My earliest memory of devotion to Mama Mary was praying the rosary before bed with my family on my plastic glow-in-the-dark beads. There were many evenings when I would feign sleep so that we would pray a shorter version of it or I could skip it altogether. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember the mysteries nor could I understand why we mentioned them when the entire time we were “Hail-ing” Mama Mary. If there was one thing that didn’t change in our home, it was praying the rosary and when I left home, I left the rosary as well… until I was introduced to the Legion of Mary by my parents. In addition to the five decades, they had added the Catena Legionis prayed by every faithful legionary. It was at this point that my notion of Mama Mary as a docile, quiet and caring mother was turned on its head.
Before and after the Magnificat, two lines of Scripture in the form of an antiphon are prayed by every legionary:
“Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array?”
~ Song of Songs 6:10
For the first time, our blessed Mother was being invoked as something of a warrior. As I prayed these lines, the idea of blind submission, of feebleness and every other misconception I had had about Mama Mary was challenged. She is spoken of as a woman in battle array. Who was she battling? How was she battling? In Genesis 3, an enmity was placed between her and Satan because she would never surrender herself to sin and so he would never have power over her. St. Louis de Montfort writes,
“In these latter times, Mary must become as terrible as an army in battle array to the devil and his followers… She must shine forth more than ever in power and grace; in power to combat the enemies of God who will rise up menacingly to seduce and crush by [false] promises and threats all those who oppose them; in grace, to inspire and support the valiant soldiers and loyal servants of Jesus Christ who are fighting his cause.”
Quite obviously, there is nowhere in her historical lifetime that she ever engages in a bloody, violence-ridden battle. Instead, she remains hidden, because she is,
“not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
~ Ephesians 6:12
This persevering militant nature is beautifully observed in the Eastern Church where she is seen as the commander of the army of saints and the army of angels. So to see her set in a battle array is no metaphorical language but our blessed Mother’s role as long as there is a militant Church!
The armies of Israel always marched in procession into battle, with the Ark of the Covenant preceding them. They knew that if the Lord whose throne was the Ark, was with them, they would not lose. Our Blessed Mother is known as the Ark of the Covenant (Rev 11:19-12:2). Now, this same Warrior-mother/ Queen goes before us in every battle, if we have joined her ranks.
The most famous of prayers recited by Catholics down the ages has been the rosary. The prayer that binds families together wins temporal battles, converts people to the faith has been the rosary. Unfortunately over the last century, the rosary has come to be understood as something archaic, a set of prayers mindlessly repeated for the uneducated or by those who don’t have anything of their own to say. How far from the truth we have reached! The rosary is a discipline of meditating on the life of Jesus. It isn’t just limited to the 33 years of Jesus on the earth but the fruit his life, death and resurrection bore; which is the hope of our salvation seen in Mama Mary. This bouquet of roses isn’t a mere sentimental offering to the mother of our Lord. Instead, it is also a battle cry by her children who are consciously waging war with the enemy by declaring the mysteries of God and seeking to be conformed to them, of which, as Ven. Bishop. Fulton Sheen says Mama Mary is “His Masterpiece.” The battle cry is a back and forth invocation and response by one who leads the rosary and those who join in its recitation.
Even when prayed alone, the late Fr. Gabriel Amorth in his book An Exorcist Explains the Demonic says,
“This prayer has, in fact, strong power of protection and liberation from evil. One day Sister Lucia, a seer of Fatima, revealed that God has conferred a power so great on the rosary that there is no evil—personal, family, or social—that cannot be defeated by its recitation with faith.”
The battle does belong to the Lord and he has appointed His mother to lead the armies or hosts of heaven to crush the head of Satan and restore what was destroyed. To her children, Mama Mary continues to be a tender loving mother like no other; who knows every need and every longing of our heart. She satisfies them from the abundant storehouses of graces of her son.
“Who is she who comes forth as the morning rising, fair and the moon, terrible as an army set in battle array”
~ Song of Solomon 6:10
She is our blessed Mother, Mama Mary who wages war for the souls of her children, a mother who has been pierced herself for love of us and who trains us for war waged with the weapons of love and humility for the greater glory of God. When we rally under her mantle we do not hide from the ugly realities of the world and problems of our lives, instead, we prepare to mount an attack for which the battle has already been won!