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Ginny Kubitz Moyer Answers:
A few thoughts come to mind with regards to your question (which, by the way, is a great one to address). First off, let’s reflect on what the Catholic Church teaches about Mary and prayer. Mary is not seen as the source of grace herself; that is reserved to God. The Church instead teaches that she’s a very powerful intercessor on our behalf. So it’s useful for us to make sure that our prayers reflect her role as intercessor, and that we aren’t investing her with power that really belongs to God.
That said, there are plenty of reasons why Catholics ask for Mary’s intercession. I’ve talked to women who love praying to Mary because they know that she understands them as moms, or as wives, or simply as women, period. A woman I know who once had uterine cancer talked about how Mary was a huge part of her prayer life at that time, because she felt that Mary really understood her pain at knowing she’d never be able to have children. Mary’s role as mom also makes her very comforting to many Catholics, male and female. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Still, if you are concerned about how much you pray to Mary, you might find it useful to reflect on your image of her son. Maybe you are having a hard time recognizing the loving, gentle side of Jesus. Maybe there is guilt or doubt that makes it hard for you to approach him. If you find that to be the case, try asking for Mary’s prayers to bring you closer to Jesus. Her very life, remember, was dedicated to bringing her son to people like you and me, both through giving birth to him and through supporting his mission during and after his life. I’m sure she’d love nothing better than to help you build that relationship.
In closing, here is a great passage from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ 1973 pastoral letter Behold Your Mother: Woman of Faith. I really like how it sums up the relationship between Mary, Jesus, and our prayers:
“To venerate Mary correctly means to acknowledge her Son, for she is the Mother of God. To love her means to love Jesus, for she is always the Mother of Jesus. To pray to Our Lady means not to substitute her for Christ, but to glorify her Son who desires us to having loving confidence in his Saints, especially in his Mother.”