"For me Mary is a surprise, because there was never a devotion to Mary in my very Catholic upbringing, and in the last few years I've discovered that she is the one woman that even God put his confidence in. She was able to give a yes that resounded through the ages that I can cling to when I can't say yes to anything, she was obedient when I find myself rebellious and she's the one who understands every suffering because she stood beneath the Cross. Because she's now rejoicing in heaven and she will never forget us and she'll love us to the end, I can place all my hope in her intercession."
"Each time that I've been to Paray-le-Monial (I've been there 3 times now) it's been a really blessed and a very deep experience in my faith journey. And I would say that this image of Christ and the revelation of His Sacred Heart to St Margaret Mary is the image of Christ that touches me the most and that speaks to me the most: Christ's open heart that he shared with this saint and shared through her to the world, and the burning love that He has through His Sacred Heart and this desire, this thirst, for us to return some of that love that He so yearns for from us. Every time that I've been there, I've just experienced a great peace and just resting there with him, and just really experiencing Christ's heart and being with Him and receiving that grace, and experiencing this intense love that Christ has for each of us and for Christ's Church."
"I really love Our Lady because she is the Mother of God and she said yes to God, without fear, without objection of what could happen, she openly said yes."
"Today I’m thinking particularly of Mary as Mother of a son who died because today is the day that my own son died a year ago. So I go to her for consolation and realise that in his case it had such a glorious outcome, and I try and work out how any kind of good outcome can come from my own marvellous, brillilant son's death."
"I also want to be a beloved disciple of Jesus, so that's why I want to take Mary into my life."
Colossians 5, 16 - Let the message of Christ in all its richness find a home with you, teach each other and advise each other in all wisdom. - "It really talks about living out the message of Christ in your life just by the way in which you conduct yourself and I think it's a really inspiring verse and is simple and sits easy with people."
"When times are difficult and when I'm learning to be a mum, Mary is there and guiding and providing me with a model for me to work from."
"For me Mary is someone who's very close to us who we can always go to to ask her anything, and really does listen to us and grant our prayers or take them to her son."
"Mary for me is the perfect example of what a woman should be, with a perfect resignation to the divine will, and our heavenly mother."
"Saint Nicholas Owen is one of the 40 martyrs of England and Wales. He was a lay brother of the Jesuit order and built priest holes in recusant houses so that priests could be harboured in them - they could celebrate Mass there and escape into these holes when a raid happened. Arguably he's one of the saints that kept the faith alive in England, the key man really because if it wasn't for these holes then lots of priests would have been arrested .. He died whilst being tortured on a rack.. I think he's an inspiring character."
"Mary is very important in our home. We every day recite the rosary in the evening around the fire before bedtime, we give thanks and we ask for things, intercessions from her - it's so important to ask Mary. And she's a mother, and the children can understand that they're asking a mother, and the mother will ask the Son, and they make promises to Mary and it helps them move forward in their faith, I'm sure it does. So Mary is very central to our lives as a family and it all began really because our first daughter said to us one day 'We should say the rosary as a family' and we hadn't until that time, so we're very grateful to my first daughter for suggesting that."
"Really this seemed to be very simply a sign, a gift, and a miracle from Our Lady, And I took it as a sign of her benediction and a sign somehow of the reality of her place in God's plan and the reality of her intercession and the reality of her mission to draw us closer to God and closer to Christ her son."
"Saint Dominic Savio was an Italian boy, who with the salesians was under the direction of St John Bosco. He died at the age 14 but the reason why he was canonised was his life of virtue and resisting peer pressure .. He had a strong will and loved Jesus and Mary, and dedicated himself to them and so with their grace he was able to resist temptations .. He is a really great example of how one can put one's hands into Our Lord's and trust in Him to keep one pure and free from sin."
"It strikes me very much that there is a great urgency in Our Lady's message of Fatima. There are some things that are very familiar from other apparitions: appearing to the simple, the children as in Lourdes, appearing with words of comfort and encouragement. But also a real urgency to her mission to the children, showing that vision of hell in the vision in July, and that seems to have really changed everything for them because they absolutely dedicate themselves to the mission which Mary gave them, the mission of prayer and penance. When they have seen the consequences and the cost of human sin, they dedicate the rest of their lives to this mission because they just understand the danger that we place ourselves in through our own free choice of sin, of darkness. But how Our Lady, how she yearns for us to live in the light, to choose the light, to choose her Son. That's always Mary's vocation: to lead us to her Son, to walk in his ways, to love him."
