I was unchurched for most of my life and then I came to Jesus through an Evangelical Protestant church in my 20’s. And several years later I converted to Catholicism right before I got married. You might think that as a convert, I’d struggle with the idea that Catholic honor Mary and that she is such a big part of the Catholic faith but that wasn’t ever a big struggle for me. I feel like I got my Catholic handbook that said, “We should love and honor Mary,” and I thought great, I’ll do that.
So I didn’t have any negative feelings toward Mary but I can’t say that I had an active relationship with her either. She was just kind of there in the background for me. Then at the 2014 Catholic Women Rejoice conference I happened to hear a lot of conversations about the 33 Days to Morning Glory retreat. Women were talking about how this program changed their life and they were so grateful to have gone through it.
I had never heard of this before but after so many glowing reviews, I thought I’d check it out. I picked up the whole program and made the retreat with my husband and another couple. The four of us went through this program from October 19th to November 21st. You see you make the retreat 33 days before a Marian feast day. Here’s a schedule you can look at.
The book follow four people who have consecrated themselves to Jesus through Mary. The quote I’ve pulled is in Mother Theresa’s section and one thing that isn’t as widely known about her is that she experienced a very long time of spiritual dryness. But even in this darkness she never gave up hope for she constantly prayed to live in Mary’s heart and that Mary live in hers.
“We all sin, and sin hardens hearts. Whatever the reason, our hearts can be cold and unfeeling, and this can be a problem. Thankfully, the one who has a sinless, perfect, immaculate heart will help us. She’ll give us her compassionate heart. She’ll even let us live in her heart! If only we’ll give her ours.”
Fr. Michael Gaily, 33 Days to Morning Glory
If you had asked me before doing this program if I thought I would ever lean on Mary for… well everything, I would have probably scoffed at the idea. Protestants are so trained to take everything to Jesus that the idea of taking things to Mary seemed unfathomable to me. But that’s the power of this program. This program teaches you that we should take all our suffering to Mary. And through her, she can make perfect petitions to her son on our behalf.
I now pray to and lean on Mary for almost everything. She is my rock, my mother, my lap to sit in, the hug I seek, the shoulder I cry on. She is so much more to me than I ever thought she could be. And she is capable of great miracles and that brings me to my second quote:
“Mary’s motherly attentiveness to the details of the couple being married at Cana begins Jesus’ public life with the miracle of the water becoming the wine. The lack of wine has been described as a symbol of the lack of joy in human life without God’s grace. What human needs might Mary be attentive to and then bring to Jesus for his miraculous intervention if she were invited to your home today?”
– 33 Days to Morning Glory Retreat Workbook
And I thought this was such a profound question because, I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel deserving of a miracle. I never think to ask God for miracles for me. I guess it feel selfish sometimes or maybe I just think my problems are too small, I’d rather see God perform miracles for other people who need them more. But in thinking about this question, you know, what would I ask of Mary if she came to my house and miraculously brought about a change.
After thinking about it, I decided I’d ask her to perform a miracle in my marriage. My husband and I both come from divorced families and so we have very little idea of how to have a happy and healthy marriage. We read a lot of marriage books but we still struggle. We struggle with communication, with our intimacy, with our parenting styles and if Mary could come and perform a miracle and help my husband to be more like Joseph and me to be more like Mary, that would be amazing.
And to be honest, I don’t think I was actively praying for this before. I thought the idea of it seemed so far away and not possible that I wasn’t even hoping for this kind of change. But in reading this, I realized that Mary can do great things if we put our trust in her. She will take our deepest prayers to Jesus and ask for his help.
I hope this gives you hope. I want you to place your hopes in dreams in Mary’s lap. Look up to her as if you’re a little child and she’s your mother who wants nothing more than your happiness. She wants you to turn to her. She wants to take care of your heart. Seek to live in her heart and ask her to live in yours.
If you would like to go through the 33 Days to Morning Glory retreat with me online, click here and sign-up. I’ll be emailing you every day with my own commentary on the program as I make the retreat for the second time this year!