“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” In the eyes of the Church and in the souls of so many believers, the name Mary calls to mind so many splendid images of a special person who seems to always be available  to us, especially in moments of great need; of a kind woman who is always willing to walk the distance with us no matter how long the journey might be; of a gentle soul who prays for us unceasingly even when we don’t have the energy or the desire to pray for ourselves; of a humble mother who is always so willing to come to our aid no   matter what the circumstance might be. She simply wants to help us poor sinners, poor children of God, poor children of Mary. Mary’s name also invokes in us so many stories of how God uses her as an instrument to share the Good News of our salvation; to deliver us important signs and warnings when we drift too far away from God’s   presence; to offer us motherly advice at the crossroads of life or in moments of deep discernment; to give us a gentle correction when we choose the wrong rather than choose the right or when we do the bad rather than the good; to provide us with loving inspiration when we are afraid and unable to move forward and to  offer us help in moments of darkness, bleak situations or moments of dire need. The mere mention of Mary’s name brings strength to those who are weary, comfort to the sorrowing, hope to the despairing, faith to the unbelieving, something to brighten our day when everything else seems so heavy or everyone around us seems so gray. It brings to heart so many joyful memories that describe our awesome relationship with God, our awesome relationship with Mary, the Mother of God. Some immediate images that come to mind and heart are: Mother, Beloved, Immaculate, Blessed, Beautiful, Virgin, Star, Perfect, Holy, Pure, Vessel, Temple, Grace, Intercessor, Rose and the one that might help us during this season to more fully anticipate the gift we desire to more purely celebrate is joy. The Church calls Mary the “Cause of our Joy.”  What is the cause of your joy? Not what makes you happy for a brief moment but that which fills you with everlasting joy? For Mary, it is Jesus – God’s Love. “Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!”