Addie Ink Slingers Mary

Mary, My Mother


Sobbing in my car, I heard myself scream, “I can’t do this!  I don’t know how to be a mother!” I was in my late twenties and expecting our first son.  At that time, I was working about twelve hours a day at a job I loved, and I couldn’t stop worrying about how my life would change after I gave birth.  I had never thought of myself as “maternal,” at least not in the stereotypical way; I never babysat as a teenager, I didn’t gush over babies the way my friends did.  For that matter, I had never even changed a diaper! My wonderful husband and I had been married for four years, and had decided it was time to start our family. But now I doubted myself…would I be a good mother?  

I felt deeply ashamed, and I was afraid to talk to any of my girlfriends about my worries.  Out of desperation, I called my trusted friend, Father Jim, who had been my pastor at a previous parish.  After listening to my concerns, he asked, “Have you talked to our Blessed Mother about this?”

Well, um…no.  I was raised “Batholic” – half Catholic and half Baptist.  I had embraced Catholicism as a teenager, but I never quite got on the Mary bandwagon.  While I connected with so many of the traditions of the Church, Marian devotion was not one of them.  It seemed a little weird to me, and perhaps even idolatrous; why should we put that much emphasis on Mary, when we could just go straight to Jesus, right?   

Later that week, I received a letter from Father Jim.  In it, he enclosed a prayer card with an image of the Visitation, an obviously pregnant Mary with her cousin Elizabeth, who was also expecting John the Baptist.  Father Jim encouraged me and asked me to consider praying the Rosary regularly.

Dutifully, I found my Rosary and started praying it every day on my half hour drive to work.  It was somewhat awkward at first, as I struggled to remember which mysteries were which, and had to read the Hail Holy Queen from a prayer card.  Within a couple of weeks, though, I settled into a routine, and prayed daily with intention and ease. I started to feel like I had a real friend in the Blessed Mother.  I began to feel her presence with me as we prayed together to her Son. I grew comfortable asking her to intercede for me to the Father. And several months later, I turned to her when I was in labor.  During those seemingly endless twenty-three hours, I frequently meditated on the mysteries of the Rosary. I knew my Heavenly Mother had been by my side during my pregnancy, and I could feel her presence during those wee hours, too.

St. John Paul the Great implored us, “Turn to Mary most holy, your heavenly Mother; pray to her with fervor, especially by means of the rosary; invoke her daily, in order to be authentic imitators of Christ in our day.”*  We further learn from the Catechism, “‘The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship…From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs…This very special devotion…differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration.'”**  Rather that detracting from Christ, true devotion to Mary always draws us closer to her Son. Our Blessed Mother was our Lord’s first and most faithful disciple; of course it would only please her to serve as a lens through which we see her Son more clearly.

If you haven’t yet embraced Marian devotion, may I gently encourage you to do so?  During this month of the Rosary, start small with just one decade, reflecting with Mary on one Gospel mystery, and gradually add in more decades.  I am not always faithful in praying the Rosary regularly, but when I do, I always find myself more at peace, and closer to Christ.


* “Mondays with Mary” (Tom Perna)

** Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 971

Ink Slingers Motherhood Sacramentals Susan

Stop Running in Circles & Accept Our Lady’s Gift

Everyone has their own story from 9/11/2001. When my husband called me on the phone from work, I turned on the television and watched the events of the day in disbelief. Then all of a sudden, I ran up to my bedroom and put on my Brown Scapular; it has been on ever since. I finally chose to accept my Mother’s help.

Up to that day I had been toiling with the idea of wearing the Scapular. I would have it on my bed stand at night and keep it in my pocket during the day. But wearing it under my garments made me feel strange. I was a convert, and still had preconceived notions about Mary that were not accurate. The tug-o-war in my thoughts and heart would not settle and decide. But the morning of 9/11 convinced me that I needed Our Mother and it was time to move forward. Sadly, it took seeing the 9/11 atrocities for me to realize life is too short to be undecided on life.

Now in 2017 we find the Church celebrating the 100th anniversary of the visits of Our Lady of Fatima to the three shepherd children. There are many reminders of her messages and this year’s indulgences, but a dear friend pointed out that none of the lists she has read mentioned the Scapular as part of her message to the children and to us. We discussed and researched why this may be. It seems from my findings that the Scapular is disregarded by many Catholics. Some say it is not historically accurate; others believe it to be superstition. Yet there are valid traditions and promises that have continued to be taught by the Popes that go back to the Middle Ages. Additionally, misuse of this sacramental comes from lack of education, not superstition. Being that we are women, many of us mothers, seeking to follow Our Lady’s example, there is much to be gained from accepting the gift of the Brown Scapular for ourselves and for our children.

