"Our Blessed Mother has been this beautiful, gentle presence throughout my life and I believe it's been her motherly care that's brought me back to her son Jesus. .. And, for me personally, I struggled in my life with the identity that I have as a woman. Somewhere along the line I kind of lost the true meaning of what it is to be a woman and the dignity of a woman, and I feel that our Blessed Mother has recently restored this to me, especially in the last two years. She's really taught me that the real dignity of a woman is our capacity to love and she is the perfect image of love because she is the masterpiece of all creation. She was picked to be the first tabernacle so she is to me the real image of a woman and the model of what we try to become more and more like. So, yeh, gentleness is the word that keeps coming to mind."
"From when I was very young, I always believed that Our Lady was our mother in heaven. So I knew that your mother always was there for you, so I used to say a Hail Mary to her that she would guide me and help me through me life, keep me from all bad company, sin and evil. I've always said that from when I was very young."
"Our Lady is the hope of mankind, she's the joy of mankind; the sweetest, loveliest woman who's lived. She's a presence and grace for all of us. She shows us how we can be fully human, she reveals Christ. She's the way to salvation, she's a friend who's always with us; she gives us strength. She's grace, blessing, and hope for our troubled world, a way through our own problems; she shows us the sanctity of life who's sweetness, kindness, love personified and we have an obligation to devote ourselves to her and her Immaculate Heart."
"Mother Mary is my life, my protector, my guide. She’s the one who shepherds me home to Jesus."
"At that moment I just had a real sense of God's healing presence, it was something so tangible and He was so real to me at that moment, it was just so real. I can remember the following days really praying at the Grotto. It was just the peace. I didn't want to leave. I can remember just saying prayers that I'd learned as a child. I knew that God was real, that Mary was real, and that I wanted to have a relationship with them. I suppose that healing that I experienced on that night, it changed the direction of my life. When I came back from Lourdes, all of my friends noticed that I just had this peace, and I was calm, and I accepted who I was and I knew at that moment and from then on that I was a child of God and that I was really loved by Him."
"Mary, my blessed mother, is my reason for hope and faith in the Catholic Church and in the world."
"Our Lady is a mother around me, as my mother has been dead for so long. I also left a prayer in the church (first time I've ever done it) to tell people to pray to her because she's never let me down on something really major these last couple of years. I'd been out of the church for about 5 or 6 years, and she brought me back into it through a prayer I found here."
"Our Lady to me is my life. She's obviously our spiritual mother but she is also going to be my intercessor at the hour of my death."
"I feel Mary is a loving caring mother and I always feel she is with me at all times, in times of joys and sorrows, in times of darkness and light. And when I minister in the hospital, I have a great devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes and I feel she's helping not only myself, but all the sick who are in deep pain and distress. And when we say the Hail Mary, it is powerful, and the Lourdes holy water. So I thank God for Our Lady, and I feel she's with me for the rest of my life, I praise you Lord, through Mary our Mother of Mercy. Amen."
Sister Maria is a Sister of Mercy.
"I always turn to Our Lady as my mother, I mean if I'm in trouble or anything. And even if I'm not in trouble, I just turn to her. She's there. She looks after you, she has you under her mantle."
"I see Mary as my mother and I've got a great devotion to her. She's the mother of Christ and she's our mother as well."
"I think Our Lady is very precious and gets me many things in my life. All the things that happened to me in my life, she helped me."
"I’ve always had great faith in Our Lady ... I always make a point of going to Knock whenever I go to Ireland because it means so much to me, and Our Lady of Knock has showered many blessings and answered many prayers for my family over the years."
"Mary is a wonderful person. She’s God’s Mother and she’s always looking after us. And she’s very close to her son and brings us closer to Jesus."
Sister Mary of Mercy is a Sister of Nazareth.
Father Matt Blake, a Carmelite priest currently based at the Carmel at Boars Hill, describes how St John of the Cross has been his inspiration throughout his priesthood.
"John gives us a way through the difficulties. John does not present us with superficial answers. John, rather, constantly draws us to Jesus Christ, to the Cross of Jesus Christ, to Jesus as the way, as the truth and the life. John, then, and his teaching, will not fail us and he has not failed me, and he has given me a well, a source of wisdom and of inspiration that I can constantly draw upon, and that sustains me on what is at times a very difficult road, but also a road that is filled with richness, with beauty, and ultimately a road that makes known to the world the greatness of God and the greatness of God's presence in each of our lives."
"When I was about 25, I started praying the rosary and again the rosary introduced me to Scripture and the mystery of what happened 2000 years ago. So when I say that I really trust Mary, in funny way she never really shows up herself, but whenever I do Marian things, like pray the rosary or go to Marian places, like I've been to Lourdes, Fatima, Medjugorje, special things happen and I grow in my love of God, and my trust in God grows and my joy grows, and I'm always just left with this flavour of Mary that she's been around in some way, even though I'm not looking directly at her, her trace is left there and it's a wonderful, motherly trace."
"Mary is for me a mother. Since I lost my mother when I was born (she was taken to heaven), I've looked upon Mary as my mother all my life and she has helped me, protected me and guided me as a true mother. Thank you, thank you Mother Mary, our Queen and our Mother but, as St Therese says, more a mother than a queen. Thank you, Mother Mary. Amen."
"Asked to speak what Our Lady means to me, I would say: a dear and close friend, the closest friend outside of the Trinity; a mother that I can always run to and cling to and hold on to; and in my walk with Christ, she is my example, she is the one I learn how to become a Christian more than any other saint. She's the one who teaches me to be silent in suffering, teaches me how to pray, teaches me to be attentive to God and to others, teaches me to be patient, teaches me to be generous and teaches me to love."
