CASTILLO: To Jesus through Mary - A journey of encounter and transformation

May 28, 2024

I’ve had the privilege of working in youth ministry in the Archdiocese since 2006, in addition to speaking at conferences and missions all over the country. There’s both good and bad news.  

The bad isn’t surprising: heartache from broken relationships, sin and lost faith is indeed common. I do, however, have good news. Across the U.S. and in our Archdiocese, there are young people on fire for Christ. I have heard testimonies of conversion, healing and obstacles overcome, and these stories have one common factor: Mary. 

When people take Mary as their mother and “take Mary into their home,” their lives change. A spark occurs in their relationship with Christ that wasn’t present before. The goal of the Christian life is union with Christ, and to say to Mary, “Be my mother,” is to imitate Christ. Mary’s desire is to help us love Christ more; her soul truly magnifies the Lord.  

There are several practical ways to increase devotion to Mary. It can be as simple as putting up an image of her in your home, which will serve as a reminder of her presence, increasing your knowledge by reading about Mary or spending time with her in prayer, talking to her about the things in your heart.  

However, praying the Rosary is the greatest way to foster your relationship with Mary. In doing so, you are in good company. Echoing the words of St. John Paul II, “It would be impossible to count all of the many saints who discovered in the Rosary a genuine path to holiness.”   

Why is the Rosary so powerful? Because Mary’s highest intention, past, present, and forever, is singular and simple: to form the Body of Christ.   

The Rosary, the prayer Mary herself gave us, does this in two distinct ways. First, there is a certain death required to deny oneself and pray for 20 minutes; this is not accidental. Mary wants you to become like Christ, and while perhaps unpopular in modern culture, that requires self-denial.  

In addition to the sacrifice of our time and desires, the repetition of the “Hail Mary” has a purpose. These words are the cornerstone of the New Testament and the turning point of salvation history, giving birth to Mary’s fiat and the incarnation.  

When we pause amidst our busy lives and repeat these words, we invite Christ ever deeper into our hearts through the Gospel mysteries. A grace remembered is a grace renewed, and just a few moments every day imagining the scenes of the Gospel as if we were present there with Jesus and Mary will form us into His disciples, making possible our own fiat to the will of God.  

Recently, a gentleman came to the parish office because his wife was questioning her faith and stopped attending Mass. He was praying a daily Rosary but resolved to pray another one by doing a 54-day Rosary novena for her.  

At first, she seemed to be doing worse, but he persevered. On the 15th day, out of the blue, his wife said she wanted to go to confession and has since returned to the faith. Although we do not always witness the fruits of our prayer so clearly during our time on earth, his story is not an outlier. The Rosary is efficacious. Mary promised us that it would be.    

Before her death, Sister Lucia, one of the three children to encounter Mary at Fatima, said, “There is no problem in our lives that cannot be overcome by the prayer of the Rosary.”

I encourage you to pray the Rosary every day. Try it for seven days. Many have done this and experienced peace and a greater sense of God’s presence. Having strong intentions is a great motivator for praying when we don’t feel like it. If you have loved ones who are suffering or away from the Church, I encourage you to pray a Rosary for them.

Don’t stop praying for them “because never was it known that anybody who called upon her name was left unaided.” 

Gabriel Castillo is the coordinator of youth ministry and faith formation at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Sugar Land.

(OSV News photo)