By Haley Arndt
Happy Easter, y’all! Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Go tell it on the mountain! Yahoo! Being Catholic is the best because we don’t just celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord for one day. We celebrate for FIFTY days. And since we are in celebration-mode, that means I don’t need to eat vegetables for seven weeks. Bless up. Lol, just kidding. I actually really love vegetables.
Today I want to tell y’all about my relationship with a bomb-dot-com woman. And her name is Mary. The Virgin Mary. Queen of Heaven Mary. Jesus’ mama Mary. Our mama Mary. Also, it’s May. And May is the month of Mary. (Whoa, it’s like I planned to publish a blog about Mary during the month of Mary. Actually, I did not plan this out. It literally just happened this way. God provides.)
Okay so my relationship with Mary, like my relationship with God, has not been the greatest for most of my life. During my “I-don’t-need-the-Catholic-Church-to-love-Jesus” phase, I was NOT a fan of Mary. Because Mary and Catholicism go together like mac & cheese or peanut butter & jelly or apparently chili & cinnamon rolls (yeah, I guess that’s a thing). I didn’t understand why Catholics loved her so much. I didn’t relate to her because she ALWAYS chose virtue, and I was a straight-up hot mess. I strongly disliked most art depictions of Mary because they always made her nose too long. And I was like, “Y’all. Why be prayin’ to Mary when you can just go directly to Jesus?” And unfortunately, even after my relationship with the Catholic Church became all peachy-keen and stuff, there was one part of Catholicism that I still wasn’t super thrilled about…
And that was the lovin’ Mary part.
Now you’re probs thinking, “Dude, earlier you said that Mary was the GOAT, so what dramatic event happened in your life that made you change your mind about her?” My answer: being a Totus Tuus teacher.
So during the summers of 2017 and 2018, I was a teacher for a program called Totus Tuus. Totus tuus translates to: “Totally Jesus’ through the hands of Mary.” As a teacher, we were entrusting our mission of winning souls for Christ to Mary. And we were teaching the kids about how great Mary is. And we were singing songs about Mary. And we had pictures of Mary on our T-shirts. And we were praying a rosary every single day. So yeah, there was a whole lot of Mary going on.
And it was during this slow, gradual process of Jesus softening my heart towards receiving His beautiful mother as my beautiful mother that I realized I was loving Jesus more perfectly than I ever had because I was learning to love Mary.
You see, contrary to what I thought, the Catholic Church actually knows what’s up when it comes to forming a relationship with the Mother of God. We don’t form a relationship with Mary because we think she is better than God. No way. We form a relationship with Mary to enhance our love for Him. Because when we learn to love Mary, she points us to her Son. Mary loved God more perfectly than anyone else, and she wants to show us how we can more fully and deeply love Him too. And the only way she can show us is if we get to know her, if we have a relationship with her.
Y’all, if you interiorly struggle with the idea of having a relationship with Mary, or if you’ve never even thought about getting to know Mary, I totally catch your frisbee. But I so deeply encourage you to take the step to get to know His mother—our mother—on a more intimate level. Jesus gave us His mother to become our mother (John 19:26, look it up). He commanded us to know her as He knows her (John 19:27, look it up). Jesus is fully aware that Mary is the prime example of a disciple, and that’s what He wants us to be. He is giving us the key to loving Him and knowing Him as we ought to. So why aren’t we taking Him up on that offer?
But here’s the deal: like with any relationship—whether human or divine—it takes time and effort. Trust, vulnerability, and growth don’t just happen. It takes constant communication and presence to foster an authentic relationship. Mary’s ready. She’s there. She’s just waiting, like God is waiting, for you to take that step.
At this point in my blog I hope that I have successfully used my God-given charm and charisma to stir your heart to grow closer to this rockstar of a woman. But I also want to share with you some practical tips that have helped me begin to foster my intimate relationship with Mary:
- If old enough, apply to be a Totus Tuus leader. If not old enough, participate in a Totus Tuus program over the summer at a parish near you. (This one is kind of a joke, but also not really).
- Read the book 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley. It’s a game-changer.
- Pray a few Hail Mary’s each day. Believe it or not, talking to Mary is a pretty good way to get your relationship rolling.
- Listen to some Catholic speakers who talk about Mary on YouTube to increase your understanding of her. Fr. Mike Schmitz has some golden vids about her up on the ‘Tube.
- But most importantly– ask Jesus for the grace to grow closer to His mama. Like I said before, He wants you to know her more. And He wants to help you do that.
Alright, you crazy kids, go out there and start loving our mother Mary. Your spiritual life will never be the same.
Mary, Mother of All, Queen of Heaven and Earth, Our Lady of Good Help: pray for us.