Catechesis on prayer 15. The Virgin Mary, prayerful woman

Continung his catecheses on prayer, Pope Francis introduces us to Mary as the prayerful woman. We can imagine the young girl of Nazareth wrapped in silence, in continuous dialogue with God. This simple girl, already full of grace and immaculate from the moment she was conceived. She does not yet know her surprising and extraordinary vocation and the stormy sea she will have to cross; but one thing is certain: Mary prayed.

The Catechism recalls how Mary was docile, avaiable, and prepared by her constant life of prayer:

Mary’s prayer is revealed to us at the dawning of the fullness of time. Before the incarnation of the Son of God, and before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, her prayer cooperates in a unique way with the Father’s plan of loving kindness: at the Annunciation, for Christ’s conception; at Pentecost, for the formation of the Church, his Body… She whom the Almighty made “full of grace” responds by offering her whole being: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.” Fiat: this is Christian prayer: to be wholly God’s, because he is wholly ours. (Catechism 2617)

Mary’s small yet immense Fiat, which made all of creation jump for joy in that moment of the incarnation, was followed by many other acts of trusting obedience, by many moments open to God’s will. As Pope Francis notes, “There is no better way to pray than to place oneself like Mary in an attitude of openness, with a heart open to God: ‘Lord, what you want, when you want, and how you want.’ That is, a heart open to God’s will.

In the Annunciation, although troubled by the message of the angel, the Virgin Mary knew how to reject fear; even while sensing that her “yes” would bring her tremendously difficult trials. In prayer our hearts will widen and we will be prepared to accept everything. Prayer also calms our restlessness: wanting things without having to ask for them, and wanting them right away. Prayer transform restlessness into availability and helps us know the Lord’s promise to be present every step of the way.

The Catechism also note how Mary accompanied Jesus’ entire life in prayer, up to his death and resurrection; and she continued to accompany the first steps of the nascent Church (cf. Acts 1:14):

The Gospel reveals to us how Mary prays and intercedes in faith. At Cana, the mother of Jesus asks her son for the needs of a wedding feast; this is the sign of another feast – that of the wedding of the Lamb where he gives his body and blood at the request of the Church, his Bride. It is at the hour of the New Covenant, at the foot of the cross, that Mary is heard as the Woman, the new Eve, the true “Mother of all the living.” (Catechism 2618)

In the catechesis, Pope Francis notes how Mary was the first disciple, and so her prayer becomes a model for all disciples:

“Mary was open to God’s voice that guided her heart, that guided her steps where her presence was needed. Her silent presence as mother and as disciple. Mary was present because she was Mother, but she was also present because she was the first disciple, the one who best learned Jesus’ ways. Mary never said: “Come, I will take care of things”. Instead she said: “Do whatever he will tell you”, always pointing her finger at Jesus.”

You are invited to meditate on the Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary, Luke 1:26-38.

We consider our Blessed Lady as a woman of prayer and a model for our own prayer. Mary always prayed with humility, open to wherever the Lord might lead her. Her simple words, “Let it be done to me”, are a model for all prayer, which consists in trusting openness to God’s will. Saint Luke tells us that Mary “treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” (2:19). In union with her Immaculate Heart, may our hearts too be opened through our own meditation on the mysteries of the life and saving work of Jesus Christ.

Read Catechesis 15 on The Virgin Mary, prayerful woman