She’s not a distant figure from two thousand years ago. She’s not a woman on a pedestal in my parish church. She’s not an image of perfection that’s impossible to attain.
Instead, she’s covered in dust and shaking with silent sobs. Her hands are clasped, and perhaps the only prayer she can find words to is the line from Psalm 13: “How long must I carry sorrow in my soul, grief in my heart day after day? How long will my enemy triumph over me?”
This isn’t a woman who’s been protected from life and sheltered from reality. Here’s someone who has learned to feed her family, bear single parenthood, juggle the demands of her Son’s mission while staying out of the limelight herself, and has faced torture and grief in ways none of us can appreciate.
Who better to turn to, this Lent, than Mary?
Try a new devotion.
Maybe you have less than five minutes each day for the Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin, which is easily prayed on your fingers during a shower. Perhaps the novena (nine day prayer) to the Virgin Mary as the Undoer of Knots speaks to the challenges you face or intentions you hold dear.
It might just be a one-line prayer, asking for Mary’s help, like the one I use on certain days of the week: “Mother Mary, guide me to Jesus, lead me to God, HELP ME RIGHT NOW!”
Or maybe you’ve never really done much in the way of asking Mary to intercede for you and your intentions. Start with a Hail Mary at some repeatable point in the day–when you’re going upstairs, when you brush your teeth, when you close or open a door.
Whatever you choose, don’t overwhelm yourself. Let your devotion grow, watered by the habit of doing it daily. Devotion to Mary can draw us deeper into the life of Christ, if we let it, and help us participate in His life.
Bless the ordinary tasks and mundane moments.
Whether it’s dishes or diapers, phone calls or filing, spreadsheets or silence, your day can be blessed with more of Mary. You don’t have to free your hands, but it might lighten your load.
How about memorizing part of one of the Psalms? Mary must have prayed the Psalms as a devout Jewish girl and woman. Try using it as the refrain for those moments when you’re most tempted to throw up your hands in frustration.
While you’re doing that repeatable task you most hate, offer a decade of the rosary for the souls in Purgatory, your family, or some intention that’s close to your heart. When you find yourself rolling your eyes at the “excitement” of your day (whether or not it deserves the quotes), offer a pause and a Hail, Holy Queen for whatever the source of your stress.
Life is composed more of the ordinary and mundane than it is the exciting and overwhelming. We have far more laundry than drama over the course of our lives. There’s no reason, though, that we can’t bless those times and gain deeper spiritual advancement from them.
Ask for her help.
There is no shortage of online resources (including Celebrating Lent with Mary), no lack of books, no absence of ideas. And here is where I find my weakness: the desire to do too much.
I can always find that “one more thing” that will make my Lent just “perfect.” If I’m honest with myself, though, the real perfection in Lent doesn’t come from me at all.
Ask Mary to help you as you continue through your Lent. She will. In fact, if you pay attention, she probably already has.