"The parish priest came bounding up to me, big smile on his face, and he just gave me this big hug and said 'Richard, don't worry, be happy!' And I just knew - when he gave me that hug, when he said those words to me - that that's what I wanted: I wanted to be happy, to know real, deep joy in a way that I hadn't really in my life up to that point, and that this man, this Church, this community, this Christ whom they worshipped, that was the key to this happiness. And that began my journey. I began to go back to that church week after week, and not only on Sundays. I would find other churches in the city that were open during the day and between English lessons I would go in and just sit down. Every church had a copy of the Divine Mercy painting in, and I couldn't speak very much Polish but when I could look at that image literally walking towards me, almost coming out of the painting towards me, I began to talk to Him, I began to share my heart, my hopes, my anxieties, my ups, my downs, and that was the beginning of a relationship for me with Christ, the beginning of my prayer life really. And I've always been really grateful to that, that's how God brought me to prayer, in such a direct way, heart to heart with Jesus."
Father Richard is parish priest of Our Lady of Fatima Church in White City, London, and vocations director for the archdiocese of Westminster.
"My conversion to like really become Catholic was through the Virgin Mary, the Virgin of Fatima. She's the person who showed me the light, who took me from the darkness and really has been beside me ever since, taking me in like a baby and she's just really been an inspiration and just unbelievable. She's been there for me always, ever since."
"World Youth Day is a fantastic place to find out what your vocation is because it's just a week devoted to you and what you want to do with your life and what you want to do with God."
"The rosary is from the archangel Gabriel, saying 'Hail Mary, full of grace' so it's directly from Scripture, It's a prayer of intercession and its such a good and powerful prayer."
"There’s a wonderful sense of Mary being a pilgrim and a traveller with you, in that she was just like you and me but without sin, and she had to take all those leaps of faith. In fact she was the first believer, as John Paul II said, she believed in Jesus before anybody else did. So I would say she helps my faith and helps me through her prayers believe in Jesus."
"I have complete trust that when I entrust my prayers to Mary that my life is in her hands and that nobody who ever turned to her has been left unaided."
Robert on Saint John Paul II
Robert's introduction to JPII was when, aged 17,he read the Pope's encyclical 'Fides et Ratio' (Faith and Reason). He relates here how this led him to the Catholic Church and picks out some of the moments in JP2's life that have particularly inspired and encouraged him. His JPII quote is "Truth and freedom either go hand in hand or perish in misery."
Robert Colquhoun is now International Outreach Director of 40 Days for Life, a community organiser and pro-life activist, campaigning to build a growing appreciation of the inalienable rights of every unborn child. For more about his great work, visit his website.
"My personal view on Our Lady is a sense of warmth and comfort that we can take through a conversation within our hearts and a stirring of our soul with her."
Robert Francis, a convert to the Catholic faith, speaks about the Eucharist
"For me the Eucharist is something extremely precious to everyone as we all are able to give something to God, even though it isn't needed, in the form of our prayers and the eucharistic prayer as a community. Then on receiving the Eucharist the gift of grace that it fills us, whether we are praying for an intention of our own or for someone that we love."
"At first hand I had a wonderful, wonderful experience of being received by Jesus and Mary, and then I discovered St Louis de Montfort total consecration to Jesus through Mary .. Over the last 3 years I've consecrated myself to Jesus through Mary doing the 33 day preparation and it means for me doing everything for Jesus through Mary, and it has just made a total difference to my life."
"My first meeting of Mary was, in a big time basis, was going to Lourdes. The statue in the grotto and the candles remain in my mind since my first visit to Lourdes, and I went to Lourdes several times. She's a constant help, she's an eternal help. She's always been there when I needed her and like any mother does, keeps it a constant without question and without asking whys and wherefores. So with her in mind, especially praying the rosary, it means that there's always somebody there that you can talk to and be appreciated for what you're trying to do, and she'll always understand, that's the good thing about her."
