Men, I have a confession to make: There’s another woman in my life. She’s beautiful, faithful, holy and strong, and I love her more all the time. Don’t worry, you don’t have to tell my wife— she already knows. I’m talking about the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Brothers, despite what you may think, you need to be devoted to Our Lady. If you want to progress in holiness, if you want to imitate Jesus Christ, if you want to overcome temptation, if you want to be strong in sufferings, if you want to make it safely to heaven, there is no better way than being a faithful son of Mary.
Devotion to Mary is hands down one of the most masculine devotions, and of the great saints who have been most devoted to Mary, the majority are men. Men like St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. John Eudes, St. John Damascene, St. Peter Canisius, St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe— and the list goes on.
You may still be skeptical, but that’s alright. I’m going to give you 5 reasons to love Mary, but know that there are countless others.
1. She is the refuge and hope of sinners – The saints constantly tell us that no one, no matter how great a sinner, will be condemned if they are truly devoted to Mary. Let’s face it, falling into sin can be discouraging. When we fall, we fear God’s punishment, displeasure, and discipline. We wonder if we will ever be saved, or if there is any hope for us. The answer is yes, especially if we fly to Mary.
One of Mary’s most beautiful titles is Refugium Peccatorum, “the refuge of sinners.” In the Old Testament, God instituted cities of refuge, and these cities were safe havens for criminals. If you committed a terrible crime, a crime worthy of death, the only way you could avoid punishment was to run as fast as you could to a city of refuge. Only there would you be safe.
In the New Covenant, Mary is the city of refuge, the safe haven for sinners. When you fall into sin, run as fast as you can to Mary and she will obtain mercy and pardon for you from her Divine Son.
2. She helps us be pure – In the Middle Ages, women were vulnerable. Any brigand could disrespect or even assault a woman and probably get away with it. But that’s not the end of the story. A movement of men began to rise up and commit themselves to chastely protecting and honoring the dignity of women. This movement was known as chivalry, and chivalry was direct byproduct of devotion to Mary.
Living in the modern world is like living through one long temptation to impurity. It is relentless. More than this, women are constantly disrespected and objectified. It’s time for a new movement of chivalry. The more we love Mary, the more she will help us be pure in an evil world. And our devotion to her will instill in us a deep respect for femininity that will cause us to protect women in a world that wants to abuse them and use them.
3. She strengthens us in sufferings – When Jesus was in agony on the cross, the one small consolation he was allowed was the presence of his mother. Think about it, when you were a little boy and you hurt yourself, who did you run to? Your mom. I see my little boy do it all the time with my wife. A mother’s presence is enough to comfort us, even if it doesn’t take away the pain.
Mary is the ultimate comforter, and she helps us carry our crosses as we follow Jesus. When we are hurt physically or emotionally, her presence helps us bear the pain.
4. She crushes demons – Demons are real, and the want to make sure you never make it to heaven. They will send temptation after temptation your way to ensure you fall into sin— temptations to pride, greed, lust, gluttony, sloth, anger, hatred, and unforgiveness.
How can you possibly survive such powerful spiritual enemies? You guessed it, through Mary. After the fall of man, God promised Satan that one day, his head would be crushed by a woman— and that woman is Mary. Satan hates Mary with every fiber of his being, because he knows that she will be the instrument God uses to defeat him.
There’s a deep theological reason for this, and maybe I’ll write on it another time, but for now, know that the devil is powerless against Mary. When you feel yourself overwhelmed by temptation, call on Mary and the demons will flee.
5. Jesus loved her – As Catholic men, our mission to imitate Jesus Christ in every respect. And what did Jesus do? He gave himself totally to Mary. He shared her flesh and blood and she formed him in her womb. He trusted her, he obeyed her even though he was her Lord. As a child, he ran to her when he was hurt or frightened, as is depicted in the beautiful icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. On the cross, her presence comforted him in his agony. In short, Jesus loved Mary intensely and depended on her completely, even though he had no need of doing so.
If we want to be true men in imitation of our Divine Captain, we must likewise submit ourselves humbly and lovingly to Mary. Just as she formed Jesus in her womb, she can form us in a similar manner through grace. Jesus came to us through Mary, and all the graces of God come to us through her. We should go to God the same way he came to us— through Mary. The closer we are to her, the more we will be like Jesus, and if we are like Jesus, we will be the best and truest of men.
When I was converting to Catholicism, Marian devotion was one of the hardest things for me to understand. But the more I learned about Mary, the more I grew to love her. She is truly the most beautiful of women, and I can’t imagine my spiritual life without her.
Men, I challenge you to learn to love this Lady. Start by study the great saints who have loved Mary the most. Learn about their heroic lives and read their writings. Then, immerse yourself in the Marian teachings of the church. They aren’t random, there is a very good reason for each of them. In short, find Mary and you will find Jesus.
Holy Spirit, give me great devotion to Mary, Your faithful spouse; give me great confidence in her maternal heart and an abiding refuge in her mercy, so that by her, You may truly form in me Jesus Christ, great and mighty, unto the fullness of His perfect age. Amen.