Catholics celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary during the month of May But if you’re like many Catholics, devotion to Mary might not be something that you’ve actively sought out or engaged in before.
It turns out that for those of us who haven’t made an effort to grow in devotion to Mary in our prayer lives, we’re seriously missing out!
Regardless of what our relationship with our own mother might be like, we have a pretty fantastic mother in Mary. She loves to help us and be there for us in all of our struggles. She’s also pretty great at bringing us closer to her Son and helping us find his will for our lives.
So if any of those benefits sound helpful and amazing to you (and they should!), here are four practical Marian devotions you can start practicing today to grow in your relationship with the Blessed Mother.
1. Start praying the Angelus
The Angelus is a short set of prayers commemorating the Annunciation, when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and she gave her “yes” to God’s plan for her to bear his Son.
The Angelus is written in a call and response format for more than one person to pray together, but it is certainly something we can pray alone as well.
Traditionally, the Angelus is prayed at 6 a.m., 12 noon, and 6 p.m. each day. That can make this prayer a great way to re-orient ourselves to God and ask for Mary’s intercession at various points throughout our day.
The Angelus is also a fairly simple and easy-to-memorize devotion. Here is the prayer:
The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary,
And she received by the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, etc.
Behold, the handmaid of the Lord.
Be it done unto me according to thy word.
Hail Mary, etc.
And the Word was made Flesh,
And dwelt among us
Hail Mary, etc.
Let us pray. Pour forth we beseech the, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of the Resurrection. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
2. Try wearing the Brown Scapular
The Brown Scapular consists of two small pieces of cloth to be worn around one’s neck. It was given by Mary in an apparition to Saint Simon Stock.
Mary promised that she would protect all who wore the Brown Scapular from going to hell, which is definitely a significant promise.
Of course, the promise of the Brown Scapular is conditional on our own faithfulness. We couldn’t just put a scapular on and then go about living a terribly sinful life while expecting to be saved from Hell.
But the tangible reminder of a scapular around our necks is a great way to seek to remember to be faithful throughout our daily lives.
The promise of Mary’s intercession for those who wear the scapular can sometimes actually be very tangible and easy to see as well.
Personally, I’ve heard a friend’s testimony to the power of the scapular in her life. She randomly decided to put it on one day in the midst of a very dark time. In a matter of a couple of days, her devotion and hope were radically reignited. Today, she credits the scapular for this grace in her life.
3. Pray the Rosary daily
Some of us are a bit intimidated at the thought of praying the Rosary every day. If you’re not in the habit of praying it frequently, doing so every day can sound time-consuming and difficult.
But once you become more familiar with the mysteries,, it can feel a lot less intimidating to try praying it daily.
Many people say that prayer in general can be like a muscle, something we must work at to gain strength. The Rosary is no different.
While many people don’t mind praying the Rosary every once in a while, they still might balk at the idea of praying it every single day. But there are actually some pretty amazing promises that Mary has made to those who do decide to pray it daily.
These promises include things like Mary’s special protection, the destruction of vice in our lives, and having a high degree of glory in Heaven!
4. Consecrate yourself to Jesus through Mary
Before my husband and I were engaged, both of us were also lightly discerning religious vocations. We struggled a lot with the question of whether or not we should continue dating, and more than once we were given the advice to consecrate ourselves to Jesus through Mary.
Consecration to Jesus through Mary consists of thirty-three days’ worth of preparatory prayers, based on the writings of Saint Louis Marie de Montfort. And the ultimate end is to give ourselves over entirely to Mary, so that she can make us the best servants of Jesus possible.
My husband and I didn’t find immediate answers to our discernment questions through our consecration to Jesus through Mary. However, we did both grow much deeper in our devotion to Mary and our dependence on her in our lives. We definitely found our way to God’s will for our lives eventually.
Perhaps one of the most helpful aspects of this devotion is that we literally give Mary all of our prayers and works to do with as she sees fit.
For any of us who struggle with knowing how to pray best or just what to focus our spiritual energy toward, this devotion of consecration to Jesus through Mary can be very comforting, as we truly allow Mary to take over our lives and lead us to her Son.