Mary is a paragon of beauty, and there’s something beautiful about mom getting ugly.

And here I don’t mean just growing old, since there is beauty in that as well. The famous Irish song, “Mother Machree” is a hymn to the beauty of a woman grown old caring for her children.

I mean Mary “getting ugly” in the slang sense of putting a smack-down on evil in order to save her children. I have seen some soft, feminine, extremely prim and proper women well up in righteous anger when their children are attacked or ill-treated. It gets ugly. It is beautiful.

It is not the loss of control, it is the assertion of the passion of motherhood that wills to give birth and life in this world and beyond it.

Taylor Marshall, a few years back, explained the title of Our Lady, Exterminatrix of Heresies, in similar terms. I own a coffee mug with that title on it. I never use it for decaf.

In Castel Gandolfo, Pope Francis spoke of how Mary is with us in the struggle: “And in the struggle which the disciples must confront – all of us, all the disciples of Jesus, we must face this struggle - Mary does not leave them alone: the Mother of Christ and of the Church is always with us. She walks with us always, she is with us. And in a way, Mary shares this dual condition. She has of course already entered, once and for all, into heavenly glory. But this does not mean that she is distant or detached from us; rather Mary accompanies us, struggles with us, sustains Christians in their fight against the forces of evil.”

He then exhorted his listeners to pray the rosary. Every day.

When I was Navy ROTC at Notre Dame, a few friends and I would engage in ASW (Anti-Satanic Warfare) which consisted in praying the rosary, and I always thought that, as the beads passed through my fingers, they look an awful lot like a braid of ammo going into an anti-aircraft gun. 

Prayer is a declaration of our own weakness, but it brings immense strength because we call in air strikes from the heavy hitters. And the first among the redeemed is Our Mother in Heaven.

Benedictine College prepares to be consecrated to Mary, the world prepares for this as well, since Pope Francis will consecrate the world to Our Lady on October 13th. Having asked for such special protection, we can live in the hope that Our Lady will watch out for us and protect us.

There are many struggles for Catholics in the world today. I think things may get a heck of a lot more ugly. And that’s when Mary, whom we celebrate victorious over sin and death through the grace of her Son, grabs the wood of the Cross and rushes in to protect us. That’s beautiful.

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Reprinted with permission from the Gregorian Institute at Benedictine College.