It’s helpful to understand the language that different churches use to describe Mary, and it’s fun to ponder what she was thinking when she told Jesus the wine had run out at the wedding feast. There’s even more value for us when we think of Mary’s request as a model of prayer. Are we mindful of the hour of Jesus’ passion when we pray, or do we just blurt out prayers assuming that God exists to meet our personal needs in the way we want them met? Hopefully we’re learning, as Mary was, about cruciform praying. Our requests, like hers, need to be in step with the hour of Jesus’ passion, when he prayed three times, “I want your will to be done, not mine.”
The celebration of Saint Patrick’s day is especially odd in the USA, where people drink beer to excess in honor of the life of a Christian missionary. What?! All that nonsense about green beer, shamrocks, and leprechauns aside, we can honor the life and ministry of Saint Patrick best by pondering his “breastplate,” a prayer traditionally attributed to him.
During the recent Advent season we followers of Jesus were reminded once again of the epicenter of our faith: “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory” (John 1:14). This astounding message changes everything, and that includes prayer. But let’s be honest—the busy-ness of the new year tends to wipe away the afterglow of our Advent experience. I suggest this year we resist our tendency to forget Advent by pondering how the story of Christ’s birth impacts how we pray. Prayer can never be the same after God’s ultimate revelation, the incarnation of the Son of God. We need to pray with our minds set on Christmas.