"I just love Our Lady, she’s wonderful and she always helps me just to put Jesus in the first place, which needs a lot of hard work where she’s concerned but I’m so grateful to her for everything."
"Mary has always been with me, at times perhaps I was unaware of her gentle, loving presence, but I think, as I look back on my life, I see her gentle love, her guiding hand beside me, watching over and guiding me. In a remarkable way I think that awareness came upon me when I first visited Lourdes, where her presence there touched me deeply and began for me a journey that I guess I hadn't expected I'd be making, this journey towards monasticism and the priesthood, that journey of responding to the still, small voice of the Lord. And that continued, a growing awareness of how Mary was there alongside me, always guiding, gently encouraging, And at remember too my first pilgrimage I made, back in 1989, when I arrived in Medjugorje for the first time on 1st January, the feast day of Our Lady Mother of God. And how, from the very first moment, those first hours, I was aware that here in this place, in a remarkable way that Mary has touched with her presence. Over the years as I have returned there, I've found a source of strength on my journey, a source of strength in my ministry, a source of encouragement and of real joy. So now when I return, I return there because I have as sense in quite a remarkable way, returning to be alongside, to be with, to spend time with the Blessed Mother, our mother, the mother of Our Lord. It's as if within that place, her presence can be felt, when our hearts are open to receive her love. And in receiving that love, we're aware that she's calling us not only closer to her heart, but always, through her heart ,to the heart of Jesus, her son, our Lord, our Saviour. It's as if in our own day, Mary has been given to us as such a wonderful gift, given to us that our hearts may be opened not only to her presence but through her to the presence of the Lord."
Dom Roderick Jones is a Benedictine monk at Worth Abbey.
"For me Mary, I would say, would be my maternal guidance in my life .. I will pray a rosary at least twice a day and for that, it is my most powerful weapon. Saying that, on Sunday I was randomly pulled by the police, just because of the way I was dressed. And they said 'Have you got any weapons on you?' So I pulled out my rosary and said 'Yes, this is my weapon.' They raised some eyebrows and gave a good chuckle and let me on my way. It was only thanks to having Mary in my life that I could do something as sensible as that."
"Our Holy Mother came into my life many years ago when I was a child and she has stayed with me all my life. When I went to Medjugorje she came into my life in a special way and now I pray the rosary every day. Our Lady has helped me through many trials and tribulations, and I couldn't live without her. And she's the Queen of heaven and the Queen of my heart."
"For me, Mary was my invitation into the Church and for a year I just prayed to her and I realised that one day I was praying to her Son. So for me she’ll always remain the call back to her Son."
"I feel privileged to say something about Our Lady, who means everything to me, her and her son. She has blessed our family so much and I guess in a lot of ways through my daughter, who's now become a nun. When she was young we came to Youth 2000 and after it, she loved saying the rosary so much, she knew it was so special, she got us as a family to say it every night and I think as a result it kept our family on track (not that we're perfect in any way). But I have Our Lady to thank for our many blessings."
"To me, Mary is a mother, she's a protector. I know that I can always rely on her, go to her, speak honestly about the problems that I have, and she's always there to guide me. I have strong faith in her, that she helps me in many ways and leads me to Jesus."
"When I think about Our Lady, I think of someone that I’ve always known, I’ve always been lucky enough to have known her, thought about her, loved her, from my earliest memories. When I was a teenager I picked up a book on Fatima and I think that was a bit of a wake up call. I detected the urgency in her messages and I began to think about what she was asking of us all and asking of me, and that was when I began to try and say the rosary fairly faithfully. I think that was a preparation, looking back, for the real turning point which was going to Medjugorje when I was 19 in 1983. That was the moment when I felt Our Lady was inviting me to a deeper commitment to her, a giving of everything really to her which I wanted to do, which I completely wanted to do. Ever since then I have tried and the emphasis is on the word tried because I fail so often, but I've tried to live the messages that she gives us at Medjugorje. Really my life is hers as far as I'm concerned and I've tried to give her everything."
Ruth is a member of the Craig Lodge Community Dalmally.
"Our Lady for me is the only person I feel capable of going to when my own state of life or my own actions make me feel unworthy of contact with Our Lord. And she's the only person I feel will always be able to pick me up and cradle me in those scenarios and bring me back to Christ in a true motherly fashion."