Behold Thy Mother
A 30-day challenge to discover the Virgin Mary in Scripture and Tradition
In this 30-day challenge, Behold Thy Mother, you will have the opportunity to discover Mary in Scripture and Tradition and learn to use Verbum‘s resources and tools. We structured the study around the words of the primary Marian prayer, the Hail Mary. By the end of the challenge you will have a comprehensive understanding of the Catholic perspective on Mary and know how to use the tools in your software. New to Verbum? Try it for 30 days.
Day 1: Who Is Mary in Scripture?
Ready to begin learning about Mary? The best way to do this is to start with the Scriptures.
Begin by going to the Bible translation of your choice in your Library. You can access the Library by clicking the icon of the three books in the top left of the app. Search for a Bible translation by name (e.g., “New American Bible” or “Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition”) or filter your Library by type to show only Bibles. When you find your preferred Bible translation, click the three vertical dots and select “Prioritize this resource.”
Click on the title of your preferred Bible translation to open it, then type “Luke 1:26–38” in the search field within the opened resource just beneath the title.
Day 2: Who Is Mary in Tradition?
One of the most beautiful things about the Church is how through Scripture and Tradition she “makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ” (CCC 80). One way you can see the harmony between Scripture and Tradition is through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea, or “golden chain,” a commentary wherein the Angelic Doctor takes pieces of the writings of the Church Fathers, weaving them into a single commentary on each of the four Gospels.
Today, you will go to your Library and search “Catena Aurea.” The Catena Aurea volumes have long titles; expand the width of the Library Search Screen by clicking and dragging the right edge. Open the third volume, on the Gospel of Luke. In the inline search box of the Catena Aurea volume on Luke, type “Luke 1:26–38” and press enter. Read the passage and commentary and meditate on what the Church Fathers have to say about Mary’s role in salvation history.
Day 3: Who Is Mary to Us?
Now that you have encountered Mary in Scripture and in the writings of the Church Fathers, today is an opportunity to reflect on how you might encounter Mary as your Mother in your own faith.
Begin by opening your Catechism of the Catholic Church and reading CCC 963–971. As you read this, reflect on Mary’s Motherhood, first of Jesus and then of the Church. As the Mother of the Church, she is also your Mother. After you have read the Catechism passages, open a new note for this Marian study by clicking the Tools icon next to the Go Box, and clicking the Notes icon on the drop-down menu. Click the blue “New Note” button to create a new note. In that note, reflect on the following questions:
- What does Mary’s Motherhood of Christ teach us about her Motherhood of the Church?
- How can getting to know Mary as our Mother help us to grow closer to her Son, Jesus?
- How can you develop a deeper relationship over the course of this study with your Mother, Mary?
Full of Grace
Day 4: What Does “Full of Grace” Mean?
When Gabriel calls Mary “full of grace,” what does that mean?
Verbum’s Passage Guide can help you begin to answer that question. When you type “Luke 1:26–38” into your Go Box, you have the option to open the Passage Study Layout. You can also access the Passage Guide by selecting the Guides icon to the right of the Go Box and choosing “Passage Guide.”
Once you click to open that option, Verbum will provide you with resources in your library related to the Scripture passage, from parallel passages to commentaries to liturgical references and the passage in Scripture itself—even information about the particular words in the passage.
Day 5: What Is the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception?
After looking at the Scriptural foundations of the phrase “full of grace,” take the opportunity to dive into the Church’s teachings about Mary. Mary, above all human persons, has received what St. John Paul II termed a special “glory of grace” due to her role as Christ’s Mother.
To learn more about the special grace conferred on Mary, read chapter 22 from this resource in your Verbum library: Faith Facts: Answers to Catholic Questions, Volume I. Read through this chapter to learn about the dogma of the immaculate conception. Then, take a few moments to answer the “Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion” found at the end of the chapter to reflect on what you have learned about the wonderful way in which God has graced Mary.
Day 6: What Is Mary’s Role in Salvation?
Today, consider Mary’s role in the economy of salvation. In the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium, the Council Fathers clearly articulate what Mary’s role is as Mother of God and how she participates in her Son’s salvific work.
