Mary Ways for All Our Days
Patricia M. McCormack, IHM
My father was quick to say, “Show me who your friends are and I’ll tell you the kind of person you are.” Children dismiss that remark but parents know only too well how true it is. Our friends do influence our thinking and behavior. So do the personalities that we find in book characters, cartoons, TV, movie, and music celebrities. Over time, who and what feeds our mind begins to show in our attitudes and actions.
Heroes and heroines give perspective and example, direction and advice when we are alone or in the midst of peer pressure situations. Who are the heroes/heroines that contemporary children imitate? Do these spiritual companions lead young people to be respectful, responsive, self-controlled, responsible, kind, loving, generous, self-sacrificing, and forgiving? Or, as a pattern, do you and others observe attitudes that are rude, selfish, mean-spirited, or vengeful?
Saints (including private saints like grandpop or a particular aunt) modeled virtues such as total dependence on God (Mary), integrity (Thomas More), unshakable devotion to Christ in the poor (Teresa of Calcutta), zeal for souls (Patrick), and unconditional forgiveness (Maria Goretti). The saints are human guideposts whose lives inspire us and give us strength.
Mary is Queen of All Saints. Introduce children to Mary as mentor and model — a wise and trusted teacher, guide, counselor, and friend who is a standard for imitation. Seek her advice in decision-making and identify behavior based on hers. For example, taking soup to a sick neighbor is like Mary caring for Elizabeth (the Visitation), and being hospitable and including all people in your friendship is the way that Mary received shepherds and kings in the stable (the Nativity).
Family rituals that become annual events shape family memories. Some suggestions follow that can penetrate the family environment with Mary-ways.
Learn and Live Mary’s Words
Observe Mary Seasons Throughout the Year
Review the mysteries of the rosary during the month. Discuss the meaning of each mystery and lessons each contains. Remember, there are five Joyful, five Sorrowful, five Glorious, and five Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary.
Create a centerpiece on the family meal table of a statue, symbol, or icon of Mary. Crown a statue of Mary. Sing a favorite Marian hymn. Choose-by-lot a card or stick that has the name of a Mary-virtue on it. Practice that virtue for the day.
Punctuate the Year by Honoring the Major Feast Days of Mary
Develop Worship Practices and Activities to Celebrate Mary Feast Days
Tell or View Stories of Mary Apparitions (such as)
Teach Mary Prayers
Use Mary Feasts to Teach Faith Concepts
For example, on the feast of Sorrows (September 15) discuss the seven sorrows of Mary:
Dr. Pat McCormack, IHM, is an international consultant and public speaker on issues of whole-person formation. She taught in elementary and secondary schools; served as elementary school principal; and directed teacher education at the collegiate level. Sister Pat can be contacted at the IHM Office of Formative Support for Parents and Teachers.
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