These days when it comes to sharing insights on the Mother of God, I get a tingly sensation. It wasn’t always like this. This new found flame was sparked by the COVID-19 lockdown. Yes, something good came out of it for me – a remarkable intimacy with my Maker which I owe to Mama Mary. She did to me what she does for us all – she led me to a greater intimacy with Her Son, Jesus Christ.
The journey has been amazing. It has been a blend of seeking knowledge from Scripture and the riches of the Catholic Church. One such treasure can be found in the prayers from the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary made popular by St Louis de Montfort and prayed by lay Carmelites. This is an expose of the prayers for those who wish to delve into the words of the Little Office prayers which we pray daily.
AT DAWN – 5AM LITTLE OFFICE PRAYERS
Opening my office at dawn has always been a challenge for me. I love my sleep. As in…love! One of the things I decided to reduce during lent was my dependency on sleep, as it started to resemble the vice of sloth. To wake up at 5am to pray always seemed like a herculian task but when the import of the “Clear Star of the Morning” was explained, it dawned on me (excuse the pun) that I needed to take this more seriously. I needed to command my day and the first thing I needed to do each day was to” summon my lips and proclaim the spotless fame” of Mama Mary. Indeed, we start the day by anointing our lips and commanding them to proclaim the mercy and glory of God made manifest in the Blessed Virgin Mary.
We call upon Her to protect us since there is a danger of our soul being lost to mortal sin. This reminds me of a prayer I have started saying which includes the words; “Mother Mary, do not let me commit mortal sin.” In our 5am prayers, we ask Mother Mary to make haste to befriend us and to use Her powers to protect us as we start the new day.
The hymns sung at 5am hail Mother Mary as the Queen of the Heavens. It was explained that it is a great honor to be in the same presence as a queen and to welcome royalty and so we should be grateful for such a privilege. We also hail Her as Mistress of the earth since she is in charge of us all, looks after Her children and protects us from sin. She cannot allow us to fall into sin and allow Her pain and Her Son’s torture and death be in vain.
The dogma of the perpetual virginity of Mary is seen when we hail Her as “Virgin most pure .” This is seen in Her pre-figuration in the Old Testament and in Numbers 30:10-15 where we infer that Mary had taken a vow of chastity since she was surprised at how she would become pregnant upon hearing the announcement from Angel Gabriel. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception can also be seen in the hymn as Mary is hailed as the Virgin of immaculate birth and the New Eve.
It was when the words “Clear Star of the Morning in beauty enshrined” were explained, that I knew that I had to change my sleeping pattern. Jesus is known as the Sun of Justice and the Light of the World. The Morning Star tells us that the morning is coming, just like Mary heralded the new morning era of Jesus and as she still leads us to Jesus. We were also made to understand that just like a star gets all its brightness from the sun, so too does Mother Mary shine because of God.
The special nature of Mary and Her relationship with the Holy Spirit who is God, is highlighted in the words which follow. They suggest that God planned Mary from eternity and adorned Her by making Her the most perfect form of all humans: “Thee God in the depth of eternity chose! And formed thee all fair as His Glorious spouse” God truly picked Mary to be special by singling Her out in His call to be the Mother of His Son – the Mother of God Himself.: “God elected her and pre-elected her…”
AT 6AM – LAUDS
After we awake and launch into the first office prayers, we contemplate God’s plan to make Mary into a temple for Himself. For 9 months, Mary housed God and is hailed in the hymn as the “Deity’s Shrine.” She is the shrine which is adorned with the “seven fair pillars” which can be seen to symbolize the seven heavenly virtues. She is full of these virtues, being full of grace. Another interpretation to these words could be that God built a home in Mary just like He builds his church. This church is what is described as having seven fair pillars which symbolize the seven sacraments; with the Eucharist being what is referred to as “table divine.”
The 6am hymn also hails Mary as “Virgin most wise”. Wisdom is described as a beautiful woman who prepares the table and tries to draw souls in Proverbs 9:1. Jesus is also referred to as Wisdom and we know that He built His home in Mary for 9 months, making Her His shrine.
As we sing the words “Preserved from the guilt which hath come on us all; exempt in the womb from the taint of the fall”, we echo our belief that Mary is the New Eve. This is enshrined in paragraph 975 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church confirming that she was conceived without sin like Eve.
What I love about insights of Mary is that we must journey into God’s word, especially the Old Testament to give Her the honour which is due to Her. She always leads us on a journey into God’s Word to know Him more deeply. Numbers 24:17 speaks of glory and honor being brought to the house of Jacob and this is alluded to when we hail her as the “new star of Jacob.” She is hailed as the “Queen of Angels” which is seen in the depiction of a crown upon Her head in Revelations 12:1-2 and she is the “Gate of the Saints “since she obtains graces which lead all of us to sanctity.
Perhaps the most exciting part of my relationship with Mother Mary is my absolute glee when I recall that She is the one who has crushed the head of the serpent and defeated the chief demon, satan. She is described as “terrible as an embattled array” and this explains the power of praying one single “Hail Mary” from the heart. As our mother, we take refuge in Her and are at peace. We allude to Her being God’s masterpiece, as we pray the words: “The Lord Himself created Her in the Holy Ghost and poured her out among all His works.” Imagine being poured out by God! As the noblest of all creatures, we honor her and this is evident in these first two early morning prayers.
AT 9 AM –