The editorial of the month

Father Sebastian White, o.p.

by Father Sebastian White, o.p.

For the first four years of my priesthood, while serving as chaplain at the Catholic Center at New York University, my daily commute was a quick jaunt across Washington Square Park, which, along with its arch, is probably the best-known feature of Greenwich Village. Several months ago, however, when I made the jump to Magnificat, my commute jumped with me.

Our offices are located north of New York City, along the Hudson River, in a city called Yonkers. But I live in a Dominican priory on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. So most days I have an hour-long commute: a twenty-five minute walk down Park Avenue to Grand Central Station (unless the weather turns ugly, bullying me into taking the subway), followed by a thirty-five minute train ride north along the Hudson.

Very few people I know enjoy commuting. It feels like lost time, there are often delays, and if you forget something at home or the office, you’re stuck. But I’ve come to see my commute as a blessing.

For one, while on the train I have an opportunity to do some light reading (often literary essays in the hope that I’ll hail a writer’s muse before sitting down at the desk). Also, being a reverse commute, the train is fairly quiet…a nice time to think and pray.

More importantly, however, built right in to each day is a golden opportunity to pray the rosary while I walk each morning and afternoon. Usually, I’ll offer one for a specific intention: the deceased members of the Order of Preachers, for example; or our benefactors; or family, friends, and others who have asked for my prayers; or even all the people I might pass on any given day, many of whom may be in great need of prayer. On the other leg, I offer a rosary for all the readers of Magnificat—that an abundance of graces from the Word of God and a closer kinship with the saints may be yours. That’s basically the Magnificat mission, and I pray it is as effective as possible in each of our lives.

The month of Mary

Why am I saying all this? First, because being at Magnificat is so much more than a job. In fact, I consider my daily commute to be something of a miniature pilgrimage: In the ­office, I have the great honor of coming to the venue where a beautiful aid to Catholic prayer is put together, and where it’s a daily duty to discover the wisdom of the great spiritual authors of the Catholic Faith. Then, when I arrive home, I hang my hat in a holy place that has nourished the Catholic faithful for a century and a half.

Second, because in this month of May we are invited to renew our devotion to the one who first sang the Magnificat, the Woman whom all generations call blessed—our Lady, our Queen, our Mother.

It is not entirely clear why the month of May became so tightly associated with Mary—the Annunciation has already passed, and the Assumption is yet to come. Is it simply that the earth’s natural fecundity in this season reminds us of the supernatural life given to us through Mary’s Child? Because spring’s red roses bespeak the “rose e’er blooming”? Whatever the case—and why quibble over the details—let’s throw ourselves wholeheartedly under the patronage of the Queen of heaven and earth this month.

In a way, every time we utter the Hail Mary we recognize that life itself is a commute: For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the one that is to come (Heb 13:14). When we ask our Lady to pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, we are calling upon an intercessor who sticks with us. If at any time we are in the midst of a terrible trial, even unbeknownst to anyone else in the entire world, we may rest assured that Mary prays for us now. And even if we are completely forgotten and alone at the end of our lives or suffering beyond words, Mary is there, keeping a close eye on the hour of our death.

A priest I know and respect greatly once pointed out a simple and arresting fact: At some point in our lives, those two moments—now, and the hour of our death—will be the same. I am so grateful to know that Jesus meant what he said from the cross: Behold, your mother. Mary sees. Mary knows. Mary loves.

“Ad Jesum per Mariam”

Saint Louis de Montfort’s memorable motto should be ours, too. And as with words, so it is with phrases—­pronunciation matters. I like to think of it this way: Ad Jesum per Mariam; to Jesus through Mary. It’s like saying: “Where else would Mary lead us if not to Jesus?!” We need never fear that going to Mary will lead us astray, or constitute a detour from being close to Jesus.

Mary’s one desire is that each of us be just like Jesus—and according to de Montfort, our own devotion to Mary is a tell-tale sign that we are on the path to being just that.

Mary, Mother of the Savior and our Mother, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. As we ­ourselves sing your Magnificat, make us more like your Son.