Mary’s Role in our Ongoing Journey into Faith

Gerard Gallagher explores using YouCat as a catechetical resource.
Students carry a statue of Mary to the altar during a May crowning ceremony. Photo: CNS
Students carry a statue of Mary to the altar during a May crowning ceremony. Photo: CNS


Recently in a hospital I noticed a doctor wearing a miraculous medal. It almost seemed out of place. I casually observed it to him and he said Our Lady helps him to keep everyone safe! What was more unusual was his trust in Mary. This was the same trust that the first apostles gave to Mary. This is the same trust that the Church gives to Mary today to intercede for on our behalf. She is united with Jesus is a way that no other being was or is. She has a pre-eminent place in the ‘communion of saints’.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church points out that “What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ”. (CCC487)

YouCat has various questions and answers about Mary. Take the question of Why is Mary our Mother also?

“Women behold your son!…Behold your mother.” (Jn 19:26b-27a) The second command, which Jesus spoke from the Cross to John, has always  been understood by the Church as an act of entrusting the whole Church to Mary. Thus Mary is our mother, too. We may call upon her and ask her to intercede with God.”

There is a longing in each of us for God whether we recognise it or not. The revelation of God to Mary received automatic Yes. Mary’s yes to God was a Yes to the continued revelation of God. We are told in the Gospels that once Mary realised this she “went in haste” to tell someone. Similarly in the account of the Apostles on the Road to Emmaus once they understood this new “burning” they “set out immediately”.

Scattered around the highways and byways of Ireland are shrines and statues of our Lady, demonstrating a historical appreciation of faith to our Lady. They are from a time where devotion to Mary was represented in this manner. Going further back we have Holy Wells and Church’s dedicated to Mary also. Probably the most famous is Knock Shrine, Co. Mayo, where our Lady’s appearance took many years to fully understand. The image of Our Lady with Joseph, John, the Lamb of God all point towards Eucharist. In this manner our understanding of Mary can be understood in the context of our understanding of Eucharist. Pope John Paul II, who had a particularly personal devotion to Mary, in his Encyclical Mater Redemportoris, notes, “If we wish to rediscover in all its richness the profound relationship between the Church and the Eucharist, we cannot neglect Mary, Mother and model of the Church.” (53)

There are a growing number of the younger generations and I include teenagers, young adults and many young parents who have an absence of a memory of praying the Rosary or devotion to Mary. This is a method of prayer that is alien to many of them. Similarly they have no memory of May altars, Processions and Sunday devotions. However this decline is also marked a decline in personal commitment to faith. Connected to this is also a decline in their personal relationship with God. It was the philosopher Fuerbach who is also quoted in YouCat who noted, “When faith in the Mother of God declines, faith in the Son of God the Father declines also”.

In the future young Catholics will need many gifts to remain faithful to the challenges of living the Faith. Ironically it is the young people who remain faithful to the Church that are viewed as ‘conservative’. Some leaders in the Church don’t seem to trust this generation as the future. However we must trust this young generation including the faithful ones! We got to have hope.