The purpose of our life is to get to heaven. Nothing is more important than this most noble pursuit! Jesus says it clearly: “What would it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul. What can one offer in exchange for his soul?”
Saint Louis de Montfort expresses a quick and efficacious way to get to heaven–it is through Mary! This great Marian saint, who teaches us how to consecrate ourselves to Jesus through Mary in his masterpiece “True Devotion to Mary”, says that Mary is the “shortest, quickest and easiest path to Jesus.” Of course if we love Jesus at the end of our lives then heaven will be ours for all eternity.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits and the author of the Spiritual Exercises, had a special devotion to Mary under the title of “Madonna della Strada”— in English, Our Lady of the Way. In both Spanish and Italian there is a well-known song or hymn in honor of Mary with the title in Spanish: Santa Maria del Camino–meaning Our Lady of the Way.
In this brief article we would encourage all to invite Our Lady to be with you, to accompany you, to travel with you on your way to your eternal destiny which is heaven. We would like to specify places, areas, times in which you can with great joy invite Our Lady to accompany you.
Rising from Sleep
Upon rising from sleep ask Our Lady to accompany you the whole of your day. This can be done by praying an Act of Consecration of your whole being to Jesus through Mary. Give to Jesus through Mary your eyes, ears, mind, heart and whole being and she will give your whole person to Jesus.
Leaving Home, Entering the World
Upon leaving home and heading toward your destiny–school, work, etc.–beg Our Lady of the Way to be with you and to protect you from the pervasive influence of evil that surrounds us in the world. The devil, the flesh and the world are the three major obstacles to attaining heaven. Beg Our Lady to protect you under her motherly mantle. Worldliness can asphyxiate your spiritual lungs, but Our Lady can protect as well as purify you by her mere presence.
One of the most beautiful encounters or meetings in the Gospels is Mary meeting and greeting her cousin Saint Elizabeth; the Holy Spirit definitely permeated that encounter. Ask Our Lady to be present in the course of your day with all the people you meet, that these meetings will be pleasing to God, and that these meetings will bring you closer to heaven as well as closer to those you meet! Mary’s presence sanctifies meetings between persons, just as her presence sanctified Saint Elizabeth and Saint John the Baptist in her womb.
God is family–the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus, Mary and Saint Joseph compose the Holy Family. We are called to live in a family. Good families should learn the art of giving, listening, sharing and loving. In family gatherings–Holidays, Feast days, Anniversaries, Birthdays–why not invite Our Lady to be present. She was present at the Wedding Feast of Cana and helped to resolve a very serious problem–no more wine! She turned to Jesus and at her request Jesus turned water into the best wine! With Mary present at family gatherings the wine of joy, friendship, peace and harmony will not extinguish. Mary brings us joy because she always points us to Jesus. In concrete Mary’s presence can be made manifest by displaying in a prominent place a beautiful image or painting of her: Our Lady of Fatima, Lourdes, Guadalupe, or Our Lady of Grace.
In Trials, Crosses, Worries, and Fears
When in your life you must travel in the face of trials, fears, worries, anxieties, doubts and uncertainties, more than ever this is the time to humbly beg Our Lady to accompany you, to be present with you, to walk with you through this dark night of uncertainty! A superb example of this can be found in the person of Saint Juan Diego. His heart was filled with sadness at the very real possibility of the death of his elderly uncle Juan Bernardino. So Juan Diego decides to circumvent meeting Our Lady of Guadalupe as he heads towards the city of Mexico to fetch a priest to give his uncle the last rites. But our heavenly Mother and Queen cuts Juan Diego off on the way and assures him of her motherly love, as well as the physical recovery that would take place with his uncle. Sure enough Juan Diego’s uncle was instantly cured. In our crosses, sufferings, sicknesses and doubts let us invite Our Lady of the Way (Madonna della Strada) to be with us. As soon as we invite her, she will run to our aid and be with us every step along the way.
On Our Way to Prayer
If we take our prayer life seriously then sooner or later we will encounter obstacles. Dryness or aridity, desolation and darkness, temptations and allurements, boredom and indifference–all of these states can visit us as we strive to progress in our prayer life. Therefore, how very important it is for each and every one of us as we undertake the most important enterprise of cultivating a deep prayer life to invite Our Lady to both pray with us and to pray for us! Remember! even in the midst of the darkest moments of prayer Our Lady desires to be with you at your side. “Hail Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life our sweetness and our hope…”
On the Way to Eternity
Saint Catherine of Siena asserts: “The two most important moments in our lives are now and at the hour of our death”– the words we pray in the Hail Mary. Indeed how important it is for us to close the book of our life with the signature of MARY. The last words of Saint Bernadette, the seer or visionary of Lourdes, were: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me, poor sinner, now and at the hour of my death. Amen.” If you form the habit of praying the Holy Rosary, in which you pray fifty times: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen”, then at your bedside when you are about to breathe forth your spirit and go before the Judgment seat of God, Mary will be present to assist you to die in the state of grace and gain heaven for all eternity!
In our life’s journey to heaven we are never alone. We have our Guardian angel, the saints who are our very close and dear friends. However, of greatest importance is Our Lady, under the title “Madonna della Strada”– Our Lady of the Way. Let us make it a habit to walk with Our Lady, talk to her, confide in her, entrust our whole selves to her and she will pave the way for us to our eternal destiny–Heaven! “Hail holy Queen Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope.”