“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.” (John 19:26-27)
These were some of the last words Jesus spoke, before he died. In the most excruciating moment of His life, He looked down from the Cross and saw two people whom He loved the most: His mother Mary and the beloved disciple John. And as their presence consoled Him, He ministered and took care of them by bringing them together, as mother and son.
Tradition says that Mary lived the remainder of her life with John in a home in Ephesus—in present-day Turkey. But according to Pope Benedict XVI, “the Greek text [of the above Bible passage] is far deeper, far richer. We could translate it: he took Mary into his inner life, his inner being … into the depths of his being.”
Here is your mother
Jesus’ final words not only pertained to Mary and John. They also included you, me, and all of humanity.
“Jesus Christ, after having given us all he could give, that is to say, the merit of His toils, His sufferings, and bitter death; after having given us His adorable body and blood to be food for our souls, willed also to give us the most precious thing He had left, which was His holy mother.” —St. John Marie Vianney
Yes, Jesus gave us Mary to be our mother. And He gave Mary all of us to be her children.
But how do we cultivate a relationship with our mother Mary? How do we take her into our homes—and even into the depths of our being—like John did?
Here are six ways to honor Mary in and around our homes
The prayer we associate the most with Mary is the Hail Mary. And the prayer with a series of Hail Marys, which Mary gave to St. Dominic, is the Rosary. When we pray the Rosary, we meditate on the life of Jesus, and while we do so, we ask Mary to intercede for us.
Praying the Rosary is a powerful and beautiful devotion. But as we develop the habit of praying the Rosary everyday, it can feel overwhelming. The good news is that we can start small, and grow from there. To begin, pray one decade of the Rosary each day for five days, so by the end of the week, we will have prayed an entire Rosary.
Another way to ask Mary for her prayers and intercession is by simply incorporating the Hail Mary, Memorare, or another Marian prayer into our daily prayer routine.
One way to grow in relationship with Mary is by pondering her presence in Scripture. While she does not say much, what she says (and does) is powerful.
Below is a simple Marian lectio divina. Some passages will be familiar, as they are also mysteries of the Rosary. After reading a Bible verse, consider what it means to you. What can you learn from Mary? How can you emulate her words and actions in your own life?
- The Annunciation: Luke 1:26-38
- The Visitation: Luke 1:39-56
- The Nativity of Our Lord: Luke 2:1-20
- The Presentation: Luke 2:22-38
- The Losing and Finding Jesus in the Temple: Luke 2:41-52
- The Wedding at Cana: John 2: 1-12
- The Crucifixion: John 19:26-27
- The Early Church: Acts 1:14
Another way to get to know Mary is by reading a good book about her. This will help you grow in relationship with her, and it will equip you to share the truth about Mary with others. Here are a few good books about Mary:
- True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montford
- The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander
- 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley
- Under the Mantle by Fr. Donald Calloway
- Walking with Mary: A Biblical Journey From Nazareth to the Cross by Dr. Edward Sri
- The Rosary: A Path into Prayer by Liz Kelly
And if you want the children in your life to know Mary from an early age, Take It To the Queen: A Tale of Hope by Josephine Nobisso is a beautiful children’s book about her.
If you do not have one already, begin shopping for a beautiful statue or image of the Blessed Mother. Once you find one that you like, display it prominently in your home.
During May (the month of Mary) and October (the month of the Rosary), it is customary to create a special place in your home to honor Our Lady. A Mary altar can be simple but beautiful atop a fireplace mantle or bookshelf. It can include a statue, framed holy card, Rosary, and candles. Get the kids involved by inviting them to make little bouquets of flowers to place on the Mary altar. During these months, take time to pray here, adding special Marian prayers to your repertoire.
Mary gardens have been part of Catholic culture for a long time. They can be elaborate or simple, depending on your gardening skills. A Mary garden includes specific flowers named after Our Lady. Typically, a Mary garden also includes a statue of her. If you do not have a yard, create a garden to honor Mary by planting flowers in large pots. Then, simply tuck a small statue or holy card of Our Blessed Mother among the flowers. Here are some traditional Marian flowers:
- Bleeding Heart: Mary’s Heart
- Daffodil: Mary’s Star
- Ferns: Mary’s Hair
- Geraniums: Lady Beautiful
- Hostas: Assumption Lily
- Impatiens: Mother’s Love
- Marigold: Mary’s Gold
- Pansies: Our Lady’s Delight
- Tulips: Mary’s Prayer
Within our Catholic tradition, there are many Marian feast days. Find a few that are meaningful to you. Write them on your calendar, and plan something special for those days. Some ideas include:
- Decorating cupcakes for Our Lady’s birthday (Sept. 8)
- Making white hot chocolate for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8)
- Enjoying a Mexican dinner on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec. 12)
Of course, Marian feast day celebrations do not have to include food. Other ideas include:
- Making an act of consecration to Jesus through Mary. This is a 33-day process that ends on a Marian feast day.
- Creating something in honor of Mary, such as a prayer shawl, watercolor painting, or hand-lettered quote. Incorporate it into your home’s decor, or give it away to someone special.
- Sing Marian hymns.
What are some of your favorite ways to honor Mary in and around your home?
This was originally published on the Blessed Is She blog.