Brother Oisín Emmanuel is a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal.
Ollie: "Quite honestly, thanks be to God, I never lost my faith along the way and it’s still as strong as ever. 40 years of marriage we, myself and my good wife, still pray together. The rosary is very, very dear to me and if I didn’t say a rosary in the day, something would be wrong. ...
Bridget: "I pray to Mary every morning and night and I’ve done that with my husband for the last 40 years."
Ollie & Bridget celebrate their wedding anniversary on St Patrick's Day.
"When Patrck was alone on those hillsides, Slemish it was in County Armagh, he had noone to turn to for help but God. Patrick found God in his loneliness there. In fact Patrick needed those 6 years to mature, because at the end of the them he had become what we might call a holy man. He eventually escaped and found his way back to Wales. He became a priest and then a bishop. He writes in his Confessions: 'After I had come to Ireland, I daily used to feed cattle, and I prayed frequently during the day. The love of God and the fear of Him increased more and more, and faith became stronger and the spirit was stirred, so that in 1 day I said about 100 prayers and in the night nearly the same. So that I used even to remain in the woods and in the mountains; before daylight I used to rise to prayer through snow, frost and rain, and I felt no harm, nor was there any slothfulness in me as I now perceive because the spirit was then fervent within me.'"
Canon Pat Browne is parish priest at Holy Apostles Catholic Church in Pimlico, London.
"Each day we offer up everything to Our Lady, who is dearest to her son and nearest to her son."
"I owe Our Lady so much, because I lost my daughter last year to breast cancer and I thought I would never ever get over it, but I said the rosary every day to Our Lady and now I can cope. And I know she's with Our Lady, so that means a lot to me. She's done a lot for me, Our Lady, and I could never forget her."
"Our Lady makes man aware of his vocation to participate in the life of the Blessed Trinity … She is the reason why so many people can return with tenderness and belief in the mercy of God. She is the person who says to everyone 'Do what my son says.' She is, in the words of so many saints of the Father, 'the easy door to get into heaven'. And this is our hope. This is a story that Padre Pio used to tell: One day Jesus was walking along in the gardens of heaven. He saw some undesirable people in the gardens. He said nothing but in the afternoon he said to St Peter, when he saw how they'd multiplied a hundred fold, 'Why are there so many undesirables in heaven?' And Peter said 'It's not my fault. I am keeping the gate but whenever I'm at the gate, your mother comes along and opens all the windows.'"
"I first went to Medjugorje in 1988 .... From there on in, my life has been with the Blessed Mother, no matter what comes, no matter what happens in my life, because I know of the love the Blessed Mother has for me, and that she loves everybody. She's a mother, she's a perfect mother, and her motherly love is so beautiful and it has brought me to God the Father, brought me to Jesus, and to knowing the Holy Spirit."
"I really pray to the Mother of Perpetual Succour in Clonard Monastery in Belfast and whatever I need, she gives me."
"I love to say the rosary because I have discovered that in praying the rosary it is like comparing this holy cord to the umbilical cord of the mother's womb that feeds the baby in her womb. Our Lady, through these great mysteries, feeds us and conforms us more and more to the image of her son."
"I was diagnosed with breast cancer some years ago and 10 days after my operation I was in Lourdes. The surgeon told me that the type of tumour I had .. the cancer medication would have no effect. So I dedicated my life and I promised Our Lady that I would return to Lourdes for five consecutive years and she has taken care of me. I've never taken medication for the cancer and she's taken care of me every step of the way and that's 14 years ago. She's my mother and that's the highest thing I can say, that she's my mother and I love her."
"Mary is a very special person in my life because I would pray to Mary for special things that I look for and I believe that she keeps everyone safe."
"When you pray to Our Lady I think that there is kind of more steadiness to your faith, it gets more consistent. I think it's very easy to be up and down about God, and kind of blowing in the wind, and I think Mary steadies me a bit, or a lot actually. The main prayer that I say at the moment, apart from going to Mass obviously, is the rosary. I try to say it every day and I find it unbelievably helpful for me."
"Mary is the most tender of mothers as, at the foot of the Cross ,she received us. And she is also a fantastic model of humility as shown at the Annunciation. And as I’m standing here for the Good Counsel Network, a prolife organisation here in London, that's a particularly special mystery for me, the Annunciation, just the acceptance of God's will and how she has demonstrated that in her own life so perfectly. It means that she is not only a mother to me, she's also a role model."
"Our Blessed Mother to me is my protector and my best friend. And I feel that when I am in need, she is my comforter. Our Blessed Mother, pray for us all who are in need. Amen."
"Our Lady to me is my mum. I think she is really the perfect model of how best to love people as a young woman today."
"I always pray to Our Lady because I’ve got 3 sons and they won’t go to Church, and I have to pray to her that they'll come back again and be good Catholics."
"Our Lady, she’s wonderful, she’s the Mother of Holy God, isn’t she! She's everything in the world to me, and anything I ever ask her for favours, for my kids or for myself, she’s always there for us, body, soul and spirit. And she comes with her Baby Jesus to us. She means so much to me: she's my mother, and she's all our mother."
"Mary is the mother of everybody, so we should look to her as our mother and treat her as if she were our earthly mother."
"Mary is our mother and the more we give our life to Jesus and come to her, she brings us straight to Jesus. She never praises herself, she never gives glory to herself. Mary is full of humility from the word go, when the angel came to her and said she's to be the mother of Jesus. … I love Mary, even in my weakness."
"Mary is my mother and she’s the mother of Jesus. And without her we would be all lost because only for her Jesus wouldn't be here. So, thank you Mary for saying yes to the angel and saying yes to God."