Mary has appeared over the centuries donning many titles and styles of dresses, always wearing the right outfit for the occasion. While we normally associate blue with Our Lady, she doesn’t always appear in her signature color. Instead, her wardrobe seems to be influenced more by the people to whom she appears and the messages she brings.
While each apparition is unique, Mary’s ultimate goal remains the same. Her sole purpose is to lead us to her Son. Since Lent is a time to draw closer to Jesus it makes sense to invite His Mother to show us the way.
Let’s look at three apparitions and listen attentively to Our Mother. How can we put into practice those things which she is requesting of us?
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego in 1531 wearing a rose-colored gown, a black sash and a turquoise mantel with gold stars. Here Our Lady appears as a native Aztec princess. The gold stars on her mantel show that she comes from heaven. While Aztecs falsely worshiped the gods of the sun and the moon, Our Lady comes to reveal the one true God.
The black sash tied around her waist is a cultural symbol of pregnancy. Mary appears pregnant as a defender of life, standing against the horrors of a culture of death. The pregnant Aztec princess of Guadalupe offers a message of hope to a pagan civilization riddled with human sacrifice.
Our Lady continues today to be a symbol of hope in the midst of the bitterness of life. Her comforting words to Juan Diego “Am I not your Mother?” are an appeal to us as well.
Our Lady wants us to trust in her maternal intercession.
Our Lady of Grace
Our Lady of Grace appeared to Catherine Laboure in a convent in Paris in 1830 wearing a white dress with a blue mantle and a white veil.
The young novice describes Our Lady’s attire with precision. Her silken dress shines with the whiteness of dawn, the neck is cut high and the sleeves are plain. A pure white veil covers her head and falls to her feet. Mary’s fingers are covered with rings with precious jewels that sparkle brilliantly showering down innumerable rays of light. The Blessed Virgin’s garments and jewelry reflect her purity, radiance and beauty.
Saddened by the evils of the world and the impending tribulations, Our Lady instructs Catherine to make and distribute the “Medal of the Immaculate Conception”, now known as the “Miraculous Medal”. The Blessed Virgin promises that “all who wear it will receive great graces.” She also advises “Come to the foot of the altar. Here graces will be shed on all who ask for them. Graces will be shed especially on those who ask for them.”
Our Lady wants us to ask for graces.
Our Lady of Fatima
Our Lady of Fatima appeared to three shepherd children in 1917 “more brilliant than the sun” wearing a white gown, a white mantel trimmed in gold, a crown on her head, and a rosary in her hands.
Her white garments once again illuminate Mary’s purity, radiance and beauty. The crown and gold trim on her mantel point to her nobility. Mary, the Queen of Heaven and Earth, has come to deliver a stern but loving message to the world. “People must stop offending God because He is already so much offended.” (Oct. 13, 1917)
Mary brings a message of hope and peace during a time of great upheaval in the world. Our loving Mother desires the salvation of souls. “When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: O my Jesus! Forgive us, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need.”
Our Lady wants us to pray the rosary every day.
A Lenten Invitation
- Trust in Mary’s maternal intercession
Jesus gave us his mother on the cross. Mary is Jesus’ mother and our mother too. When we offer our prayers to Jesus through Mary, she can add her superabundant grace to them to make them more efficacious and acceptable to God. Our Blessed Mother wants to intercede for us and guide us to her Son.
- Ask for graces
The brilliant “innumerable rays of light” flowing from Our Lady’s rings, depicted on the Miraculous Medal, represent the graces she will shed upon those who ask for them. When Catherine asked why some of the rings were missing rays, Mary explained, “These are the graces for which souls forget to ask.” Let’s not forget to ask the woman who is full of grace to shower these graces upon us.
- Pray the rosary every day
If you’re not already in the habit of praying the rosary, Lent is a wonderful time to start. For those who have already discovered the riches of this treasure, Lent is a great time to go deeper.
When we meditate upon the mysteries of the rosary we reflect on the events in Jesus’ life through the eyes of his Mother. I once heard the rosary described as Mary’s Family Album – a collection of snapshots of Jesus’ life. Through the good times and the bad, the joyful and the sorrowful, Mary kept all of these things and pondered them in heart. (Luke 2:19)
I hope you will join me this Lent by placing a rosary in one hand and offering the other hand to Mary, confidently entrusting her to lead us to her Son. Mary promises us that in the end her Immaculate Heart will triumph. Let’s invite her to prepare us for that day.