In reading through sections 55–59 of the council document, you will begin to see how God, in predestining the Mother of his Son to be “full of Grace,” prepared Mary for a special participation in the redemptive action of her Son, Jesus.
After reading through the passage from Lumen Gentium, open the note you created on Day 3 for this Marian Study by clicking the Tools icon next to the Go Box, then the Notes icon on the drop-down menu. The main Notes Screen will allow you to filter notes by author and select those by “You.” Find your Marian Study Note and write answers to the following questions:
- What passages or phrases in the Old Testament does Lumen Gentium understand as prophetically foreshadowing Mary?
- How do the holy Fathers of the Church see Mary as freely cooperating in the human work of salvation? What can the basis of Mary’s cooperation teach you about your own Christian life? Are there ways in which you can better follow the example set out by Mary?
- What can Mary’s earthly life teach you about how your life can be lived in union with Christ?
The Lord Is with Thee
Day 7: Monastic Contemplation of Mary
The angel tells Mary: “the Lord is with you.” Verbum’s Lectio Divina Workflow can enrich your study of Mary by walking you through the monastic practice of Lectio Divina.
Find Workflows by clicking the Guides button at the top of the Verbum screen between Docs and Tools. Scroll down to the Workflows section, and click on the Lectio Divina Workflow option. Once that opens, type in “Luke 1:26” into the search box, and follow the guide as you enter into this contemplative study of Scripture.
Day 8: Learn Basic Bible Study
Yesterday, you had the chance to use the Lectio Divina Workflow to contemplate a part of the Luke passage at the foundation of our study. Today, you will look at the whole passage, using the Basic Bible Study Workflow tool Verbum provides.
Find the Basic Bible Study Workflow by clicking on the Guides button at the top of the Verbum screen between Docs and Tools. Scroll down to the Workflows section and choose the Basic Bible Study Workflow. Type “Luke 1:26–38” into the Bible reference box and follow the guide as you work your way through a small Bible study on this passage.
Day 9: Meditation on Mary from Pope Benedict XVI
Verbum’s Library provides us with many wonderful resources. Today you will have the chance to explore a wonderful text by Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) entitled Seek That Which Is Above.
The past few days, you have been considering what it means for the Lord to be with Mary; now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will encourage you to meditate on what it means for the Lord to be with you. As you read, reflect on your own walk with the Lord.
Click here to open the book to Chapter 2 in the web app and read until the end of the chapter. Then open the note you created on Day 3 for this Marian Study by clicking the Tools icon next to the Go Box and clicking the Notes icon on the drop-down menu. The main Notes Screen will allow you to filter notes by author and select those by “You.” Find your Marian Study Note and write answers to the following questions:
- How is the Lord with you in a different way than with Mary?
- How is the Lord with you in a way that is similar to how he is with Mary?
- How can you walk closer to the Lord in your life this week?
Blessed Art Thou Amongst Women
Day 10: What Is the Immaculate Conception?
Perhaps you’ve heard about the immaculate conception but can never remember if it refers to Mary or Jesus. Or you have a strong devotion to Mary as the immaculate conception but want to learn more about why God gave her that specific grace. Wherever you are in your spiritual life, the Verbum Library has many resources to help you continue to grow deeper in your faith.
Start with this resource to learn more about the immaculate conception: "The Catholic Mary": Quite Contrary to the Bible? This resource will help you to learn more about what the immaculate conception is and why the Church proclaims this teaching about Mary.
Day 11: Marian Devotions of the Saints
The Church has long proclaimed Mary as “blessed among women.” The saints show their deep love for her in imitating her holiness, with their devotion to her, and in how they turn to her so that she might bring them closer to her Son. Today, you have the opportunity to learn more about a few saints who were particularly well known for their devotion to Mary.
Type “Saints” in the Go Box at the top of your Verbum app and select “Open Saints.” This is an index of the saints of the Church with links to resources in your Library that discuss them. Type the name of a saint in the inline search box to find the hagiographical resources that your Library holds:
Day 12: Mary’s “Yes”
Mary is not the first woman in Scripture to respond to God’s call, but she does have a certain preeminence in salvation history. We can better understand what makes Mary so unique by looking at other holy women in Scripture and meditating on how radical Mary’s “yes” is in the course of Salvation history. She held nothing back from God and had no doubt in his ability to act.
