A Recent Convert Struggles in her Relationship with Mary

ask-a-carmelite-logo-5-w740x493Dear Sister,

I just recently became Catholic and I’m still struggling with the Church’s teachings on Mary. I respect her, but I don’t feel the need to ask her for prayers if I can just ask God directly. Do you have any suggestions on how I can have a relationship with Mary?

Dear Friend,

Yes, I do! Being a convert myself I can relate to your situation.

First I would ask you to spend some time now and then getting in touch with any unexamined attitudes you may have that may be part of your discomfort with Marian devotion. This could be anything from having been cautioned at some point that ‘Catholics worship Mary’ and the like, to some personal emotional discomfort with the very idea of ‘mother’. Or, perhaps at some point you were exposed to some exaggerated or misguided teaching, preaching or devotions to Mary and learned your discomfort from this experience.

You mentioned not feeling “the need to ask her for prayers if I can just ask God directly”. Certainly there is nothing in a healthy Marian devotion that would discourage us from approaching God directly. But the question itself makes me wonder if one of those unexamined attitudes I mentioned might be a tendency to see Mary and God as being in some kind of opposition or even competition. You surely know this idea would be completely contrary to the Church’s understanding of Mary’s role in Salvation history – but attitudes and prejudices can be very irrational things – well hidden and deeply buried they can remain a part of us in spite of the soundest catechesis!

Along similar lines I would encourage you to gradually include some Marian themes in your spiritual reading. Make a point of reading a variety of authors, however. When you really don’t like the feel of a particular author don’t be afraid to close the book and pick up another. No one has a ‘monopoly’ on Mary, and we all have our own path to follow. Give yourself the time and freedom to find yours. Relationship can take time after all.

Finally, though, and this is far more important than anything else I could say – is there a particular problem, worry, a heartache even – that you are carrying? I can understand where you might not be comfortable with this suggestion, but I am going to make it anyway. Entrust this burden, whatever it is, to Mary. Invite her to deal with it as she sees fit. Ask her “to show herself a mother” – and not only a mother, but your mother. I make this recommendation to you from the testimony of others, yes, but from my own experience as well.

If you will do this, I think ‘relationship’ may not take much time at all.

Thank you for your question and until next time,

Sister Benedicta Marie, O.C.D.


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Promoting a Deeper Spiritual Life Among Families through Healthcare, Education and Retreats

The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles strive to give striking witness as a vibrant, thriving community of dedicated women with an all-consuming mission. It is our God-given mission, a mission of the heart, a mission of loving service to the poor, the sick, the needy and the uneducated. Our loving service overflows from each sister’s profound life of prayer. We strive to reflect His life and hope and His promise to all that light has come into our world and darkness has not overcome it.

A look at the history of our community, with its motherhouse in Alhambra, California, reveals how its life-giving presence has come about. During the beginning decades of the 1900s just as the epic Mexican revolution was subsiding, a ruthless religious persecution was gaining momentum in Mexico. This horrible persecution accompanied the birth and humble beginnings of our community, a legacy that Mother Luisita, our foundress, and her two companions brought with them as religious refugees entering the Unites States in 1927.

Those seeds planted by Mother Luisita, now a candidate for sainthood, have taken deep root in the United States since those early days. People and places have changed throughout the years, yet the heart of our mission remains. As an autonomous religious institute since 1983 we continue to carry out our loving service in our healthcare facilities, retreat houses and schools which remain to this day centers of life and hope. Today we are moving forward together “Educating for Life with the Mind and Heart of Christ” in schools, being “At the Service of the Family for Life” through health and eldercare and “Fostering a Deeper Spiritual Life” through individual and group retreats. At the heart of our vocation is a passionate mission of loving service which facilitates our life-giving encounter with the living God.

The heritage of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles is rooted in the spirituality of Carmel, the Gospels, the Church, with our particular charism derived from our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

In His merciful goodness, God has graced our Institute with the Carmelite charism which has its roots in a long history and living tradition. The spirituality of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross is rooted in this tradition. Carmel means enclosed garden in which God Himself dwells. The divine indwelling in the soul is the foundation of Teresa's doctrine. Thus our vocation is a grace by which contemplation and action are blended to become an apostolic service to the Church.

Our ideal finds a living expression in the life and charism of our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament, whose spirit we faithfully preserve and foster.

Our life is characterized by: - A life of prayer and union with God - A deep love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist - Devotion to our Blessed Mother - Steadfast fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church - Praying for priests - Commitment to works of the apostolate in ecclesial service

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4 Comments

  1. I am finding within myself more and more that while I do pray often to Jesus and God through the Our Father prayer, my prayer to Mary helps me settle myself, and to better prepare myself for listening and sensing a way to reflect the will of the Father in myself, and for others to respond to my level of being a Catholic. As I understand more fully that by honoring Mary we honor motherhood, family, maternal love, that the ground is properly laid for the love we can have in Jesus; a love that can be a bold, permanent, caring, and humble love capable of being shared with more people as each day presents itself. God love you

  2. Sister, you advice is sage counsel, and very sound catechesis, as well. I, too, am a convert to the Church, and even though I have never had any difficulty with Marian devotion, I found your comments and questions to be particularly incisive and spot on. Yes, it’s those questions that were so especially helpful! I look forward to your comments always!

  3. This is a wonderful article, thank you! I am hoping to join the Church soon. Your insight and direction are very helpful. God bless you.

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