Under the Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary

This image of the Blessed Mother, from Portraits of Saints, can be found here.

Under Her Protection

I have a fascination with all things Mary. I am seriously fascinated by her strength.

That’s right – her strength.

If one were to catalogue every piece of art in which the Blessed Virgin appears, my hunch is that words like meek, humble, compliant, pious, and passive would dominate the text. This is understandable, given the fact that she has been venerated for centuries for being a most willing cooperator in salvation history.

The problem does not lie in her artistic or theological rendering, though. Her strength actually pours out of her – in any “pious” piece of art or theological text in which one finds her.  The problem lies in how we think about these words. 

They are often defined as weak.

Given this issue, it worth discussing our understanding of strength.


I have been in therapy and 12 Step recovery for many years and at some point on my journey, I finally understood the idea central to all 12 Step groups: The idea of surrender. Admitting defeat. Understanding I could not do this thing called life, without surrendering my will.

Instead of attempting to control people, places, and things, my recovery would lie in my surrender of these things.  And in that surrender, I found a strength I had not ever experienced before.  It was the ultimate paradox.  To be humble, compliant, and passive takes an enormous amount of strength!  It is a lesson I continue to learn again and again.

It’s no wonder I found the Catholic faith after being involved with 12 Step recovery. Catholicism is all about surrender. It is embodied in every Catholic Church in the form of a crucifix. The representation of the crucifixion is, at its heart, the most perfect incarnation of surrender.


And while this supreme sacrifice of Jesus cannot be overshadowed by anything else, it is impossible to forget who was at the foot of the cross.

While highly stylized, this image represents a maternal surrender that I cannot fathom. The strength it takes to surrender this way is also unimaginable. But I pray for it. I ask Mary to give it to me.

This image of the Madonna and Child seems to represent all of Mary’s concern. As though she might know, on some level, the strength she will need to endure what will be asked of her.

Because the Blessed Virgin Mother is Fully Human

This fact is what gives me the confidence to surrender to Mary’s protection. She is fully human. Not divine. After Christ, Mary’s ability to relate to our struggles is unparalleled. Any pain we experience in life has already been experienced by Mary – so there is no area of our life that she will not understand.


Prayer to Mary

Perhaps you’re feeling like you could use a little assistance with surrender right now.

If you desire a devotion to Mary, but do not have one, the following prayer is perfect for beginners. It can also be a nice addition or change if you already have a devotion.

It is simple and straightforward and it will certainly bring you under the protection of Mary.  It is my belief that you need not be Catholic to pray it!  All that is needed is the desire to pray it (this is true for any Catholic prayer, for that matter).

Pray it whenever you feel the need to surrender.


This prayer, can be found at Kendra Tierney’s website, Printable Prayers, or by clicking here.

Further Reading

You can read up on the Church Councils with regard to Mary here.

You can read up on the difference between adoration of Jesus and veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary here.


This image of the Blessed Mother, from Portraits of Saints, can be found here.

Leave a Reply

I would love to hear your thoughts on the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Do you have a devotion to her?  What do you think about her strength-as-surrender model? Perhaps you want to develop a devotion to her.  All thoughtful comments are welcome. Please ask any questions you have and I will do my best to answer them. AMDG.

Finding Strength & Peace with the Saints


St. Teresa of Avila praying to St Joseph and Jesus.  A Saint praying… to a Saint.

The Communion of Saints

The Catholic Faith offers so many paths for finding peace when we are anxious, tired, and feeling like we lost our last friend.  One of my absolute favorite ways of finding the strength, courage, and peace I need is to tap into the Communion of Saints.  After the Sacraments, it might be the way I live in communion with God the most.

A little explanation for Catholics and Non-Catholics alike: The Communion of Saints is not a superstitious teaching, in the least.  It is a recognition of the fact that God is in charge of all that is seen and unseen, visible and invisible.  It is the recognition that this material, physical world and the spiritual world are not at odds with each other; in fact they are in communion with each other.

I live in New York City.  When I ride the train to and from work, I often visualize everyone’s Guardian Angel sitting or standing next to them.  The same is true of the Saints – they are always with us, helping us and praying for us.  Because they are no longer living on the earth in their physical bodies, but are pure spirit, they can “travel” to different places on earth.  For instance, St Thérèse of Lisieux can be consoling someone in Paris on the Metro on her way home from work AND consoling some other soul on the train in Manhattan, on his way to the office AT THE SAME TIME.  And she can be with countless others who are praying to her at any given time (she might be the busiest Saint, after The Blessed Virgin Mary).  Because Thérèse is no longer limited to the physical realm, she can be everywhere at once, even for those souls who don’t know of her, but nonetheless desperately need her intercession.

