What Would Mary Do?

Take time to ponder situations like the Blessed Mother did


About 20 years ago, maybe longer, the question “What Would Jesus Do?” began appearing on wristbands, T-shirts, mugs, magnets and a number of other items as a way to evangelize.

When it comes to the role of deacons’ wives, I’m thinking it’s time to ask the same question, but about someone else we know and love: the Blessed Mother. After all, we’re all called to be more like Christ, and because Christ loved and respected his mother, I think he would encourage deacons’ wives especially to ask, “What would Mary do?” I’m not just referring to the big-picture items that come in conversations with the wives of newly ordained deacons: “What is my role as a deacon’s wife?” “Do I help him in his ministry?” “If I don’t have a ministry, do I start my own?” “If I am involved in ministry, should I stay involved?” “Is it OK to continue in my current role or roles?”

These are all very good questions to which there is any combination of answers depending on one’s circumstances. Because there is no specifically designed plan or outline from the Church for deacons’ wives other than to support their husbands before and after ordination, it is up to the individual wife and deacon couple to decide what’s best. Asking for Mary’s intercession and contemplating what she might do in the big things (as well as the small things) is a great place to start and a powerful prayer habit to develop.

I developed this habit more consistently about four years ago after giving the keynote address at a fundraiser for a large Catholic pregnancy resource center dedicated to Mary. I was praying about my message and turned to Scripture, where I noticed Mary taking several positive actions — one in particular that has become somewhat foreign in today’s overly busy culture. Yes, Mary was always there to meet the needs of those around her in her village 2,000 years ago. Whether it was reaching out to her cousin, Elizabeth, or interceding for the newlyweds when they ran out of wine, Mary responded as deacons’ wives often respond. But first, we see the words “ponder” or “reflected” associated with Mary. Whether it was contemplating the Annunciation, the finding of Jesus in the Temple or the visit of the Magi, our Blessed Mother took time to ponder or reflect. Our Catholic tradition also teaches us that Mary was a woman of prayer who spent much time reading and reflecting on the Scriptures.

We would like to think that people of faith — in particular those who are ordained or connected to the religious directly — are better when it comes to reflecting or pondering through the lens of faith. But an interesting study done several years ago proves otherwise. The research conducted over a five-year period of more than 20,000 believers around the world found that too many Christians are too busy for God. The Obstacles to Growth survey found that, on average, more than 4 in 10 Christians around the world often or always rush from task to task, and it is worse among those in key ministry roles, according to the lead researcher, Dr. Michael Zigarelli, with the Charleston Southern University School of Business.

“The accelerated pace and activity level of the modern day distracts us from God and separates us from the abundant, joyful, victorious life he desires for us,” Zigarelli told Christianity Today magazine.

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If we’re rushing from task to task, it’s highly doubtful that there is any pondering or reflecting going on. Not that we need an additional item to our already jammed to-do list, but I know from experience that putting reflecting or pondering at the top of that list makes a major difference. Asking that simple question of “What would Mary do?” forces me to slow down, put God first and keep him there, which is exactly what our Blessed Mother and her Son want for us.

TERESA TOMEO is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio, and the author of “Beyond Sunday: Becoming a 24/7 Catholic” (OSV, $14.95). She is married to Deacon Dom Pastore, an ordained deacon in the Archdiocese of Detroit.