Posts filed under: mother mary

Why sometimes it’s hard to pray the Rosary…

Hi, Father Shane! I have a question about Mary and her marriage to Joseph. Was it a "real" marriage? I mean because marriage is a sacrament and the substance of the sacrament would be the couple uniting (wedding night), was Mary and Joseph's marriage not a sacrament? - Anonymous

An interesting question! Marriage between baptized persons is a sacrament, but neither Mary nor Joseph were baptized. (There’s a theological quibble there regarding whether Mary’s Immaculate Conception accomplished the same ends as baptism, but she certainly wasn’t baptized in the conventional sense before marrying Joseph. Some of the Church Fathers speak of marriage in the Old Testament as being a sort of proto-sacrament or quasi-sacrament, but in doing so they’re setting off the difference between Christian sacramentality and that which prepared the way for it.)

Actually, the indispensable element that “makes the marriage” is the exchange of consent between the spouses (see Catechism 1626). Consummation of the marriage is, in Canon Law (canon 1141), a requirement for indissolubility — “A marriage that is ratum et consummatum can be dissolved by no human power and by no cause, except death” — but not a requirement for marriage itself.

Hope that helps! Don’t worry, Mary and Joseph are still the greatest example for married couples, even though their marriage was awfully special…

God bless you!

- Father Shane

At the Annunciation to Mary and Conception of Jesus Christ, the fate of the universe revolves around a single word to be spoken – or not (for this is part of the inscrutable way of God) – the fate of the universe revolves around a single word to be spoken by a single obscure young girl, in an obscure village, of an obscure nation, on an obscure planet, in an obscure galaxy in a universe which is loved and cherished and has been held in being, second by second, for billions of years.

The destiny of a beloved but weary cosmos is balanced upon the tip of the tongue of a twelve-year-old girl.

All creation holds its breath, the word is spoken, and the universe sighs its contented joy. “All will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well.”

From an exceptional contemporary Annunciation homily riffing off St. Bernard of Clairvaux’s classic Annunciation homily. It’s Angelus Day!

The Virgin Mary - El Greco 

The Catechism says that God created all men equal, but clearly this is not true because there's Mary, who is "holy" (set apart) and "blessed among women". How do you explain this? - Anonymous

We’re all equal in dignity, a dignity that comes from being “called to share, by knowledge and love, in God’s own life” (Catechism 356).

But we’re not all called to be identical. Each of us has a different path to walk in this life. For me, it’s as a priest; for you, it’s as an anon; for the Blessed Mother, it was as the only woman to receive the special mission of being God’s mother. So her mission was different, but her dignity of being called to share in God’s own life is the same as yours.

Of course, she’s enjoying it much more fully than either of us right now, since she’s in Heaven in surpassing holiness, so I guess we’re only right to fulfill Elizabeth’s prophecy and tell her “Most blessed are you among women” (Luke 1:42)!

God bless you!

- Father Shane

Why Don't Protestants Call the Blessed Virgin Mary "Blessed" When the Bible Records Four Such Instances, States That "All Generations" Will Do So, and Describes Her Also Being Hailed by an Archangel?

Hello Father! I hope you're well. Two related questions. 1, Do you have any book/website recommendations for rosary meditations, to help focus on and deepen appreciation of the mysteries? 2, Praying in general: How can I cultivate a relationship with Christ or Mary without getting caught up in false "imaginings"? I mean, how can I be sure I'm really praying truly, and not imagining a presence that isn't there, or just lost in my own head? Thank you so much! :) - Anonymous

My personal favorite for rosary meditations is the NCRegister’s Rosary Guide, though I’m sure that Magnificat’s similar booklet is also very good. You can find good things online, too, like this and Fr Tommy Lane’s excellent resources, but of course a booklet is easier to pray with.

Sometimes those “imaginings” of the truths of faith are actually fairly important for our prayer. We think in terms of things we can see and touch, so even though that’s a very limited way to deal with divinity, it’s our best and only entryway. As prayer life deepens over the years, the soul is gradually prepared for purer and more perfect ways to get to know God, but true vision is still only reserved for the next life.

So by faith we know that Jesus and our Blessed Mother really are there. Just not in a spatial way. Imagining God’s smile on you and the Virgin Mary’s smile on you is true. Just not in a spatial way. So you know that, if you start imagining that Mary decided to wear white instead of blue today, it’s all in your head.

Of course, it’s necessary to be humble enough to recognize that your imaginings are just that, but that the deeper truth of God’s loving presence is so incredible that your imaginings could never ever do it justice.

God bless you and say a little prayer for me, would you?

- Father Shane

When Christians of all times and places turn to Mary, they are acting on the spontaneous conviction that Jesus cannot refuse his mother what she asks; and they are relying on the unshakable trust that Mary is also our mother.

Pope Benedict XVI

When Christians of all times and places turn to Mary, they are acting on the spontaneous conviction that Jesus cannot refuse his mother what she asks; and they are relying on the unshakable trust that Mary is also our mother.

Pope Benedict XVI


6 Pictures of Mary with Baby Jesus to make you wish you could go to Jesus’ house and Mary would make you dinner and ask you about your day.

In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.

— The Blessed Virgin Mary (at Fatima)

Hi Fr. Shane! A friend of mine is Catholic-well let's say a "cafeteria" Catholic. I am worried for her because she is dating a non-denominational (nothing against him), but I think she might become non-denom because no matter what she still loves Jesus and they're relationship is Christ-centered. She believes in the Eucharist, but she does not understand why Catholics should pray to Mary and the Saints. I tried to explain to her why we do, but I still don't think she gets it. Suggestions? - Anonymous

Good question, and sorry to take forever to get to it! Well, you can definitely use resources like this to explain why we seek the intercession of Mary and the saints, but we wouldn’t say that we “should” pray to Mary and the saints or that their intercession is necessary for our salvation.

Still, if you’ve got friends in high places, why not get their help, right? Even down here we tend to ask our friends (and even total strangers, like when we’re at Mass) to pray for us, after all.

But the Eucharist is key. She really has to understand that, if she leaves the Church, she’s leaving Someone behind. Someone who is seeking intimacy with her and who wants to bless her abundantly, transforming her from within. Maybe someone could say that God is everywhere and all-powerful and he’ll bless us even if we don’t receive the Eucharist, but if that’s really the way God works then why did he give us an order to “Do this in memory of me”? Do we really understand what he means when he says that we are to be like branches on a vine or we won’t have life within us, right after he instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper?

If your friend starts attending her boyfriend’s church and discovers that the preaching and ambience are far more enjoyable than her Catholic parish (who knows, it could happen!), it may get harder for her to understand why she should go to Mass. She needs to understand that she’s kneeling before the Living God, witnessing something unspeakably holy, being present at the very same one sacrifice of Calvary, touching God with her own hands and lips, being transformed into his likeness, being all penetrated by Love. That can become clearer if she spends time at Adoration, for example, etc. 

Of course if she’s already a “cafeteria Catholic,” that will make all of this much harder. It’ll just be that much easier for her to drift away from a Church she never understood, and it was all just so unfortunate. So any outreach you can do now is key… and pray that the Holy Spirit inspire you and that everything you do for her be only ever for her greatest good!

God bless you.

- Father Shane

In a world still threatened by weapons of mass destruction, we have in the rosary — as Mary indicated to the shepherd children of Fatima — a weapon of mass conversion.

— Archbishop Thomas Wenski (Miami)
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