This image from the awesome Portraits of Saints can be found here.

Hanging About the Graveyard

The coolest thing about the Communion of Saints is that it is the most “grass roots” movement in the Roman Catholic Church and it knows no gender or racial boundaries. In my researching different Saints, I’ve been taught about their background and heritage, which is truly global.

It all began back when the Church was persecuted in the 3rd and 4th Centuries and many of the faithful were being martyred for their belief in Christ.  If they would renounce Christ, they’d live.  So many of them did NOT renounce Christ and were then killed.  Because of their steadfast presence in the face of their own death, other Christians who were worried they might be next, came to pray at the graves of those earlier martyrs, asking for their intercession.  They prayed for courage in the face of their own possible martyrdom, to be steadfast like those who went before them, to not renounce Christ in order to save their lives.  They prayed with confidence that these martyrs were now with Christ in Heaven, and could hear their pleas for help.  They believed they would receive their strength from beyond.  

The point here is that they prayed for their intercession, which is a fancy way of saying “Hey, Thérèse, can you ask Jesus to help me with this issue?”  Of course, we pray directly to Jesus, too.  But sometimes it’s nice to have a friend, a confidante, that will guide us along our journey.  Someone who can inspire us by the way they lived their life.    

Border Children and the Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala

I recently went to St Patrick’s Cathedral to pray a rosary for the Border Children, who have been violently ripped from their parent’s arms along the border of the United States.  I was drawn to the Guadalupe Chapel, which seemed fitting, since she is the Patron Saint of the Americas.   Jen Fulwiler is always promoting her as one of the most powerful intercessors, and I thought YES.  In the Chapel, though, was this beautiful, mystical painting of what looked like three young women, perhaps teens or younger.  At the very least, it seemed appropriate to pray in front of them and ask for their intercession.  EVERYTHING about it felt right.  As I was leaving, I asked a few people about the painting and no one knew anything about these young Saints.  I sent a picture to my friend Cindy, Catholic Extraordinaire and Walking Saint Encyclopedia.  Less than 24 hours later, she came back with her intel.    

Turns out they are three boys!  Cristobal, Antonio, and Juan.  Indigenous Mexicans.  And they are indeed martyrs – from Tlaxcala.  They were killed in the 16th Century because they believed in Christ.  And they were young, about 14 or 15 years old.  Seems to me that these child martyrs are the perfect intercessors for the current crisis on the border.  They were canonized in 2017.  You can read more about them here.

Image: The Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala – Painting in Guadalupe Chapel, St Patrick’s Cathedral, NYC

I am asking for Our Lady’s intercession as well.  And St. Juan Diego’s, too.

This image from the awesome Portraits of Saints can be found here

Pray for us, O Most Holy Mother of God.

That we made be made worthy of the promises of Christ. 


Peace, Skye 

Gotta have more saints? Check out this post by one of my favorite bloggers: 

Kendra @ Catholic All Year

Empaths Need A Sanctuary

As an Emotional & Physical Empath, I absorb much energy from those with whom I come into contact. At work, on the train, in a store – anywhere there are people, actually. Even spaces emit their own particular energy. If I am not careful, I can absorb too much negative energy and either become emotionally distraught (with anxiety or depression) or physically ill (with a migraine). The more people in a given location, the more susceptible I am to catching negative energies.

I absorb positive energy, too. This is why, when people with positive vibes enter the room, I always light up on the inside – and you likely see it on my face. These are my “sanctuary people” and they are integral to my well-being. Conversely, when someone with negative energy enters the room, I must be very careful about my proximity to them; I now have learned to remove myself altogether, if necessary. The more I learn about my empathic nature, the more I need to remove myself physically from these people.

This is why I call my home “my sanctuary.” It’s where I can detox and regroup. I can relax and gather my energy and recharge.

When thinking of a name for my blog, “Catholic Sanctuary” resonated with me; I have found my Catholic faith to be my sanctuary in and out of my home. I’ve been able to learn prayers that help feed my soul and warn off negative energies (St Michael’s Prayer has been invaluable in this way). The saints also help me immensely in this endeavor – St Joan of Arc has been a huge inspiration for courage and strength when I’m fighting off negative energies.

I pray that what I write here will help you as well, and provide a sanctuary for your soul. AMDG.

Peace, Skye

Prayer available at Printable Prayers by Kendra Tierney.

You can find her amazing blog here: Kendra @ Catholic All Year