W hy all this emphasis on the Mother of God in the religious formation of a child? It seems only right in a simple comparison of the child’s physical life and his spiritual life. A child’s first knowledge of the physical world comes from his mother… Logically, a soul’s spiritual life also begins with a mother, the Mother of God.


“TO JESUS THROUGH MARY.” These words of the great Marian saint, Louis de Montfort, have been heard many times; but how often have parents realized that these four words contain the formula for the often difficult task of guiding their children in the sanctification of their souls and the ultimate attainment of the Beatific Vision.

That’s quite an order! Sometimes we parents shudder when we think of the awesome responsibility we have of bringing our children to God. How can we do it—especially now in a world that seems steeped in secularism, materialism, and sin. But in the midst of all this come loud and clear the words of St. Louis, “To Jesus through Mary.”

When can we begin to teach our children, and how can it be done? In studying the lives of the saints, we find many examples that teach us that the religious education of our children begins before we hold the baby in our arms.

The Curé of Ars, St. John Mary Vianney, was consecrated to the Mother of God by his mother before he was born. This saint once said, “The love of the Mother of God is my oldest love. I loved her before I knew her.’

The Gospel tells us that Mary was instrumental in the sanctification of St. John the Baptist before his birth. For it was Mary, carrying the Savior of the world in her womb, who came to visit Elizabeth, also heavy with child; and Elizabeth’s infant “leaped for joy.”

Imitating the example of these saintly mothers, expectant mothers should consecrate their unborn babies to Jesus through Mary. This consecration should be renewed often, especially during the frequent reception of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. In this way, the child belongs in a very special way to Our Lady from the first moment of his existence.

Why all this emphasis on the Mother of God in the religious formation of a child? It seems only right in a simple comparison of the child’s physical life and his spiritual life. A child’s first knowledge of the physical world comes from his mother. Before birth—and after— a mother means love, warmth, security, and nourishment to the child. Logically, a soul’s spiritual life also begins with a mother, the Mother of God.

As a child begins to know the love and warmth of the Blessed Mother, he cannot help but grow in the love of God. St. Louis tells us that Mary has received a special office and power over our souls in order to nourish them and give them growth in God.

After the baby is born and is made a child of God through Baptism, the parents should renew the consecration by carrying the infant to Our Lady’s altar or shrine. This may be done immediately after Baptism or on some feast of Our Lady. The mother and father should dedicate the little one to Mary immaculate, begging her to accept the child as her own property so that he may ever enjoy Mary’s special maternal protection through life and at the hour of death.

St. Maximilian Kolbe was introduced early to his heavenly Mother by his earthly mother. And it was this love of the Immaculata infused deep into his boyish heart that helped him to scale enormous heights in the spiritual life

It was this love of the Immaculata infused deep into his boyish heart that helped him to scale enormous heights in the spiritual life and to become a martyr and great saint. In the Kolbe home was an altar of Our Lady of Czestochowa where an oil lamp was lighted every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. It was at this home shrine that young Raymond Kolbe spent many hours in prayer.

For those families fortunate enough to have their own home with a yard, an outdoor statue of Our Lady could be put in a place of honor. Here, even toddlers love to bring flowers to Our Lady and at times even interrupt their play to run over and give Mary a big hug.

We can take an example from the Kolbe home and have an altar in our own homes where an image of the Mother of God is enshrined. Very early in life the child will delight in gathering flowers (even if they are mostly dandelions!) for the Blessed Mother’s altar.

For those families fortunate enough to have their own home with a yard, an outdoor statue of Our Lady could be put in a place of honor. Here, even toddlers love to bring flowers to Our Lady and at times even interrupt their play to run over and give Mary a big hug.

A home where Mary reigns as Queen has Jesus as its King. An image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus should be enthroned in a place of honor. Thus the child can feel the love and peace of Jesus and Mary from his earliest days. Father Mateo, Apostle of the Sacred Hearts, has told us, “Her arms lead us to Jesus; her Heart gives us the Heart of her Son.”

As soon as the baby can see, the parents should take him to these images of Jesus and Mary and say often, “Hello Jesus, hello Mary.” These two most blessed names should be among the first and familiar words spoken to and by the child. Little ones love this simple introduction to a life of prayer.

The various feast days of the liturgical year offer many opportunities to bring the growing child close to Jesus through Mary. At Christmas, every home should have a manger scene where the beautiful story of the Nativity can be told to the child.

For Valentine’s day, the older child can he helped to make homemade Valentines using construction paper and pictures of Jesus and Mary from old Christmas cards. (Grandparents will especially appreciate similar religious cards made for birthdays or other happy occasions.)

A good project for Lent is to make extra little visits to church with the child. Point out images of Jesus and Mary. (This may be a problem in some of the newer “empty” churches!) Show him the Stations of the Cross. Without going into details of the passion, explain—according to his level of understanding—how close Mary was with Jesus. These visits to church will surely awaken love for the hidden Eucharistic Lord who dwells within.

Mary’s month of May is celebrated most fittingly with the recitation of the family Rosary. Early in life the child learns the spirit of family prayer, and even the little ones love having their very own rosary.

Early in life the child learns the spirit of family prayer, and even the little ones love having their very own rosary.
In a home where daily family Rosary is said, there is no problem of having to teach prayers to children; through repetition, children as young as three and four can say the “Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.”

Another custom that enhances family prayer is the recitation of the Angelus after grace at the evening meal when the family is traditionally together. Here again, frequent praying of the Angelus makes it a dear and familiar way of honoring Our Lady.

A family May crowning is a joyful experience. Children enjoy marching in procession around the house singing a hymn to Mary prior to the solemn moment of crowning. However, if there are several little ones, each may have to take his or her turn in placing the crown to avoid hurt feelings.

On September 8, a birthday party in honor of Mary can be lots of fun—and spiritually worthwhile. All that’s needed is a cake (icing can be colored blue with food coloring) and ice cream. A candle and perhaps a small plastic statue of the Blessed Mother in the center of the cake makes it her very own! A good time to have the “party” is after the evening meal when the whole family can sing “Happy Birthday” to Mary.

All through the year, children enjoy readings from the many little books written especially for them about Jesus and Mary. But here—as in all other aspects of religious instruction—children learn best by example. They are quick to observe the type of material their parents read. The little ones recognize the pictures of Jesus and Mary on “mommy and daddy’s” magazines.

Example is also the best teacher for the time when the children will eventually be wearing their own scapulars. They notice when mother and father wear the brown scapular, and thus they look forward to the day when they too will be able to wear this special garment which shows that they belong in a very special way to Mary.

With a little imagination, any mother can adapt her own particular situation to teaching her children early in life to love the Blessed Mother. Surely Our Lady will help us in our humble efforts to bring our boys and girls closer to her beloved Son through her.

Let our encouragement be the words of St. Maximilian: “Do not be afraid to love the Immaculata too much because we could never equal the love that Jesus has for her, and His imitation is our sanctification. To approach the Immaculata is the easiest way to get near to God.”

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Dolores is freelance writer contributing to various Catholic publications in the 1960's-1970's. But she had written numerous articles for Immaculata Magazine when this was edited by the late Bro. Francis Mary Kalvelage.

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