Devotion to Our Lady has been integral to Dominican spirituality since the beginnings of the Order. As she who pondered the Word of God and kept it, Mary personifies the aim of our Dominican vocation. Marian devotion has likewise marked the charism of St. Cecilia Congregation from its foundation, and is especially reflected in the community’s regular prayer life and traditions. (Ceremonial and Customary of St. Cecilia Congregation)
The tolling of the bell is heard at morning, noon, and night as the sisters pray the words of the Angelus. These words, announcing our Redemption and recalling our Blessed Mother’s role in this mystery, are the first words we speak each day. A fitting reminder to us as religious women and as Dominicans, the Angelus urges us to imitate the self emptying of the Word. We are aided in this offering through our contemplation of the example of Mary, who mirrors her Son’s humility, obedience, and love. In our daily prayers, we return again and again to Mary as our mother, intercessor, and model.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to your word.
Prayers to Our Lady deepen our consciousness of the daily “fiat” necessary to our consecration. During the Easter Season, the Angelus is replaced by the Regina Caeli, bringing to our minds the joy that flows from obedient faith in the Paschal Mystery. As we pray the Memorare during noon prayers, Mary is presented to us again as our sure refuge. After Vespers, we pray our community Rosary. With and through Mary, we contemplate her Son. Each night the novices sing the Litany of Our Lady, where Mary is invoked under such beautiful titles as “Mother most pure,” “Virgin most faithful,” and “Cause of our joy.” Each night before Compline we commend ourselves to her protection as we pray the Sub Tuum Praesidium and place our house under her watch by invoking her as “Our Lady of this house.” After Compline, our treasured Salve procession places us securely under the protection of the Blessed Mother. A day full of common and private prayers to Mary ends with this fitting tribute to the handmaid of the Lord, the Queen of Preachers.
And the Word was made flesh. And dwelt among us.
We cultivate our devotion to Our Lady through specific Marian prayers, especially the Rosary. However, there is a fundamentally Marian disposition in all our prayer flowing from our identity as contemplative-active religious women. St. Augustine wrote that Mary conceived Christ in her heart before she conceived Him in her womb. In prayer and contemplation, we open our hearts to the knowledge and love of Christ and, like Mary, ponder his words, his acts, his truth. Only through such prayer are we able to bring Christ to our community and to our apostolate. By invoking Mary, we are strengthened in our role as bearers of the Word.
Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.