Praying with Mary

To be a companion and follower of Christ is to take part in an active process of purification, illumination (that includes meditation and contemplation) and unity. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, comes to mind as a model for such a life as we approach the final weeks of Advent and enter the Christmas season. In Mary, the illegitimate is made legitimate. When the Angel of the Lord makes God’s plans known to her for her life, completely out of the blue for her, what is her response but, “Be it unto me according to your Word!” (Luke 1:38) And, so it is the Word made flesh that comes to each of us.

Advent reminds us that God’s purpose for our lives is true union with God and unity with one another. It is our only hope and it will be accomplished. And, as this season reminds us, our spirits, like Mary’s will rejoice.

unknownIn this season of reflection, I invite you to explore Mary’s Song as part of your Advent observance.  Notice that this song takes its place in Christian worship on the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete (literally, Rejoice!) Sunday. Even the color of the day changes from blue to pink, moving our hearts from long wintery darkness to the pink that signals the dawning of a new day.

The Reverend Martin L. Smith offers some suggestions for praying with scripture[1] such as Mary’s Song. Smith’s ideas come out of a prayer tradition known as Lectio Divina or simply Divine Reading. Settle into a quiet space, inviting God to bring to you what is intended. Begin with a prayer such as this prayer for purity from The Book of Common Prayer: “Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Read a piece of scripture, such as Mary’s Song, deliberately, without intense study, allowing the words to unfold. Free your curiosity to get the better of you! Enter as one participating in the drama of the words. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel? Or, just stay with the impression that the words leave on you. Perhaps there is one phrase or word that stands out to you. Spend some time with this phrase or word until it has made its full impression on you. As impressions pass, allow yourself to end the time gently. End the time with a intentional silence filled with gratitude for what you have received, then offer a simple prayer of thanks.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,

my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;

for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:

the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him

in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,

he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,

and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel,

for he has remembered his promise of mercy,

The promise he made to our fathers,

to Abraham and his children for ever.

(Magnificat, Luke 1:46-55, BCP)


Mary’s Song was her response. What will ours be?

© 2016, Douglas A. Beck

[1] Martin Smith. A Season for the Spirit. New York: Seabury Books. 2004. 187-189.