The following is a reflection given by senior Robbie Frei at a meeting of the The Sodality of Our Lady of Walsingham, one of our student organizations. The Sodality is "a religious body which aims at fostering in its members an ardent devotion, reverence, and filial love towards the Blessed Virgin Mary." Chaplaincy and religious student groups encourage our students to explore and deepen their faith, and to help others to do so as well.
In our reflection this week, our rule calls us to devotion. Devotion is a word that I’m sure we’ve heard many times in theology, our homes, or on retreats, and it almost always refers to a specific prayer or practice. You might call wearing a scapular a devotion, or lighting a candle at your parish, in other words a small token of prayer for God.
But devotion means something more than that. The word comes from the Latin “devovere”, a contraction of the words “to vow” and “from”. The Latin implies we are, literally, making a promise from something. So when wearing a scapular or saying frequent Hail Mary’s we must remember that just doing the action isn’t enough, they serve as a promise to God, and one that we should follow in our daily lives. We’ve seem to forgotten that aspect of it.
This devotion is probably the most important part of our prayer lives. So important, in fact, that it is the primary goal of our Sodality: to foster a filial devotion towards our blessed mother. We, as members of the sodality, ought to pray for Mary’s intercession, and follow daily devotions to her, as well as following up on their promises.
For example, a great devotion I believe everyone here should do is to wear a scapular daily. Once you receive a scapular blessing from a priest, you can wear the scapular as a symbol of a promise to our lord, in imitation of Mary, to follow his commandments. It also serves as a reminder of us to fulfill our daily duty. Many other things can serve in the same way, such as daily prayer or votive candles.
Why do we have devotions to Mary, though? We can have devotions to the other saints as well, but why her specifically? Mary is the ideal example for devotion, in her full and selfless sacrifice of her own will for God’s. She promised her entire life to serving God as a servant of the Lord, and we should strive for that. That’s why in our rule it says we should follow the virtue of devotion in imitation of the Virgin.
Daily devotions through Mary to God are everywhere in our faith and will help you enrich your lives. Because they are so important, I have a challenge for all of you.
After Sodality and the prayer service in the Church, I challenge each and every one of you to write in the inside cover of your student planner one devotion to Mary or God that you intend to do this year. Along with the devotion, I want you to write two other things. Write down the devotion, and then write down a goal for how long to continue it, and what it is promising to God. I know a lot of you are already praying the rosary all October, and that is a wonderful devotion in and of itself, but push yourselves to go that extra mile and think of something else. Write down those three things, the devotion, the duration of time, and the promise it entails, and follow it. If you end the time period, cross it out and maybe go for something longer. Follow that, and I can 100% guarantee you will see the benefits, and more importantly, God will.
So let’s say a prayer for that,
In the name of the father....
God, help me to follow in my daily devotion to you. I, with your help, truly wish to follow through on my promises and live a more virtuous life. May I, like Mary, give myself over to you, and through this daily devotion grow closer to you, Lord Jesus. I ask this through your mother, Mary, our lady of Walsingham, and all the saints. And through her let us pray, Hail Mary...