In our call to prayer, we are given the powerful and provocative image of Mary of Nazareth, God-Bearer, First Disciple, and Mother of the Church. No one followed the Lord’s life of prayer better than this maid of Galilee. She stands for us as the mother of prayer and as the perfected model of holiness and of interior union with God.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us: “The Gospel reveals to us how Mary prays and intercedes in faith.” And so, we look at the written Word of God and see the shining example of Our Lady at prayer.

The Catechism gives us two occasions in which we see the Mother of the Lord at prayer.

First, we are directed to Cana. The Catechism teaches us: “At Cana, the mother of Jesus asks her son for the needs of a wedding feast; this is the sign of another feast – that of the wedding of the Lamb where he gives his body and blood at the request of the Church, his Bride.”

Such a simple request of charity is power-packed with biblical and messianic meaning. Our Lady’s kindness is expressed in an act of prayer and – in this combined act of mercy and intercession – we see the reflection of another wedding feast.

The wedding feast of the Lamb is the fulfillment and consummation of all things in God. The wedding feast is prepared and offered in the Lord’s Paschal Mystery, which is his passion, death, and resurrection, and it is expressed at every Eucharistic Sacrifice. The reception of Holy Communion during the Eucharistic Sacrifice by the baptized is the partaking of the foretaste – the appetizer – of the wedding feast of the Lamb.

As Our Lady was at Cana, so she is present at Calvary. The sign gives way to the reality. The famous “woman” of Saint John’s Gospel is fulfilling her vocation as the New Eve, the woman of the messianic promise of Eden. The woman who initiated the Lord’s public ministry is now the woman with him at the cross.

The Catechism explains: “It is at the hour of the New Covenant, at the foot of the cross, that Mary is heard as the Woman, the new Eve, the true ‘Mother of all the living.’”

After showing us Our Lady at prayer in Cana, the Catechism then turns our attention to her magnificent and moving canticle of praise. Our Lady sang as she saw the work of redemption beginning. She sang when she realized the work of God in her and through her. She sang. It was prayer expressed in song because only song could capture and express the joy and jubilation of her heart.

The prayer of Mary is to be our prayer. We are called to see the work of redemption in us, to marvel at the presence and work of God in us and through us, and to rejoice – fully celebrate in song – all that God has done and continues to do in our lives.

It’s for this reason that the Catechism gives this description of Our Lady’s prayer: “That is why the Canticle of Mary, the Magnificat (Latin) or Megalynei (Byzantine) is the song both of the Mother of God and of the Church; the song of the Daughter of Zion and of the new People of God; the song of thanksgiving for the fullness of graces poured out in the economy of salvation and the song of the ‘poor’ whose hope is met by the fulfillment of the promises made to our ancestors, ‘to Abraham and to his posterity forever.’”

The canticle of Our Lady is an encouragement and impetus to us. In our lives, we are to imitate her as her heart was filled with glory and adulation to God. The Magnificat is a template for us in our own prayer. It spiritually extends and manifests the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father, the very prayer given to us by the Lord Jesus himself. In the Magnificat, we see the believer’s response to the Lord’s splendor and majesty, to his goodness and mercy to us.

At Cana and in the Magnificat, we see Our Lady at prayer. We see her soul consumed by the things of God and overflowing with praise and intercession. In our lives, we are called to follow this path and let our spiritual mother teach us, so that we can unite ourselves more fully with the Lord Jesus as we seek to pray and follow God’s will in our lives.