Verbum allows you to open multiple resources at once and read them side by side. Open the following three passages in separate windows in Verbum using the three-column layout, which you can find in the Layout Icon on the right corner of the app:
Blessed Is the Fruit of Thy Womb
Day 13: What Mary Knew about Jesus
One common question about Mary is: After the angel appeared to her, what exactly did Mary know about the fruit of her womb? Did she know that her Son was also the Son of God?
Scripture and Tradition can help gain better insight into Mary’s interior life, learning what God revealed to her. In exploring this question, open the second chapter of the book “The Catholic Mary”: Quite Contrary to the Bible? When Scripture passages are mentioned in the text, click the links to open and read those passages.
Next, open the note you created on Day 3 for this Marian Study by clicking the Tools icon next to the Go Box, and clicking the Notes icon on the drop-down menu. The main Notes Screen will allow you to filter notes by author and select those by “You.” Add to this note any reflections or questions you have while reading through the chapter.
Day 14: Mary as New Ark of the Covenant
Mary is often referred to mystically as the “New Ark of the Covenant,” because she carried the New Covenant (Jesus) in her womb, just as the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament carried the tablets of the Old Law.
Use Verbum’s Catholic Topical Index to explore what the Church teaches about the Ark of the Covenant. Type “Catholic Topical Index” in the Go Box and select “Open Catholic Topical Index.” By reading and learning what you can know from Scripture and Tradition about the Old Ark of the Covenant, you can meditate on what God is revealing about Mary, the New Ark of the Covenant, in a mystical way.
Day 15: Mary as the New Eve
Verbum offers access to a wide variety of textual resources in your Library, but that is not the only type of resource available to you. There are also many helpful Media Resources, including the Catholic Answers Video Library, that can help you grow in your knowledge of the faith.
Today, you will have the chance to learn more about how Jesus and Mary compare to Adam and Eve from Catholic Answers Senior Apologist Jimmy Akin.
To access this resource, click on the Library icon next to your Go Box and type Catholic Answers Video Library. Once you’ve opened the Catholic Answers Video Library, scroll through the table of contents until you reach the video entitled “Jesus and Mary Compared to Adam and Eve.” Or, if you are using the desktop app, press Control+F (PC) or Command+F and type the name of the video. Click the link to the video and proceed to watch.
Day 16: What Does It Mean to Be Holy?
One of the advantages of reading texts through Verbum is the way the program allows you to access linked resources in your library. Today, you will be reflecting on what it means for Mary to be “holy,” by learning more about what the Bible teaches about holiness.
Open the book 101 Questions and Answers on Saints to Question 7: “What Does the Bible Teach about Holiness?” As you read this resource, hover your cursor over Scripture passages referenced in order to easily read those passages.
After you have read this section, open the note you created on Day 3 for this Marian Study by clicking the Tools icon next to the Go Box, and clicking the Notes icon on the drop-down menu. The main Notes Screen will allow you to filter notes by author and select those by “You.” Find your Marian Study Note and write a short reflection, answering why, given what you have learned, it is fitting to call Mary “holy.”
Day 17: The Assumption
Yesterday, you had a chance to meditate on what it means for Mary to be holy. Today, you will learn about a special gift that follows from Mary’s holiness: her assumption, body and soul, into heaven. Find the resource Open Wide the Doors to Christ in your Library and read the chapter on the assumption of Mary. Why is the assumption “the logical consequence of the immaculate conception”?
Day 18: Queenship of Mary
Verbum isn’t limited to text-based resources. The Verbum Media Resources provide information and practices to help grow your faith from well-known Catholic theologians, like Bishop Robert Barron.
In exploring Mary’s queenship through readings in Scripture and commentary like that found in the Catholic Bible Dictionary, don’t forget to also watch Bishop Barron’s explanation, which you can open in the web app here or find in the desktop app by searching for “Word on Fire Video Library” in the Go Box.
