One of my sharpest memories as a child is of my grandmother’s house. It was warm, comforting—one of my favorites to visit. At the end of her hallway was a print of Raphael’s “Madonna and Child,” the soft colors and warm tones of which always made me feel peaceful and comforted, as though Mary had the whole house wrapped up in her mantle. Gram lives with us now, and that same print hangs at the end of my hallway, a constant reminder of Our Lady’s presence in our lives and her protection over our family.
Having a devotion to Mary has not only deepened my faith, but it’s helped strengthen our family’s domestic church as well. As St. Louis de Montfort wrote, “Mary always leads us to Jesus.” This has been certainly true in our home.
If you’re ready to deepen your family’s relationship with Our Lady, try this seven-day challenge designed to do just that.
In order to begin a new devotion in our family, we need to make space—both physically and emotionally—for that devotion to grow.
If you walk through our home, you’ll see many pieces of religious art. Having something we can see and even touch helps engage us with our faith. As you get ready to go deeper with Our Lady, create a family prayer space within your home.
Transform a table with the simple addition of a beautiful tablecloth. Adding your family’s favorite books about the faith will draw everyone in and make spiritual reading easy to choose. Make prayer accessible by hanging your rosaries on hooks or putting them out in a bowl. Find a simple print or statue of Our Lady that you love to hang in your home. Let the sight of it remind you to stop and chat with her throughout your day.
Take it further:
Let your children carve out their own prayer spaces. In our home, each child has a little cubby corner in our library that they call their own. They have each chosen an image of Jesus or Mary along with a few faith-based books and holy cards. When I have my morning prayer time, they are most often found in their own prayer spaces looking at books and chatting with Jesus and Mary.
One of the best ways to get to know Mary is by reading the stories about her in the Gospels. Take some time to pull out your family Bible and read it together. See if you notice anything about Mary you never did before.
You’ll find her in the following passages:
● The Annunciation Lk 1:26-38
● Mary’s Visit to Elizabeth Lk 1:39-56
● The Birth of Jesus Lk 2:1-20
● The Presentation at the Temple Lk 2:22-38
● The Finding at the Temple Lk 2:41-52
● The Wedding at Cana Jn 2:1-12
● The Crucifixion Jn 19:25-30
Take your time with Scripture and pray lectio divina as a family. You’ll find resources and an explanation of how to do that on the USCCB’s website (usccb.org). Lectio divina can be tweaked for families with even the smallest children by adding guiding questions to your prayer time and modeling the process by sharing your own insights out loud. You can read more about how to pray lectio divina with children in Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children published by Our Sunday Visitor, which has a section devoted to praying with Mary and the Scriptures.
Today’s challenge is to learn more about Mary by praying the Litany of Loreto. A litany is a prayer that is a series of petitions, and this one is all about Mary. Written in the Middle Ages and officially approved by Pope Sixtus V in 1587, it is full of beautiful names of Mary. You can find the Litany of Loreto on the Vatican’s website (vatican.va).
Choose one of the titles of Mary from the Litany of Loreto that was new to you and do some research into it as a family. Find out why Mary is called by that particular name. Spend some time praying about why that name is meaningful to you.
Throughout history, Mary has appeared to men, women and children all over the world, coming to them as a mom with a message. Read up on one of the Marian apparitions that are approved by the Church.
You might want to consider:
● Our Lady of Fatima
● Our Lady of Lourdes
● Our Lady of Knock
● Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
● Our Lady of Kibeho
● Our Lady of Guadalupe
Make a card or send a picture to your mom or grandma from you and your family to let her know you love her and are thinking of her.
Friday is the day of the week that we remember the Passion of Jesus, which makes today a perfect day for praying the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary and contemplating what Mary experienced that day. Depending on your family’s age and attention span, pray a decade or the full rosary.
Put together a spiritual bouquet for someone you love. If you’ve never done one before, a spiritual bouquet is a collection of prayers that you as a family promise to say on behalf of your loved one. Write them all out on a card and send it in the mail, or bring it by with an actual bouquet of flowers.
Pilgrimages don’t just have to be to far-off shrines. We are blessed in the Archdiocese of Detroit to have many parishes named after Mary. Take some time today to go on a pilgrimage as a family to one of them–walk around, explore the Church and the grounds, take in the art and most importantly, spend some time praying and asking Our Lady to bless your family in a special way.
Park a few blocks away from the parish, and make the rest of your pilgrimage by foot, praying along the way for your family’s intentions.
Today take a moment after mass, either in your pew or in front of your parish’s statue of Our Lady, and offer a prayer of gratitude for the week, and especially for the day of rest ahead of you. Ask Mary to intercede for you before the throne of her Son that your day might be peaceful.
Take it further
Offer a decade of the rosary for your pastor who spends his Sunday ministering to others.
If you’ve loved these challenges and want to continue liturgical living, check out the book 52 Sundays at 52Sundays.com or sign up to receive the weekly emails for free. 52 Sundays has great resources for your family to help you expand on what you heard at mass through fun activities, tasty recipes, the saints, fun facts and more.
To further nurture your family’s devotion to Mary, consider completing a Marian Consecration as a way to continue honoring her within your domestic church.