To begin, make the sign of the cross and pray the Sh’ma, a prayer the little Mary would have grown up reciting every day with her Jewish family and community:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
Holy Child Mary, gentle and humble of heart, you are the glory of Jerusalem, you are the joy of Israel, you are the fairest honor of our people!” (see Judith 15:9)
When I was a kid, I loved looking at pictures of my mom from when she was little. Not only could I see hints of who she would become–those eyes, that smile…those knees…. That spunk! I could also more easily see the ways I looked like her. I could compare pictures of the two girls, little Mom, and myself, and see our similarities, or look at a picture of her a few years later than the one before and see what I might be like in the future.
In my mother’s stories of her childhood this was also true. Her heart was like my heart and so much of what had happened to her happened to me too, in one way or another, and she felt the same way about it as I did. Plus she could share her lessons and tell me how it all turned out. There was a lot of wisdom and comfort in those pictures and stories of my mom.
Every November 21, the reflective Heart of the Church presents to us in the quiet marking of a minor memorial, our own Little Mother in Christ, dancing, it is said, up the Temple steps when she was dedicated by her parents to the Lord. Even the solemn old priests had to smile as they watched her, this girl, who, unknown to them, would one day teach God His prayers.
In these days leading up to this little feast of our heavenly mother as a child being consecrated to God by her parents, let’s imagine and ponder the mystery of her girlhood.
It doesn’t matter whether this very old story of Mary happened just like this or not. It’s true, anyway. It points us to who Mary is and what she did in her life. In this ancient snap shot we can see our own baby picture of the Christian soul with a child’s pure heart free for God. Mary is our mother. Her life reflects our life and spiritual development as we grow in Christ.
“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” ~ Mark 10:15
Little Mary, gentle, joyful, and humble of heart, make our hearts like your own, that we may reflect the love and life and joy that comes from the freedom of the children of God.
Imagine Mary as a little girl; innocent, kind and wise. Take her hand and ask her to pray for you. Think about your life, and what you need the most. Place your concerns in her hands to take to the Father. Know that her heart is love, and that it is filled with tenderness and open to the Spirit. She does not judge you, but sees you in humility, purity, and simplicity of heart. She sees who you are in God. That is what she sees. Open your heart to her.
Then pray, “Hail Mary…”