By Susan Ciancio
Today we celebrate the Nativity of Mary—the day that Mary was born without original sin. What an immense blessing!
Mary’s fiat—her “yes” to becoming the mother of Christ—ensured that the gates of heaven would be open for us so that we have the opportunity to spend eternity with God.
When we think about our spiritual mother, we can’t help but think about the fact that her “yes,” her actions, her guidance, and her love can help shape us as people and as mothers.
Mary’s trust in God, even at such a young age, can serve as a beautiful example of how we should live our faith.
When Gabriel appeared to Mary with his very special message, Mary could not have understood all that saying yes would entail. But she trusted and said yes anyway. She believed that God had a plan and that she had a special place in that plan.
This is so true with us, for we all have a special role to play in life. God has a plan for each of us. And though our yeses to God come in different forms, we are all called to say yes when He asks something of us.
How do we know what God asks of us? He doesn’t send an angel down to direct us. We don’t hear a loud or booming voice. Rather, we often feel small nudges. We can hear Him speaking in our hearts. We can listen to scripture or the Catechism or read a book of reflections and understand that God is speaking through those instances. And we can listen to the words that Mary spoke to those who were blessed to have apparitions of her. They include Juan Diego, Bernadette, and the three children at Fatima.
To these saints, Mary encouraged unwavering faith in her Son.
As we celebrate the birthday of Mary today, let us welcome Mary into our lives and our homes. Let us make her a vital part of our prayer life, of our days, and of our children’s lives.
Below, we give eight special ideas for things you and your families can do together that will help strengthen your relationship with our Blessed Mother. These involve stories of faith, stories of love, family prayer time, and educational lessons about Mary from the Culture of Life Studies Program.
There’s no greater way to spend the Nativity of Mary than by learning about her and growing closer to her.
1. Explain that Catholics venerate Mary as the mother of God; we do not worship her. Worship is for God only.
Some people don’t understand this, so it’s important that you teach your children that, when we pray and talk to Mary, we are asking for her intercession. We are asking for her to carry our prayers to her Son. We are not praying directly to her. Help your children understand so they can explain it to others if ever they are challenged as to why they venerate Mary.
2. Read about the apparitions at Fatima on EWTN’s 100 years of Fatima website.
This site has a lot of details, so you can learn more and teach your children, no matter what ages.
3. Read CLSP’s blog about Jacinta and Francisco Marto, two of the children who saw Mary at Fatima.
What happened to the children after the apparitions ended? Our blog explains the very short lives of these two saintly children and helps you learn how to use their example to build a culture of life in your own homes.
4. Download CLSP’s lesson about the Blessed Virgin Mary.
This lesson teaches your children the story of the Annunciation and Mary’s “yes” to God when the Angel Gabriel asked her to become the mother of our Savior. Your children will love learning about our Blessed Mother and will have fun completing the activities at the end.
5. Download CLSP’s lesson about Our Lady of Guadalupe.
In this lesson, your children will meet Juan Diego, the peasant who loved Christ so much that he walked many miles to and from church every day. On one special day, he saw the Blessed Virgin Mary, and she gave him something extraordinary to show the bishop.
6. Read about the miracle at Lourdes.
St. Bernadette was just a young girl when Mary appeared to her asking her to make sacrifices and pray for sinners. When Bernadette followed Mary’s instructions to scrape the earth near the grotto where she appeared, a spring came forth—one that still provides 27,000 gallons of water each day and that has been responsible for many healings.
7. Teach your children the Memorare.
This beautiful prayer encourages us to seek Mary’s help in times of distress.
8. Explain American Life League’s Marian Blue Wave.
The Marian Blue Wave is a Rosary initiative begun by ALL to encourage people to pray for an end to abortion and all abortion facilities. Older kids and teens can take responsibility for saying a Rosary on their own. Explain to them the importance of taking prayers to our spiritual mother so that she can take them to her Son. Discuss how they’re making a difference with their prayers.
On this very special day, let us remember to emulate Mary and say yes to God. We know that it may not be easy to always do His will, but we know the consequences of saying no. So let us always strive to do as Mary did and to say, “May it be done to me according to your word.”