Understanding the beautiful role of Mary in our lives

Our Lady.
Queen of heaven.
Queen of earth.
Queen of peace.
Queen of angels.
Our Lady of Good Health.
Our Lady of Sorrows.
Virgin of Virgins.
Mother of God.

We know her many titles, but what is Mary’s intercessory role in our lives? And what exactly is her role in helping us all get to heaven?

We know Mary intercedes for us. We know she helps us in ways unimaginable to our senses. Her graces and protection have carried us through a thousand times more than we realize. We hear her words and promises of comfort. We know of her miracles, her apparitions. We reflect on her wisdom and meditate on her graceful actions. We know her. We trust her. We love her. We consecrate ourselves to her.

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But how do we begin to understand this? What’s it all for?

To help us get to heaven. To help us grow closer to her son, of course.

But how? With all these glorious titles, how do we simplify her magnificent and numerous roles to one for our limited human understanding?

A simplified but profound reply came to me one evening.

A vision of Mary

My heart recently had been moved to tears in prayer for some people I knew and still others I had never met. My heart physically hurt for them. It wasn’t like me to be so emotional during prayer or to experience pain in my chest. I offered my pain up for them, praying it would somehow cancel at least that much pain from their own sufferings.

But night after night, I found myself behind closed doors, hiding my tears from my children as I felt an uncontrollable urge to pray. Each night brought a new wave of deep prayer, compassion, tears … and unimaginable pain in my heart. These tears and pain so strangely began only as I started my prayer, and both suddenly ceased as soon as I said “Amen.” I prayed for people I didn’t know, for intentions I couldn’t understand.

But it was too much. I didn’t want to turn anyone away who needed prayers, but I had a family to care for. So I did what any daughter does when life is too much to handle: I called my mom.

Mother Mary came to me in my mind, seated in all her gentle humility at the end of my bed. I knelt at her feet, my hands folded tightly hiding my eyes. My face, stained from tears, was buried in her lap. She stroked my hair and comforted me.

And she offered me an image:

Before me stood a huge banquet table, exquisitely decorated, with Mary herself seated at the head. Saints I knew and some I didn’t recognize but felt a close kinship with were all seated around an exceedingly long, wooden table. Floral centerpieces, wine in the clearest crystal goblets, fruits and desserts of all kinds sat perfectly spaced before me. I knew I was not as holy as these people, but I wanted a way to be in that room until I could be holy like them. And I wanted to know their stories.

So I served.

I carried a crystal pitcher of water and some grapes. As I refilled these great saints’ glasses, I paused to kneel on my feet next to Mother Teresa just for a moment to gaze up at her face. I was greeted with a heartwarming smile full of love that only a grandmother who thinks you are her world could give.

“This is what I want Lord,” I thought as I gazed into her warm smile. “To serve your people.”

Suddenly a new scene appeared: Mary stood on the clouds. A woman in all her majesty, smiling at me, her daughter. With her arms outstretched toward heaven, she led me upward with her as though parting the clouds for me until I felt sunbeams on my face.

The grace of peace

So what exactly does Mary do for us? My answer came as a whisper in my soul: She lifts the soul high to its place among the angels.

A peace filled my soul with overwhelming humility. Not only was I called to be a saint but to live among the angels. Over time, I noticed I was no longer flooded with a line of prayer intentions and corresponding tears and pain. Somehow, I could now focus on offering the small household chores of my beautifully mundane life for one person at a time, without pulling myself away from my family. I felt a new wave of love for Our Lady, my mother. She had answered my prayer and balanced my life and desires without my knowing. One day, I pray, this beautiful woman will indeed lift each of us high to our place among the angels.

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