As we were preparing to receive Holy Communion during a Sunday Mass, my four-year-old decided to wave his stowaway beloved teddy bear in the face of our deacon, staunchly proclaiming: “You forgot to bless Teddy! You forgot to bless Teddy!” Mortified, I tried to keep our determined, 4-year-old from continuing his protest way, WAY to close to knocking the ciborium, and subsequently, our Lord’s precious Body, out of the deacon’s hands, all the while, chastising myself for ever letting that stuffed animal in the building.
I’m certain I received our Lord that day, but like so many mothers and fathers bringing their children to Mass, my heart was less-than prepared to receive the God of the Universe.
Or, at least that’s what I tend to think.
I’d have to say, since my children have been born, I can count on one hand the times I have been able to mentally participate in prayer during the entire Mass. This is the season of my life right now, and I take comfort in knowing that every Catholic mother throughout history who has obediently brought her young children to Mass has been in the same boat. One of those devout mothers — my dearly departed grandmother — gave me what I didn’t know was going to be the most helpful advice of my motherhood:
“Give yourself to Mary before Communion.”
In the spirit of St. Louis de Montfort’s Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary, and at the urging of my grandmother, at every Mass, during the quiet time after the priest receives Communion and before I do, I say a quick little prayer to Mary that goes something like this:
“Blessed Mother, I give myself entirely to you. Prepare me to receive your Son.”
Then, I rest.
I rest in the arms of Mary. I rest in that peaceful place that Christ did when he was a little child on earth. Some Masses I have more “mental free time” to connect with my Mama Mary before Communion, but most days, that is the short prayer I utter in my distraction. It is a prayer of trust. I trust that Mary knows her Son better than I do. I trust that Mary yearns with all of her being to bring us closer to her Son. I trust that she will never refuse the prayer of someone wanting to know Him.
Oh. You’re not a parent with young children? Don’t worry! This prayer is good for anyone and everyone, not just distracted parents:
For the person who has the joy of sitting next to my children at Mass. Mary, prepare me to receive your Son.
For the person who can’t stand the choice of Communion hymn. Mary, prepare me to receive your Son.
For the person who perceived that someone in the Communion line received our Lord in a less-than-perfect manner. Mary, prepare me to receive your Son.
For the person filled with anxiety or who is suffering a personal heartache that consumes his or her mind. Mary, prepare me to receive your Son.
For the person who has barely dragged him or herself out of bed with a bad head cold. Mary, prepare me to receive your Son.
For the person living in chronic pain. Mary, prepare me to receive your Son.
We’ve all been in situations of distraction during Mass. We are human living in the world. The next time your are distracted from prayer, try my grandmother’s advice. Give yourself to Mary. And let your prayer be one of rest within your Mother’s arms.
A special prayer to Mary that my grandmother hand-wrote for me on a scrap of paper:
My Queen! My Mother!
I give myself entirely to you
and to show my devotion to you,
I consecrate to you this day
my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my whole being without reserve.
Therefore, good Mother,
keep me and guard me
as your property and possession.