On May 4, I will have the privilege to celebrate Mass at the Grotto in Lourdes, France, where the Virgin Mary was said to appear to St. Bernadette Soubirous in 1858.

It will be my first time in Lourdes, and I’m grateful for the invitation of the Order of Malta to join them on their yearly pilgrimage. And as I’ve been preparing for the Mass and for the Marian month of May, I find myself reflecting on the Blessed Mother’s role in salvation history and in our spiritual lives.

There is a simple line in the Gospel account of the wedding feast at Cana. It reads: “And the mother of Jesus was there.”

For me, this is the great truth: the Mother of Jesus was there. Not only at Cana, but from the beginning. Salvation history unfolds through her.

In the fullness of time, God sent his holy angel to Mary to announce the coming of Jesus. 

She was also there to present him as an infant in the Temple, and again to find him teaching in his “Father’s house.”

Mary helped Jesus to grow from a child to a man during the long, hidden years at Nazareth.

And Mary was there at Cana when he began his public ministry. She was the one who asked him to perform his first miracle.

She followed him in the crowds as he proclaimed the kingdom. And the mother of Jesus was there when her Son died, keeping her station at the foot of his cross.

Finally, Mary was there at the birth of the Church, praying with the apostles for the Holy Spirit to come down at Pentecost.

St. Pope John Paul II once said, “Where she is, her Son cannot fail to be.”

That was true in the days of Gospel. And it will always be true. Mary continues to be the maternal face of the Father’s mercy. In every age, in every place, and in every heart.

In the course of history, some have claimed to see apparitions of Our Lady, and the Church has recognized some of these private revelations, such as those at Lourdes.

Here in the Americas, we are already preparing to celebrate, in 2031, the 500th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego at Tepeyac, near Mexico City.

The Catechism says that these private revelations do not add to what God revealed in sending Jesus Christ into the world. Instead, these apparitions help us to live his Gospel “more fully” in a “certain period of history.”

When Mary comes, as she did at Lourdes and Tepeyac, she brings a message of hope and healing, telling us that God is with us until the end of ages, and he will never leave us.

At Lourdes, Mary chose to reveal herself to a humble girl from a poor family, who knew her prayers and went to church, but didn’t know how to read or write.

Mary appeared as a young woman, dressed in white, making the sign of the cross, with a rosary in her hand.

St. Bernadette said the Lady was too beautiful to describe.

When Bernadette asked who she was, the Lady smiled sweetly and said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Then she disappeared, still smiling.

In this simple way, Mary reminded us that she is the Immaculate One, the holy mother of God, who brings a new beginning to the human race, by the blessed fruit of her womb, Jesus.

The saints teach us, “To Jesus through Mary.” We go to Jesus through Mary because Jesus came to us through Mary.

Through Mary, we understand the truth that she is our mother, too, that we are God’s children, his sons and daughters, beloved by the Father who made us and knows our name.

Through Mary, we know that Jesus wants to be born in every heart, that he wants to make all things new, to heal what is broken, to wipe away all the tears, to free us from sorrow and death.

As a good mother, Mary teaches us the way to live as children of God. Her last words in the Gospels are in the story of Cana, when she tells the servants: “Do whatever he tells you.”

This is the way: to follow Jesus, to know him and love him; to listen to him, and to make him the model for our lives. To do whatever he tells us to do.

Pray for me and I will pray for you.

And in this Marian month of May, let us all deepen our love for our Blessed Mother.

Let’s pray the rosary with new devotion, with new love, with new desire to enter into its mysteries.