Looking out my bedroom window in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, as a child, I saw first — above all else — a beautiful Marian grotto in our backyard.
My mom would give this white-and-baby-blue statue a fresh coat of paint every couple of years. She’d remove the weeds and plant a colorful flowerbed around the statue on all sides.
I realized the main purpose of this statue when I noticed one of my fourth-grade classmates crossing our front lawn one day after school — and stopping in front of the grotto. After making the sign of the cross, she closed her eyes and spent a few moments in prayer; then she gently stepped around the flowers to kiss the Blessed Mother’s foot. (Until that point, that was a golf hole for the plastic golf ball tournaments I held with friends.)
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My devotion to the Blessed Mother grew from this moment — and I felt that she was watching over our family. This gave me an incredible sense of peace.
The month of May is dedicated to Our Blessed Mother. We honor her by allowing her to intercede for us and learning from her life of virtue.
Jesus was unable to say “no” to His mom. Any time you pray to Mary, she immediately takes your petitions, looks into Her son’s eyes, and quietly asks Him to get it done.
My own mother, who was 91, recently died of a stroke and several other complications. During her final days in the hospital, I told her, “Mom, please remind Jesus that you have given him a priest, and a deacon [my older brother].”
She said, “And if there is a doubt, I will look to Mary. She knows what it’s like to give up her son.”
My mom prayed the rosary every evening in our living room — silently and systematically working the beads, a serene semblance on her face. Since her passing, I never thought this motherly role could fully be filled by anyone, but Our Blessed Mother has made her presence felt.
From the Incarnation, to the foot of the cross and beyond, Mary never said “no” to God. She was truly “all in, all the time,” and her main focus was always that of pleasing her heavenly Father.
Mary often felt the pain of discipline — but she never felt the pain of regret.
And the interesting thing is that the selfless, prayerful people like our Blessed Mother tend to be the most peaceful and joyful as well.
We are in this world for such a brief period of time; then we will give an account of our life in the presence of God. If you developed a deep bond with Mary, she will be there at your personal judgment and could be a powerful intercessory presence.
“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
Fr. Michael Sliney is a Catholic priest based in the New York City area and an adviser to the Lumen Institute, a professional business group.