Mother Mary: ‘Our Life, Our Sweetness and Our Hope’

Mary, Spouse of the Spirit, pray for us! Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us! Mary, Cause of Our Joy, pray for us!

Mother Mary
Mother Mary (photo: Unsplash)

The Blessed Mother has a pivotal role in the Catholic Church. As such, there are many titles by which to call Our Lady. While I love them all, I am drawn, in particular, to three: Spouse of the Spirit, Our Lady of Sorrows, and Cause of Our Joy. I find that under each title, I connect to Mary in unique, powerful ways. Perhaps you relate.

Spouse of the Spirit

This title for Our Lady has always both fascinated and attracted me.

The Holy Spirit, our personal Advocate, is one of the greatest gifts Jesus has given us, and receiving the Spirit at our confirmation changes us forever. Yet we can so easily stray from the Spirit’s promptings. Who better to gently remind us of those gifts and the presence of the Spirit than Mary, the very Spouse of the Spirit? When I am feeling lethargic in my faith or slack in virtue, she assists me.

Thirsting to reignite the fire that was lit in your heart at confirmation? Hoping to develop a deeper intimacy with both Mary and the Paraclete? Call upon the Spouse of the Spirit!

Reflect on these words by St. Louis de Monfort: “When the Holy Spirit, her spouse, finds Mary in a soul, he hastens there and enters fully into it. He gives Himself generously to that soul according to the place it has given to his spouse.”

Our Lady of Sorrows

This is the valley of tears, and not one of us will be spared from grief and suffering on this side of eternity. In moments of desolation, I am particularly drawn to the maternal comfort Mary provides as Our Lady of Sorrows. While I don’t believe our grief ever fully equates to hers, she is a heroic example of remaining with Jesus through the grimmest trials and willingly suffering for the glory of God.

There is something so raw and deeply human about her agony. In my suffering, I try to reflect on images of the Mourning Mother. In doing so, she brings me with her to the cross, so there, shoulder to shoulder, we look up and see Jesus’ feet.

As St. Alphonsus Liguori reflected, “This great torment, then, which Mary endured for us — a torment which was more than a thousand deaths — deserves both our compassion and our gratitude. If we can make no other return for so much love, at least let us give a few moments this day to consider the greatness of the sufferings by which Mary became the Queen of martyrs.”

Cause of Our Joy

As near as Mary is to us in our sorrow, she is equally as united to our joy. I think this is one of the many reasons she is such a good mother! As quickly as she will weep with us, she will also celebrate with us.

In many traditional litanies to Mary, she is called Cause of Our Joy, and I love to evoke her by this title, recognizing how deep her joy was as the mother of Jesus and wife of St. Joseph. The simple days they spent together on earth as the Holy Family must have been bursting with delight and peace.

In trying to know Mary better, I have spent time reflecting on what I imagine her laugh might sound like and how she might throw her head back in glee. I imagine the sound to be sweet and full, flowing naturally to the surface, and with great regularity. I’ve always treasured that quality in friends, admiring those who are quick to laugh. Perhaps that is why I like to invite Mary to share in my laughter, too.

This side of heaven, our burdens often feel crushing and there is great temptation to become hardened by our pain. Mary is the antithesis to this notion: Mary’s grief made her heart all the more full, becoming a balm for our aches and a storehouse for our joy.

In this month of May, which we set apart to recognize the beauty of Our Lady, let us not forget her closeness to us! She desires so deeply to bring us to her Son.

St. John Paul the Great said, in his encyclical Redemptoris Mater, “The Mother of Christ, who stands at the very center of this mystery — a mystery which embraces each individual and all humanity — is given as mother to every single individual and all mankind.”

If you are seeking deeper devotion to Mary, here are several simple ways to start today: Pray a Rosary. Go to Mass. Pray a litany and discover a favorite title to call her. Find a favorite image of her and print it/frame it to use for meditation and as a reminder of her nearness.

Mary, Spouse of the Spirit, pray for us! Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us! Mary, Cause of Our Joy, pray for us!

Bridget McCartney Nohara, a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, writes from Ontario, Canada.