Mother of God
Day 19: Mother of God
“Mother of God” is one of the oldest titles the Church applies to Mary, but at first the title can seem strange. Does it place Mary above the Trinity? No, it does not! What it does is recognize that Mary really is the Mother of the Word made Flesh.
To understand this teaching, we can read more about The First Marian Dogma: Mary, Mother of God in the book Faith Facts: Answers to Catholic Questions. Make sure to hover your cursor over the links within the text to read what the Scriptures and Catechism have to say as well.
Day 20: The Radical Act of the Word
You now know what it means to call Mary “Mother of God,” but the Church can only give her that title because of the radical act of the Word, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, assumed a human nature. That is the central truth of our faith: God became man and dwelt among us.
But how can Jesus be both God and human? Bishop Barron addresses this exact question in a video from the Word on Fire Video Library found in your Media Resources.
Day 21: Mary’s Perpetual Virginity
St. John Paul II wrote in Mulieribus Dignitatem that virginity and motherhood are two particular dimensions of the fulfillment of the female personality that, in the light of the gospel, “acquire their full meaning and value in Mary, who as a virgin became the Mother of the Son of God.”
Meditating on Mary’s virginal Motherhood leads to many questions. This is where Verbum’s Annotation Tools, such as highlighting, note-taking, and cross-referencing can be a huge asset to your study. You can use them by highlighting text and right-clicking on it.
Read the following two passages from your Library (Mary’s Virginal Motherhood in God’s Plan and Why Catholics Believe in the Perpetual Virginity of Mary and Make it a Dogma) and use your annotation tools to help you as you learn more about Mary.
Pray for Us Sinners Now
Day 22: Mary, Our Advocate
When Christ was on the Cross, He told his disciple John, “behold your mother.” The Church has always understood that in Christ’s sacrificial act he held nothing back from his Church, even his Mother. Christ gave Mary to the Church to be our Mother, just as she is his. It is for this reason we call Mary the “advocate for the people of God.” As our advocate, she is always interceding for us to her Son.
Learn more by turning to “What’s a Mother to Do: Mary’s Role in Our Salvation” in Faith Facts: Answers to Catholic Questions, Volume 1.
After you have read this section, answer the “Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion” at the end of the chapter.
Day 23: Mary, Model for the Church
Returning to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s work, Seek That Which is Above, the former pontiff will help you meditate deeper on Mary and how she is a model for the Church, leading us to a deeper encounter with Christ.
Today, read how “Marian Contemplation Leads to the Heart of the Mystery.”
After you have read this section, open up the note you created on Day 3 for this Marian Study by clicking the Tools icon next to the Go Box, and clicking the Notes icon on the drop-down menu. The main Notes Screen will allow you to chose notes authored by “You.” After meditating on how the Word saturated Mary’s life, reflect on the following questions:
- Where can your relationship with Mary grow?
- How can your relationship with Mary help you grow closer to Christ?
- Mary’s intercession can aid the Church. What can you turn to Mary with and trust her to intercede on behalf of you for today?
Day 24: Mary, Intercede
Chances are, you’ve probably wondered or been asked by someone, “Why do Catholics ask Mary to pray for them?” The resources in the Verbum Library provide ample support for answering such questions, whether you are engaging in apologetic discourse or just wanting to discover the answers for yourself.
Explore this question using some of the following resources:
And at the Hour of Death
Day 25: Memento Mori
Memento mori, remember that you will die. The Church has always encouraged her children to remember that this life is neither the only, nor most important, life they will live. Instead, she encourages her children to remember their deaths and live a life such that they will be happy with God forever in heaven. Death is not to be feared as the saints and martyrs, following in Christ’s footsteps, demonstrate. Instead, death is the means by which we enter into eternal life.
Nevertheless, contemplating death is a fearful thought for many, and so it is helpful to look at the precise teachings the Church has. Today, you will learn what the Church teaches about death.
First, open the Catechism to the section that addresses “the meaning of Christian death” (CCC 1010–1019). Then explore the commentary on the Catechism, Living the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which offers further insight into how the Catholic should understand death.
