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25.01.2023 01:33:24 1387x read.
My devotion to Mary Immaculate Conception. (Bro. Raphael Besigrinee)

My devotion to Mary Immaculate Conception.

(Bro. Raphael Besigrinee)

Many Catholics go on pilgrimage to Mary’s Shrines to deepen their faith as part of their devotion to Mary. Some undertake Novena prayers to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, or the Miraculous Medal. Some people place the statue of Mary in their rooms as their way of devotion to Mary, and many others simply pray the Rosary. Going on pilgrimage to Mary’s holy places is still very popular among Catholics these days, and indeed I consider short visits to Mary’s shrines very inspiring as well. My few visits to Chile and Indonesia show people’s deep devotion to Mary through visiting shrines dedicated to Mary. I have visited a few myself, and felt truly inspired by humanity’s devotion to Mary. However, the commonest practice that shows my devotion to Mary Immaculate Conception is through praying the Rosary.  

I grew up as a child knowing already about Rosary prayers through my parents. I find a lot of meaning through Rosary prayers first of all because they remind me of Mary the Mother of Jesus and her role in salvation history. Even before Mary brought Jesus Christ into the world, she knew the value of obedience. She demonstrates that obedience to God supersedes attachment to our personal desires. Her response to God’s invitation symbolizes the Christian attitude of being prepared to be used by God for His purposes, and our lives should be characterized by our readiness to be “the Lord’s servant.” Secondly, Rosary prayers remind me of Jesus Christ Himself whose teachings Mary was devoted to till the end. Although she is the mother of Jesus, Mary’s obedience to her son is an example we should all emulate. 

Mary’s attitude clearly expresses her special focus on the poor who should be our main concern, as indicated in our constitutions (art. 10). In Mary's hymn of praise (Magnificat) she clearly opts for the poor and lowly, and even identifies herself as a lowly one through whom God worked His wonders. This is what some people call "Theology from below", and which Theology turns its attention towards the poor, the underprivileged, the downtrodden, those society rejects, etc. 

What is the significance of the Rosary prayers in my personal life? And how have the Rosary prayers strengthened my faith? I personally admire Mary’s justice system because it resonates with that of God who has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty handed (Luke 1:53). The Canticle of Mary is one that inspires hope in the poor and suffering; It gives us the consolation that our present suffering is only temporal, and that soon we shall find relief because God recognizes our predicaments. The prayer of Mary gives me the feeling that the present world order created by humans will soon end and that God will certainly overturn the judgments of the present world. It is a new world where God will raise the poor from the dust; lifts up the needy from their misery and give children to childless wives, etc.

Another way my faith is strengthened through the Rosary prayers is that it allows me to journey with Jesus in the New Testament from His birth to the cross. I do this through the twenty mysteries of the Rosary. Of course this is exactly what Mary did herself: being with Jesus from His birth (Nativity) to the cross (Crucifixion). In other words, praying the Rosary is synonymous with following Jesus in the scriptures (NT). All the twenty mysteries of the rosary have their basis in the New Testament. Reflecting on these mysteries in Rosary prayers is very significant for me. Fundamentally, I see Mary as the first to experience the New Testament, and even after the resurrection of Jesus, Mary was still with the disciples at the beginning of the Church in the upper room (Acts 1:14). So we cannot talk about the New Testament without the mention of Mary; after all she brought the NT into existence. No wonder that many Popes in the past held the recitation of the Rosary in high esteem. Pope Paul VI explained the doctrine of the Rosary by calling it a “Gospel prayer” centred on the mystery of the incarnation. 

Pope John Paul II says the Rosary has an important place in Marian devotion. I therefore try to pray it every day. I even put the Rosary in my trousers’ pocket anytime I go out. I treat it like a ‘talisman’, something that protects me. The intercessory role of Mary in our life is something we should have no doubts about. I believe that like the work of the Holy Spirit, Mary comes to our aid in the hours of our weakness; for when we do not know how to pray as we ought, she intercedes for us with inexpressible groaning (Rom:8:26). Pope John Paul II said when we mention “Holy Mary, Mother of God” in the Rosary prayers, we ask her by a unique privilege to “Pray for us sinners” and entrust ourselves to her at the present moment and at the hour of our death”.  

Bro. Raphael Besigrinee on a visit to Mary Tritis Shrine in Paliyan, Gunung Kidul, Jogjakarta (2016)

As brothers FIC our name bears (in part) the “Immaculate Conception of Mary”, having a lot to do with the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The dogma says that Mary, from the moment of her conception, was freed (by God) from original sin, in view of her future task as the mother of Jesus. Mary played her role perfectly in the world; what about me? Praying the Rosary reminds me also of my task as a religious brother. Do I play my role well as a brother? In this question I see Mary’s role as exemplary, and I therefore pray for her intercession in this regard. 

In conclusion, Mary is considered “Mother of the Church”. She exemplifies all the Christian qualities and virtues we need to cultivate. The virtue associated closely with her is purity. But her faith, humility, obedience, love, patience and poverty also come readily to mind when I think about Mary. However, what is significant is that she comes to my aid in my weakness. She transmits my prayers to God, even when I am not able live up to my commitment. With this I feel secured and confident in God’s love and care for me. These are the reasons for my devotion and reliance on her intercession in my prayers. 

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