Cradle Catholic Sheena Andrews writes about how, much later in life, she came to love and cherish the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Although I grew up in a traditional Catholic family and recited the Rosary everyday at family prayer, my relationship with the Blessed Virgin was that of a teenage girl’s relationship with her mother. I was never close to her, never appreciated her love towards me, always had an indifference when I was told to pray to her, and was never convinced how capable she was.

In our society across the cultures, women are considered ‘second grade citizens’, despite having made so much progress through the past decades. While men love to be seen as powerful and to view women as powerless, women often feel more comfortable admitting men are superior. Devotion to Mother Mary gets complicated for men and women equally partly because of the gender factor. This is without regarding all the voices against devotion to the Blessed Virgin and only considering people born and raised knowing Mary as part of their faith.

Although I learned of Mary’s role in salvation in catechism, I was never able to personalise it. Even when I personally encountered Jesus Christ and grew deeper in that relationship, Mary was not more than the daily Rosary that was boring and repetitive. But I never gave up the habit of saying Rosaries daily, sometimes even more than one depending on the urgency of the favour I was seeking. I knew Mary was the best intercessor, so I prayed Rosaries for various intentions.

It all started changing when I got a small rosary as a gift made by the kids of a Jesus Youth in India. The rosary was small and beautiful and made of clear beads, I loved those rosaries so much I started saying Rosaries with a new found interest. It felt as though the kids made the rosary with so much love and prayer that it touched me in a very special way.

Around that time I heard about Marian consecration and I decided to consecrate myself to Mother Mary with 33 days of preparatory prayers. Although I did not experience anything extraordinary after the consecration I felt more love towards Mary. In the meantime my husband was also doing the Marian consecration and I noticed how he had been moved by great love towards the Blessed Virgin. His enthusiasm to recite multiple Rosaries especially on the Blessed Virgin’s feast days was almost puzzling to me. I was curious why I did not have that kind of intense love for Mother Mary.

Then it was time to renew our consecration the following year. We decided to do it together. We started on November 29 to end on January 1st. I was in for discovering the greatest treasure in my life, the intimate bond with my mother. On December 8th, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, to my surprise, the reflection in the book I used (33 days to Morning Glory) was on Immaculate Conception. As I read through the lines, I felt the Holy Spirit stirring in me, in a gentle but very powerful way. I was in awe of the perfection and uniqueness of Mary in the great work of salvation. I came into a great understanding of how the Holy Spirit and Mother Mary are deeply united and continue the work of salvation to this day. I understood how I had such a hard time praying for in-filling of the Holy Spirit because I left out the easy but essential route through Mother Mary. The rest of the days of consecration was a life changing time for me. I was expecting my seventh child at that time. We decided to name her Maria in honor of the Virgin Mother, and since the child was inside me as I consecrated myself, she too was consecrated to the Blessed Mother even before birth. I ended up delivering her seven weeks early and my heavenly mother’s presence was there during delivery and the NICU stay afterwards.

I started experiencing my heavenly mother’s real presence in my daily life. I started reciting every Hail Mary with so much love. I felt like I was adopted into the family of the Father Son and Holy Spirit and my Mother. When I look back at my spiritual rebirth and growth which started once I got involved with Jesus Youth movement, I see how I fell in love with the Son. He introduced me to his mother and how she guided me to the true experience of my loving Father and the ever present Spirit, her holy spouse.

Now I always run to her, whenever I stumble, on the days I feel like my life is falling apart and see how she puts it all back in place with her loving intercession. The miracle at the Wedding at Cana is where I get reassurance even in the lowest moments of my life. When my wine is about to run out, when I am about to get ridiculed, when the dreams and desires of my heart seem to fade away, I know she steps in and asks her Son to intervene. The lively relationship I have with her makes my relationship with her Son stronger. We together adore and worship him, the Saviour God. She who perfectly understands the will of the Father God helps me discern the will of God in my life by simply seeking her intercession. She helps me receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit because she is espoused to him eternally.

She is the strongest woman ever created, she is the perfection of creation. If any woman wants to empower herself, she only has to learn from the Mother, who in her gentle most feminine way achieved what no other man or woman could ever achieve,  the salvation of mankind, by saying yes to the will of God. She is the one who made a difference in the world, an everlasting impact by delivering a child in the manger and by standing at the foot of the cross. Any woman can connect with her and learn from her because she is so simple and approachable. She can bear all your burdens and take it to her Son, who always has ears for her. She will take you to the most personal and deeper understanding of the Holy Trinity because she is the one human who is deeply connected to all three.

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