J.M.J. When we consider the earthly life of Our Blessed Lady, we are struck by Her attention to the marvelous ways in which God was moving in Her and around Her. Mary possessed a delicate soul that considered carefully what the Lord was doing in Her midst (see Saint Luke 2:19, 51).
Our Blessed Mother's prayer was steadfast. What is "steadfast prayer"? Let us ponder each word.
According to Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary, the adjective "steadfast" has two meanings: 1.) immovable; 2.) loyal. An apt synonym for steadfast is "faithful."
Seemingly there is an almost countless number of definitions of "prayer." A very helpful and disarmingly simple one is easily stated: "communication with God."
Therefore, one who is immersed in steadfast prayer is faithful in listening and speaking to the Lord. The person will not be deterred because of weariness or what appears to be discouraging results from his prayer.
Now it is easy to see how the phrase steadfast prayer applies to Our Blessed Mother. She was loyal in Her contemplation of God and all things divine. Not only did She spend innumerable hours in prayer but She also surrendered Herself completely to every period given to meditation. In other words, Her prayer was intense; it did not waver. Her desire to pray never slackened . . . She fixed Her will firmly on the path of prayer. Her Will was immovable.
There is a troubling current today that has gained adherents in some circles--in Religious Life and elsewhere--whose mentality is expressed in the declaration: "My work is my prayer." Often this assertion signifies that instead of parceling out moments for prayer during the day, one rather counts his apostolic work, which, sadly, may even push aside time necessary for prayer, as being his communication with God.
This attitude is erroneous and eventually harmful for the soul. True, our labors are to be like the incense rising to our loving Creator in praise and gratitude. Yet, each of us requires time daily earmarked specifically for prayer in which we hear His voice and respond without attending simultaneously to any other concerns--noble as they may be.
No human person worked with so much diligence as Our Blessed Lady. But no human person ever prayed as much and so devoutly as She did. Yes, She made Her work Her prayer. Yet, She still designated long periods to communicating with Her Lord.
To the end of Her life here on earth, the Ever-Virgin persevered in prayer. And now in Heaven, She continues with unceasing prayer for us and our intentions.
May we, like Mary, be steadfast in prayer? Yes! We can be loyal in prayer like Our Blessed Lady. Our intention to pray, like Hers, can be unshakeable. And when we pray, we can yield ourselves entirely to our conversation with God. We can avoid the fallacy of regularly omitting our prayer under the banner of engaging in work, even if becoming and legitimate.
Like Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Blessed Mary is our model in prayer. In Paradise She prays for us. On earth we pray that the Everlasting Life that She knows now in Heaven will be ours, too. At Fatima in 1917, Our Blessed Mother told little Francisco Marto (1908-1919) that he must pray many Holy Rosaries before reaching Paradise. He accepted the kind, maternal challenge to pray much and devoutly. Will we?
(Originally published in the June 2007 issue of the Missio Immaculatae International [English edition], page seven. Used with permission.)