By Aidan Morrissey
A mother loves unconditionally and wholeheartedly. She tends to the needs of all her children. We see these qualities in our mother, Mary, the mother of Jesus. She will not turn one of her children away. As Catholics, we ask Mary to intercede for us as children would ask their mother for assistance. That idea is so special because we can ask our mother to intercede to the Father. Nobody’s word is more important than the mother’s. The devotion and admiration of Mary, who was conceived without sin, revolves around the ideas of intercession and grace.
The origin of Mary’s role as our intercessor can be found in the Gospel of John 2:3-5: “When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’” At the time of the wedding at Cana, Jesus did not want to perform this public miracle; however, Mary knew there was a need to be filled at the wedding, so she brought it to her son’s attention and instigated his first miracle. As in our everyday life, Mary advocates for our needs to her Son, Jesus. As a loving mother, she takes us by the hand and leads us to her son.
On the eve of St. Vincent de Paul’s feast day, St Catherine Labouré asked St. Vincent that she might see the Mother of God. As she prayed, Mary appeared to her in a chair across the Chapel. Mary, ablaze in beautiful lights, said to St. Catherine, “Graces will be shed on all, great and little, especially upon those who seek them. Another community will become large; you will have the protection of God and St. Vincent … I will always have my eyes upon you.” To this day, Mary still watches over us, interceding and providing graces to all her children with her motherly love.
St. Catherine also experienced the second apparition of Mary. While praying in a chapel, she heard Mary speak to her, turned around (for she heard her voice from behind her) and saw the mother with her eyes toward heaven. She offered a globe to Jesus. When the globe turned, St. Catherine saw an “M” with a cross embedded in it and a bar underneath it. Mary spoke to her, saying, “Have a medal struck upon this model. All those who wear it, when it is blessed, will receive great graces especially if they wear it around the neck. Those who repeat this prayer with devotion will be in a special manner under the protection of the Mother of God. Graces will be abundantly bestowed upon those who have confidence.” This symbol of Mary came to be what is known as the Miraculous Medal. Mary, through this symbol, portrays a new embodiment of the Church. She stands as the main intercessor to her son and creates femininity in the Church.
In 2014, I attended a youth festival for Mary’s birthday in Medugorje, Bosnia,