After you have read these sections, open up the note you created on Day 3 for this Marian Study by clicking the Tools icon next to the Go Box, and clicking the Notes icon on the drop-down menu. The main Notes Screen will allow you to chose notes authored by “You.” Reflect on the following questions:
- How are we to understand death as Catholics?
- Is death something to fear? What gives us hope in the face of death?
- How, in your life, can you begin to understand death as a “gain”?
Day 26: What Does the Church Believe?
Get a succinct overview of what the Church has to say on a topic without searching through dozens of books or websites with Verbum’s Catholic Topical Index. Let’s try it by searching for “Mary.”
Click on the Guides link in between the Docs and Tools at the top of Verbum, and scroll down to click the Topic Guides link. Under Topic Guides, click Catholic Topical Index. Type in “Mary” in the search box, and explore what the Church has to say in the Scriptures, Teachings, Liturgy, and Tradition.
Day 27: Mary as Intercessor
When you pray for perseverance, that you will remain faithful to God until the end of your life, you pray with confidence, knowing that God is a good Father. He won’t give his children stones when they ask for bread. Moreover, God has given us a good Mother, Mary, advocate for the people of God. Every time you pray the “Hail Mary,” you entrust your last moments into the maternal care of Mary, who never ceases to advocate for her children to her Son.
To learn more about Mary’s love and her desire to help all Christians remain faithful to their baptismal promises, you will be reading a selection from 101 Questions & Answers on Prayer by Joseph T. Kelly. Here, he will help you come to understand more deeply Mary’s role as an intercessor and how that helps you to remain faithful to God and die a happy death.
After you have read this section, open up the note you created on Day 3 for this Marian Study by clicking the Tools icon next to the Go Box and clicking the Notes icon on the drop-down menu. The main Notes Screen will allow you to chose notes authored by “You.” Allow yourself to reflect on what you have learned while answering the following questions:
- What does it mean to die a holy, or happy, death?
- What role can Mary’s intercession play in helping us to die a holy death?
- How can you help yourself to remember to entrust your death to Mary every day?
Behold Thy Mother
Day 28: Mary, Mother of God
Mary has a special role in salvation history because she is the Mother of God. You have meditated over the past 27 days on the meaning behind the “Hail Mary” prayer, growing and deepening in your relationship with Mary and her Son, Jesus.
Today, you will be challenged to step back from focusing on all the tiny details and particular dogmas and teachings about Mary and instead view her in light of the whole of salvation history.
To help you place Mary in the context of the whole of God’s plan, Timothy Gray discusses what Scripture reveals about Mary in Catholic for a Reason. Click the link to go to chapter 9 of the book in the web app. After you read this selection, challenge yourself to pray a “Hail Mary” slowly, multiple times. Meditate on the mission God called Mary to undertake and how in her role as Mother of God and of the Church her mission extends to loving you as well.
- Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Day 29: Marian Prayer
Yesterday, you ended your reflection with the most well-known Marian prayer: the Hail Mary. Today, you will learn more about Marian prayer.
First, you can look at what the Catechism has to say about the Hail Mary here: CCC 2673–2682.
Next, learn more about the rosary, of which the Hail Mary is one of the base prayers, in Open Wide the Doors to Christ: Discovering Catholicism and the Youcat, which will teach you how to pray the Rosary, if you have never done so before.
Finally, take a moment to pause and pray the rosary, meditating on the mysteries of Christ’s life, asking Mary to reveal her Son to you, even if only for a decade. Remember, as St. Louis de Montfort said, “The rosary is the most powerful weapon to touch the heart of Jesus, our Redeemer, who loves his Mother.”
Day 30: Closing Prayer
On the last day of this study, take a moment to review your notes and annotations. Reflect on what you have learned about Mary, how you have encountered her, and how that has drawn you closer to Jesus.
Though the study itself is at an end, we hope that your relationship with Mary continues to grow deeper as you grow in love for her and her Son, prompting you to continue to learn more about your faith as you continue in the Christian life.
Today, we invite you to join us in praying one final prayer, to ask Mary to continue to walk with you and guide you as you live out your life, seeking to always imitate her Son more and more each day.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.