The scapular is a rectangular garment with a hole in the middle for the person’s head to fit through so that the remainder hangs over the shoulders before and behind the person’s body. This apron-like garment has been part of the monks’ habit as a sign of their willingness to serve and work since the time of St. Benedict. The monks wear it on the outside, but lay people wear a smaller version under their garments. The Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel has been a sign since the 1300s that the wearer has given his life to Mary in a very special way, called consecration. Our Lady, surrounded by angels, appeared to St. Simon Stock in 1251 to give him a scapular for the Carmelite order to wear. He had been pleading for help for his failing order, and this apparition was an answer to his prayer. It has been held credible that her words, known as the Scapular Promise, were spoken to him and that her protection extends to all, even lay Catholics, who wear the Brown Scapular. Her words were, “Receive, my beloved son, this habit of thy order. Whoever dies invested with this Scapular shall be preserved from eternal flames. It is a sign of salvation, a sure safeguard in danger, a pledge of peace and of my special protection until the end of ages.” This means “those who wear the Scapular devoutly will either persevere in the state of sanctifying grace, or they will be granted the grace of perfect contrition at the hour of death.”

At Fatima in 1917 the Scapular was presented in a silent vision conveying to the shepherd children its importance: on October 13th in the third vision in the sky Mary appeared as Our Lady of Mount Carmel holding out the Brown Scapular. Some think that since Mary said nothing, then the Brown scapular is not necessary. But Lucia, the one shepherd child whom God kept on earth until recent years, has shed light on this issue. When asked why Our Lady appeared as Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the last vision, she answered, “Because Our Lady wants all to wear the Scapular…The reason for this is that the Scapular is our sign of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” Then she said, “The Scapular and Rosary are inseparable.” (Mary in Her Scapular Promise, James Mathias Haffert, AMI Press 1954). So, if we pray the Rosary, desire peace, conversion and holiness, the natural next step is to give ourselves and our children entirely to Jesus through Mary. We can do so wearing the Brown Scapular.

The Scapular certainly is a garment made by Our Blessed Mother for her children; it parallels Christ’s seamless garment that was made by his Mother and for which lots were cast at his crucifixion. It was one woven piece with an opening for his head. So, too, is the Scapular; when wearing it, we are wearing her carefully designed “garment of grace.” Hence, the Scapular is a sacramental help, meaning it can provide us with grace according to our disposition and openness. It serves as a reminder to follow the call to holiness not as orphans, but as loved children. After 16 years of wearing mine, I cannot imagine not having it on; it has reminded me to keep reaching for God in the darkest of times.

Related topics worth researching are Marian Consecration, Home Enthronement to the Two Hearts, and First Saturday devotion. If you have never heard of consecration to Jesus through Mary, I suggest you research St. Louis de Montfort and read Morning Glory by Father Gaitley. This book is beautiful for adults and teens. Home Enthronements are beautiful, and once it is done, things change for the better in the home. It it a way for your family to invite Jesus and Mary into your home. First Saturdays are a lovely devotion to make reparation for those who do not love Our Blessed Mother.

I will end with a family story: Our family decided to Enthrone our home and our whole family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary years ago. My youngest was about 3 or 4. Enthronements includes a short ceremony, which is long to a 4 year old, then enrollment into the Brown Scapular Confraternity for anyone not yet enrolled. I was having my two youngest enrolled that day, but not with their acceptance. During the prayer ceremony when my youngest kept running in circles in and out of the living room, I was not expecting her to get enrolled. Father came to the point to enroll the girls and all of a sudden my youngest came to a braking halt right in front of him. He proceeded with the enrollment blessing while she stood so still, so sweet; we were all in smiles. Then when Father was done, she went immediately back to running in circles! It was funny, but a clear witness that the souls of children desire Our Lady’s help and they love her. We adults make faith and devotion so complicated. But before Mary we can learn to be children again. By the way, my daughters have not taken the Scapulars off since that day, and they are 14 and 16 now!

I invite you to explore these devotions and make them a part of your lives and your families’ lives. May we all be blessed! Amen.


Brown Scapular

When you research the Brown Scapular you will find it must be made of woven brown (or black) wool, with or without pictures of Our Lady on it, and attached by any type of cord to lay over the shoulders so the wool squares hang in front and behind the heart. The Church asks a few things from those who wear the Scapular in order that they may receive the Promises of Our Lady; wearing the Scapular is not simply a free ticket to heaven.

From a vision to Pope John XXII and his communication to the Church in a papal bull in 1322, and through subsequent Popes over the centuries, the following is expected for the wearer of the Scapular:

  1. One is to be lawfully enrolled in the Brown Scapular Confraternity which is for life (easy to do with the help of a priest. See below);
  2. One must observe chastity according to one’s state in life;
  3. and one of the following: Pray the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin daily, or
    Observe the required fasts of the Church as well as fasting from meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays, or
    Pray the Rosary (5 decades) daily, or
    With permission, substitute another good work

Scapular Enrollment:

You will need Brown Scapulars and holy water on that day. You can find them on Etsy and Ebay. Also, The Catholic Company sells ones with long cords which are comfortable to adults and women who want to tuck the cords under their undergarments. But look around for fair prices. BTW, my mother-in-law uses a small piece of velcro to secure her Scapular under her undergarment straps. I do not, but if the straps show, I figure I am not dressed modestly enough.

Scapular Investiture Ceremony

Priest – Show us, O Lord, Thy mercy.

Respondent – And grant us Thy salvation.

P – Lord, hear my prayer.

R – And let my cry come unto Thee.

