St. Theresa of Avila says that prayer is simply finding time in silence to talk to the friend that I know loves me. After God Himself the person that we should desire to talk most to is the Blessed Virgin Mary. Actually Mary ardently yearns for all of her sons and daughters to enter into frequent, fervent and filial conversation with her.

As in any friendship it grows by frequent visits, growing dialogue, and growing knowledge of the beloved friend.  Jesus called the Apostles friends at the Last Supper. Mary is the Daughter of the Father, the Mother of the Son and the mystical spouse of the Holy Spirit, in her relationship with God.

In her relationship with us she is our life, our sweetness and our hope. She is our Queen and friend, but most especially she is our mother.  

What might be some concrete ways that we can establish a growing relationship with Mary?  Indeed this growth in intimacy with Mary, the Mother of God and our mother, will result in countless blessings in this life as well as salvation for all eternity.

The ways, prayers, conversations with Mary are numerous. It is up to each and every one of us to immerse ourselves in this fathomless abyss of conversation with God’s “Masterpiece of creation” (St. Louis de Montfort). Off we go!

1.    HAIL MARY.   Of all the prayers that we can say to Mary, the prayer that she loves most is the Hail Mary.  Once St. Gertrude the Great saw Jesus in heaven counting golden coins. Fascinated the saint asked Jesus what this meant as He deposited another glimmering, shiny golden coin on top of the pile. Immediately Jesus responded by saying that every time she said an attentive and loving Hail Mary then He deposited for all eternity another golden coin in store for Gertrude for all eternity.  Want to be multi-millionaires in heaven?  Pray the Hail Mary with love and devotion!

2.     ANGELUS.  Pray the Angelus three times a day: at 9:00. a.m., 12 noon, and 6:00 p.m.   This pious Marian practice of prayer helps us to sanctify the morning, the afternoon and the evening with the memory of Mary’s role in the Incarnation of the Son of God and His Paschal Mystery, Passion death and Resurrection of Jesus--- the key moments and hinges of our salvation .

3.      SALVE REGINA/HAIL HOLY QUEEN. A marvelous prayer that we pray after the Rosary.  This calls to mind the wonderful truth that Mary is Our Heavenly Queen; she is full of mercy, “Hail Holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope”. Also in the midst of the battles of life and our sadnesses and sorrows Mary is always there to help us. Incidentally read the GLORIES OF MARY, written by the Doctor of the Church, St Alphonsus Maria Liguouri, which is nothing less than a running and beautiful commentary, using Biblical passages, sayings from the lives of the saints and application of colorful stories of the power and presence of Mary.

4.     MEMORARE.  This prayer attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux has been loved by many for more than 1500 years.  During a very dark period of his life in which he had almost given in to despair, St. Francis de Sales knelt in the church of Our Lady of Victory, prayed the Memorare to Our Lady, and immediately this cloud and cloak of despair disintegrated.  The young Francis conquered the temptation went on to become a priest, Bishop, gifted writer, and saint. However, if it were not through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the prayer the Memorare, Francis may have never conquered the devil of despair in his life.

5.    SUB TUUM PRAESIDIUM. This is considered to be the oldest known prayer dedicated to Mary the Mother of God. It was discovered in Egypt on a piece of papyrus dating back close to 250 a.d.   The prayer is short but dense in content.  “We fly to your patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin.”    In the history of the Church, in the midst of the terrible torments and tempests in which it seemed as if the Bark of Peter—the church—was about to capsize and sink, it was through the intercession of Mary and the church confidently invoking her that the Church was saved. Venerable Father Bruno Lanteri , founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, noted that the great heresies of the church were conquered through the intercession of Mary, the “Conqueror of all the heresies”. It is she who crushes the head of the ugly serpent as was prophesied in the Proto-Evangelium.  “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between her offspring and yours. Her heel will crush your head.” (Gen. 3:15).

6.     The LITANY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY.   One of the best ways to honor a person is to highlight his/her virtues or beautiful attributes.  This being said, one of the most beautiful prayers that can be said to honor Mary is “The Litany of Mary”.  There are many, but the most famous is the “Litany of Loreto”.   This is simply a long  but beautiful prayer in which a string of poetic, Biblical phrases or sayings are composed honoring the many virtues of Mary. Many are taken from the Old Testament; others from the New Testament and still others from art and the treasury of the saints.  Traditionally the Litany has been prayed after the Holy Rosary, but can be prayed in any time or place.  Any time or place we lift up our hearts to honor Mary our heavenly Mother, causes her to rejoice.

7.    NOVENAS TO MARY.  The nature of a novena is simply to pray nine days consecutively. The novena can be to a saint, before a specific Feast-day or Solemnity, like Christmas or Easter or even in preparation for the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.  However, in the Diary of St. Faustina Kowlaska, the saint frequently would make a novena before Marian Solemnities, specifically the Assumption of Mary into Heaven and the Immaculate Conception.  How did St Faustina do it? Do not be shocked   now!  Faustina would pray 1000 Hail Marys every one of the days before the Marian feast.   Every Hail Mary, the Blessed Virgin would rejoice immensely.  Now this does not mean that every novena we do to honor Mary we must pray 1000 Hail Marys, but we could choose some Marian prayer. Why not pray the Holy Rosary in family or in church or with friends nine days in a row.

8.    NOVENA TO MARY FOR THE DEAD.  Following up on the idea of a novena, why not form a “Grieving group” in the church to pray nine days in a row the Holy Rosary for the deceased.  Apply this Golden-Rule to yourself. I am sure that upon your death you would greatly desire a novena of Rosaries prayed for the sake of your immortal soul. Great “Fire-insurance” to say the least.  Mary has great love for all but especially the poor suffering souls in Purgatory, but Mary is waiting for our prayers.

9.    MASS AND HOLY COMMUNION UNITED WITH MARY.   At the foot of the cross on Calvary stood Mary. (Stabat Mater).  Like a priest, Mary offered Jesus the spotless Victim to the Father for the salvation of the world.  Blessed Pope John Paul II made this acute observation.  The “Yes” of Mary in the Annunciation can be compared to our “Amen” when we receive Holy Communion in Mass.  Why the comparison?    Simple! Mary’s “yes” to the Archangel Gabriel resulted in Jesus entering into the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In a parallel way, our “Amen” in the moment of Holy Communion results in a Eucharistic Incarnation of Jesus in our hearts and souls. Why not beg Mary for the grace to make more fervent Holy Communions. Nobody ever received Jesus into her heart with greater faith hope and love then Mary.

10.HOLY ROSARY.   Related to the Hail Mary--- recited 50 times—this is the favorite prayer of the Blessed Virgin Mary.   In 1917 Our Lady of Fatima appeared to three shepherd children six times.  Each time Our Lady left a different message. However every one of the six times she also repeated the same message and it was, PRAY THE ROSARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If a mother repeats herself to her children it is because the mother believes that that message is important. If our Heavenly Mother repeats herself actually six times, then the message must be of supreme importance—a matter of eternal life or death.  One concrete suggestion: pray the family Rosary, especially in the month of October, which is the month of the Rosary. If possible, pray the Rosary before dinner, let the father of the family lead the Rosary, have beautiful images of Jesus and Mary and the Rosaries ready in the basket and candles lit.   If done, countless blessings will descend upon the family and the whole world.  Remember the immortal words of the Rosary-priest, Father Patrick Peyton:  “The family that prays together, stays together.” And “A world at prayer is a world at peace.” May our Lady fill our families with joy and love and harmony and attain lasting peace to our world!