Mary at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, Washington DC

Hail Holy Queen

In God is our joy, through Mary, Our Queen, let us give thanks and praise!

— Magnificat Antiphon for the Queenship of Mary, August 22

When I read the antiphon that started my day last Saturday, the combination of words “through Mary” and “lets us give thanks and praise” hit me like a one-two punch. In praying through Mary as our spiritual Mother, prayers of petition are what first come to mind. How often do we raise our thanks and praise to God though her?

In ancient times it was the queen mother that wielded power by having the ear of the king. Since kings often had many wives, there was often no one, singular queen. But since a man can have only one mother, the woman who gave birth to him was the queen mother and was an intercessor with those seeking favor with the king. Jesus continues this tradition by allowing his Mother to plead on our behalf. 

Because of her humanity, approaching Mary for intercessory prayers can help mitigate any trepidation of approaching God ourselves. Even though she is full of grace and resides in heaven, we know she understands how challenging life can be, and how easy it is to agonize over even the simplest decisions. Her example of asking Jesus to help at the wedding feast of Cana illustrates how every Hail Mary we say matters to her. There is no detail small enough to escape her motherly concern. 

While we can be confident in asking assistance through Mary, shouldn’t we ask her to give God thanks and praise on our behalf? I’m sure God appreciates all the thanks and praise that we give Him directly. However, when we ask Mary to thank God for us, she takes our trivial little thank-you and shines it up so that any stain of sin is removed and only the beauty of our praise is presented to God. I imagine every rosary said, especially in thanksgiving, to be like a bouquet of 50 roses that she presents to God on our behalf. How can we not grow closer to God when we have a mother who reflects our prayers in a purified manner to Him? In praying the rosary in a meditative way, we are drawn into the major events of the life of her son, Jesus. She is like a magnet, drawing us ever closer so that when we complete our time on earth, the final distance between ourselves and Jesus can be removed and we will be one with Him. 

While God takes delight in all His creation, when we pray through Mary, we acknowledge His greatest masterpiece in humankind. Let us raise a joyful cry and ask Mary to present it to the Lord in thanks and praise!

Catholic Girl Journey

Thanks: thought or prayer?

During a recent homily a missionary priest indicated that when he says “thank you,” he says a prayer for the people he is thanking.  

I’ve often felt the phrase thank you was too small to express what I felt when I said it. It’s so simple and easy, but what does it mean? Looking up thanks in the dictionary for a more precise meaning resulted in a language journey. First stop is gratitude, but that only explained it as being grateful. At the second stop, there were several explanations:

  1. Appreciative of benefits received.
  2. Affording pleasure or contentment; pleasing.
  3. Pleasing by reason of comfort supplied or discomfort alleviated.

While this definition covered much more depth for the expression, the true discovery is in the etymology that grateful comes from the Latin, gratus, or grace.

Coming to the last stop of the language journey, the etymology for grace is from Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin gratia, from gratus; akin to Sanskrit gṛṇāti meaning he praises. So it seems that this Sanskrit word, which is one of the oldest languages around, has made its way into English with praise at its root. As Catholics, our praise  should always start and end with God. Logic would then reason out that every time I used the word thanks, I was really praising God for the actions of the people I am thanking. Wow, thanks goes much further than I thought it did!

Now that I know the history of the word thanks, I can be more confident in what it expresses. However, for those truly amazing circumstances, I think saying a prayer along with the word will convey appreciation to God for His blessings received through the hands of those around me. One thing I am certain of: we can never give too much thanks and praise to God. And thanks be to God!