P – The Lord be with you.

R – And with your Spirit.

P – Lord Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, sanctify + by Thy power these scapulars, which for love of Thee and for love of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Thy servants will wear devoutly, so that through the intercession of the same Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and protected against the evil spirit, they persevere until death in Thy grace. Thou who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.


 P – Receive this blessed scapular and beseech the Blessed Virgin that through Her merits, you may wear it without stain. May it defend you against all adversity and accompany you to eternal life. Amen.


 P – I, by the power vested in me, admit you to participate in all the spiritual benefits obtained through the mercy of Jesus Christ by the Religious Order of Mount Carmel. In the name of the Father + and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. + Amen.

 May God Almighty, the Creator of Heaven and earth, bless + you, He who has deigned to join you to the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel; we beseech Her to crush the head of the ancient serpent so that you may enter into possession of your eternal heritage through Christ our Lord.

R – Amen.



Books Faith Formation Ink Slingers Kerri Mary Prayer Reviews

A New Marian Devotional You Absolutely Need

Whether you have a devotion to Our Blessed Mother or not, the Manual for Marian Devotion by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, is a handy little books for everything you need to know about Mary. It would be great for personal use and would make a great gift. And it will inspire you to take up a greater devotion to Mary if you don’t already have one.

First let me tell you that I just love the feel and size of this little manual. It’s roughly the size of my hand and it is bound in leather. The embossing on it is lovely, the edges of the pages are silver, and there is a ribbon bookmark built in. Of all my prayer books, I especially love the ones that have ribbon bookmarks and leather binding. The nice small size is also nice for easily tossing in my purse on my way to adoration. This one will be part of my stack of favorites, for sure.

All that exterior stuff also makes it a nice gift, and it contains a page in the front for you to fill out if you are giving it as a gift. You can record the name of the person and the date or occasion for which you are gifting it, plus a large space for leaving a special note. Nice touch!

All that above is great, but I know you want to know what this book contains. Well, pretty much everything to do with Mary. The first four chapters are dedicated to preparing for Marian devotion. I really liked how this section was broken down and covered a lot of ground. It’s a very quick look at Marian doctrines, historical facts, and much more. So don’t expect a ton of details here, but it’s enough to get you interested. For a neophyte to Marian devotion this section is perfect, and if one wants more detail this gives them a jumping off point (there’s a bibliography in the back of the book). Or, move on to the next section of the book.

Part Two of the manual (chapters 5-11) goes into more detail with aids to Marian devotion. Here is where you’ll find prayers (lots and lots, from all the basics to some less well known ones), excerpts from the Catechism and other Church documents, Mary in the liturgy, quotes from saints, poetry, synopses of miracles and apparitions, and much more. There is a lot packed into this tiny volume!

While the first four chapters were a quick read, the remaining part of the book is much different. Here is where you may find one small passage to read in the morning and reflect on the rest of the day. This is the section you could flip open when you need a spiritual shot in the arm or a little inspiration. I’ve been reading through chapter 7 (The Saints and Other Spiritual Writers) and finding a lot of great passages for reflection. And I like how this chapter is divided up by time period, from Ancient writers to twentieth century writers.

I’m also finding a lot of new information in this book: things like the very first Marian prayer from 3rd century Egypt, Marian poetry I never knew about, and a list of flowers with their Marian meanings. Chapter 8 (Marian Miracles and Messages) looks absolutely fascinating (I haven’t gotten to it yet). And if you are interested in the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary, the Consecration Prayer from St. Louis de Montfort is contained in this book.

I was especially pleased to find the four Marian antiphons that are traditionally said after night prayer (Alma Redemptoris Mater, Ave Regina Caelorum, Regina Coeli, and Salve Regina). As a Benedictine Oblate, my oblate prayer books contains all four, but only in Latin. The Manual for Marian Devotion lists them all together (in chapter 10, Mary in the liturgy, pgs. 275-282) in both English and Latin. So I’ve now been using the Manual along with my oblate prayer book so I can say those prayers in English. [Except the Salve Regina; I already know that one quite well.]

If there is one thing I wish were included in this book it would be an index. The table of contents does a great job breaking down large chunks, but if you are looking for something specific it can be hard to find. Maybe it’s just the librarian in me, but a few times I found myself flipping around a lot looking for something I knew I had seen and wanted to see again and an index would have been helpful. As a former librarian this may bother me more than the average person. Of course, if I use the book enough, I probably won’t have need for an index after a while.

After exploring this book and reading large chunks of it, I can definitely say that this is a prayer book that any lover of Mary should have. I have really enjoyed reading sections and using the prayers in it from time to time. And as I said above, it would make a great gift for many occasions. This is a great time of year for gift giving as well! You likely know someone making their First Communion soon or maybe receiving the sacrament of Confirmation. Plus, Mother’s Day is coming up, what a perfect gift for that special Mary devotee in your life (hint, hint to the guys reading this).

Manual for Marian Devotion is currently available from Tan Books for $29.95. You can also personalize your copy with a name or message stamped on the cover for an additional fee.

And as always, I received a copy of the book for this review and no other compensation. All opinions here are completely mine.