she's shaped your love story or yours or your fiancĂ©'s lives?  I'm all ears!


5 comments:

  1. Beautiful story! I consecrated myself to Mary when I was younger and recently did the 33 Days to Morning Glory consecration last year, which was amazing, and I love wearing my miraculous medal, but with my husband being a convert to the faith, Mary really hasn't been a big part of our relationship. I think that may be common for converts to take some time to "warm up" to Mary... Your post is definitely something to think about as far as us as a couple goes... Have a good weekend!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the food for thought, and I hope that whatever path you two decide on, Mary keeps pouring the graces on your relationship! Thanks, Steph!

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  2. Hi Steph! Thanks for this post =) It's a good reminder for me. My boyfriend and I used to do rosary together once a week for a while, but we haven't been doing it again for a long time. I think to start reading the "True Devotion to Mary" is really a good start in May. One thing that I learned recently is to have a quick glimpse of love every time we pass an image of Our Lady. I heard a cute story about this. A family had an image of Our Lady at the stairs. One day the little boy cried as he went up the stairs. The mother told her neighbor who was present in the house "Soon he would stop crying". And yes, the little boy 'paused' crying to look at Our Lady, then halfway continued crying again =P

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    1. Ha, what a great story! I once heard that Louis de Montfort said every young Catholic should read "True Devotion" by the age of 20…I remember feeling the pressure, though I missed that boat. I really want to give it another go sometime!

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    2. Oh, and I hope that Our Lady bears so much fruit in your relationship with your boyfriend!

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