Ever experience one of those my-heart-is-singing-with-joy moments? My friend has. “I whispered to St. John Paul II, ‘pray with me and for me that God will bless my life with a grandchild.’” Heaven’s response came after three and a half days. “Mom! I’m pregnant,” announced her daughter. “Wow! That was quick!” I exclaimed. “Isn’t God amazing?” clapped my friend.
In my case, fear gripped me, first. I could not find a valuable set of keys. I searched in the usual places, twice, thrice, my heart racing, “Could I have moved it to another storage?” I was beginning to blame my erratic memory. Folding my hands, I closed my eyes and begun a private novena to Mary, Undoer of Knots. “Oh, Mama Mary, undo this knot for me.” That same night, I found the keys. I was literally gasping in disbelief. Could Mama Mary have been so worried for me to respond urgently to my request? I know, I know, this petition could have been raised to St. Anthony, but for some reason, the first person I thought of was Mama Mary. (Mind you, in my books, St. Anthony won’t be “dismissed” that easily).
My friend’s case and that of mine were not unique. Many of us resort to calling on angels and saints to intercede for us. In human terms, this is like seeking the help of beloved family and friends to say or put in a good word on our behalf, to someone who is in a position to extend or offer help or assistance. “Sige na naman, ipakiusap mo ako?”
Monsignor “Monsi” Sabino A. Vengco, Jr. covered this topic in his book “Itanong kay Monsi”. Others have challenged, “Why pray to the saints when we can pray direct to God?”
Monsi replied: Saints share in the holiness that essentially belongs to God. Holiness, as a gift or grace from God is first imparted to the faithful (us) in Baptism and by the work of the Holy Spirit. Thus, in the New Testament, Christians as members of the People of God sanctified in Jesus Christ, are generally referred to as “saints” because they are called to be holy, to live up according to the gifts they have already received.
When we pray the Apostles’ Creed, there’s a line there that says, “I believe in the communion of saints,”
Monsi Vengco explains, “This means, firstly, that the Church is a communion in holy things like the faith we have received from the apostles, our communal life in the Holy Spirit, and our sacred liturgy of Word and sacraments. Secondly, the Church is a communion of holy people (made up of)
1) pilgrims (us) on earth, called to holiness and living in the holy things mentioned;
2) beloved dead, those temporarily being purified still; and
3) saints, those already welcomed in God’s eternal glory.
We on earth are thus, in kinship with those who are already in heaven. However, saints can never replace God. They are our brethren (or comrade, associate, friend and chum) whom we hold in deep respect and with thanksgiving.
God ALONE is adored.
When we venerate the saints, we see God’s saving love. Even if saints are already in heaven, they continue their works of charity on earth; they do not cease to intercede for us. Their brotherly concern helps our weakness greatly. Think St. Joseph, Father Pio, etc.
Be wary, however, that devotion to the saints does not distract us from the center of our faith: God through Jesus Christ.
Another question was raised. “Why are there different devotions to Jesus, as well as to Mary?”
I saw a sticker that described what a father is: Provider, teacher, coach, spiritual guide, bodyguard, chaperon, joker, champion, a comfy pillow, you name it.
Jesus is the same. He’s the Black Nazarene, the Divine Mercy, the Sacred Heart, the Good Shepherd, and others. Each role drives home the point of Jesus’ love for humanity. His mercy and forgiveness are far greater than our sins as He leads us all to eternal life with Him.
Monsi Vengco explained Mary’s role:
At the Annunciation, Mary responded like a Child, full of trust and gladness or Caire, dependent on someone more senior. Her agenda? “God will take care, I will listen and I will follow.” Her early stages of Faith was born of conviction to obey God’s will.
At the Visitation, filled with gladness, she was excited to share the good news with her cousin Elizabeth.
At her pregnancy, Mary became the “holy tabernacle” providing a sanctuary to the Holy Child in her womb.
Her maturity of Faith was manifested in Cana. When Jesus referred to her as “woman”, it wasn’t to discredit her but to emphasize her changed role: She’s now the Partner of Jesus. She was His eyes and ears. She believed Jesus is our salvation and He can never do anything wrong.
At Crucifixion, when Jesus addressed her again as “woman”, Mary became a Steward, with power. Her role was now that of a Mother to all of Jesus’ disciples, his followers, including us.
In summary, Mary was a Child (dependent on Someone), a Disciple (listened and followed the word of God), and a Steward (spread the good news).
Like a diamond with many facets, Mary was different from every angle. She shows her love in various ways, in every title she holds.
“Let us bring Mary to every home, bringing up God’s word through her,” said Monsi Vengco.
Like Mary, may we spread the good news of salvation.
Who can refuse her?