The UNITED KINGDOM
Christian names beginning with S
"To me praying to Mary is very important because I feel that her prayer helps me in many ways. Whenever I say it I feel like I'm being quided by her throughout the day. My friends may say to me 'Oh, what's the point of praying to Mary' and I always just share my experience that I feel that she guides me whenever I say her prayer.. I feel that she's not just a mother to Jesus, she's really motherly to me as well."
"I find that if I need comfort or understanding, I know that Mary is there because she's always looking after me the way she looked after Jesus, like she was there at the crucifixion. Also, the fact is that she was a wife to St Joseph and Joseph is a great saint of mine. So I feel that she understood her husband very well and she helps me to try to understand motherhood in women, when I'm talking to them."
"My conversion was through the Divine Mercy but it also highlighted the importance of saying the rosary and praying to our Holy Mary, Mother of God. Praying the rosary to the Holy Mary, Mother of God, is one of the most precious graces in life. And for me in my heart, each time I pray the rosary I am granted the graces. It might not be quickly, it might take some time, but she looks after me like she looks after everyone, and she fills my heart with love, kindness, and quells any anxiety I have when I pray the rosary. For this I am truly grateful to the Holy Mary, Mother of God, our holy mother, and she means everything to me, the Mother of Jesus, Jesus our Lord. Amen."
"It’s always Our Lady who’s inviting me, always Our Lady who’s attracting me, even when my mind doesn’t understand she has always been the one attracting me to goodness, attracting me to beauty, attracting me to the next step forwards."
Sarah de Nordwall is a bard - to learn more, visit her website.
"Mary for me is everything that's gentle and soft and loving and kind in the world. I think that's where I feel her the most, in everything that is feminine and beautiful and calm, and I think she really paves the way to prepare us for the love of God."
"Saint Alphonsus Rodríguez was a porter for 40 years and he never went beyond that but he just did it with good grace. He had the gift of holy conversation, people sought him out for spiritual advice and he was just so gracious to everybody he met, and he was very well known for that. I suppose because of that post, he never had any writings or teachings, but his life was such a witness that people just flocked to him. St Peter Clavier was the saint who went to him for spiritual advice. The reason why I admire him is because he had so many losses in his life, so many things went wrong and he was forced to do so many things that would be deemed not the best things to do … it was like one thing after another, but he never lost that grace and he never lost that joy and that faith in God, and he was able to transmit that to others. And he was canonized so I think he was victorious in the end!"
"For me, Mary brings great power and serenity that is not present as an energy in our world in any other way and I feel her energy is part of the expression of the flow of the love of God."
"Mary to me is the epitome of beauty. She represents everything that I would want to be and would aspire to be."
"Maybe sometimes when you look up at the sky and you don't see any stars, it's more because there's so much artificial light around and that when you go out into the countryside and you look up and you see the sky and there's just loads of stars there because there's nothing getting in the way. And maybe Christmas is about realising what the true stars are, what the signs God wants us to see and getting rid of the artificial light that stops us seeing that."
"Mary, Our Lady, is my great friend I owe more than anything to, and has done so much for me, I don't know how to thank or do anything back in return but I look to the future to one day bring something wonderful back. She's always in the presence of God; Mother of God, always in the presence of God."
"She protects us so much and she keeps us close to the heart of Jesus. I'd recommend praying a daily rosary if you can, give everything to Mary. There's a great consecration prayer by St Louis de Montfort, and if you say that consecration prayer every day, you're giving everything to her and she takes that seriously, our mother, and she will take care of us. And she makes the greatest saints, the greatest of heroes. She makes heroes and gave birth to the greatest of heroes, Jesus Christ."
"At the culmination and also at the beginning of my commitment to God, Our Lady was present. I think for a lot of religious, she is the example and the protector of our 'yes', because Our Lady gave her fiat to God and gave her yes to God. In a certain way, I think she looks on us and we look to her in the same way, that she protects our yes that we've given to God, and continues to guide us. I really see her as my mother and also my sister, that brings us to the fullness of our vocation."
Br Sean describes having been with JPII during his 12 years in Rome
"I think in total it was about 4 times that I could meet the Holy Father and the impression I got from John Paul II was of somebody who emitted real sanctity. I think when you saw him coming towards you, and when you went to greet him, although he didn't really say anything to us, he had that sense of holiness about him, and I think that was something that all of us had felt. A highpoint of my time in Rome (I'd lived in Rome for 12 years) was when John Paul II was dying and we could go to St Peter's Square and and pray, when we knew he was dying above in the Apostolic Palace. When it was announced in St Peter's Square to the people who were there that he had died, the Cardinal who had announced is said that when the father dies, the children come and pray, and that's what we really felt when we were there. And we wanted to go to the funeral; we went and visited his body when it was lying in state. And I and another brother managed to get to St Peter's for the funeral and there was a very special time and a really historic time, and occasions like that are occasions which imprint onto your memory for the rest of your life, because we were the generation of John Paul II and he was suddenly gone; and he'd formed us so much. Maybe not consciously that we'd known, but he'd formed the Church which we'd known and it was our sign of gratitude to him that we could be there and be present at his funeral."
Brother Sean is a member of The Spiritual Family the Work
"The first day I celebrated the Holy Mass was the Feast of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart. It’s that heart connected with Our Lord’s heart, that heart that loves us so much that it’s pierced, that heart that accompanies us each day of our lives as mother and as sister in the Church. The Blessed Mother, the example that she gives to us as a disciple, as a teacher, as a mother, as a friend, is an example of silence, of prayer, of reflection and of action; seeking to love the Lord, seeking to know him and seeking to bring him to others - that's the Blessed Mother for me."
"Our Lady, our Mother, is someone that I just turn to in times of sadness and despair, but also in times of joyfulness and thanksgiving, because she's there to guide and help, I guess like a real mother is."
"Our Lady is the Mother of God and so I don’t know how we can really hold God in our hearts without going through Our Lady first. First we must talk to her and give our lives to her, and then it seems that everything falls into place after that."
"Mary actually has a very active role in the Church and if you ask her to come and have an active role in your life, she will, and she is amazing at looking after you and looking after those things that you can't cope with. Offer it up to her, ask her for her guidance and intercession, and she will look after you and she will go above and beyond your expectation. She is such a wonderful mother to have - so if you haven't already, start praying to Mary because it is something that you are never going to regret. And even if you are unsure, just try it, because there is no harm in trying it - just try trusting her because she is an awesome mother."
Shannon also gave a response for the Totus2us podcast In Memory of Me
"For me spending time in front of Christ, the real presence of Christ, is a time for reflection and it doesn't matter where you are in your journey towards heaven, or where you are at any point in your life, Christ is always there and He remains the same and He is constant. And it's refreshing to come back and have that check-point with Him and just reaffirm what it is He has got in store for you. And to be in the presence and feel that complete love is awesome and it's an awesome gift to have."
"I like Mother Mary. It's like I pray to God and then I often pray to Mother Mary. I'm like 'Mother Mary, please look after your daughter. Please pray for me on my behalf.' And then she does it and then God answers my prayers."
"As a Jesuit, one of the things that we do is these spiritual exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola. In their fullness they're a 30 day silent retreat, but they can also be done in our daily lives, and there's a recurring prayer in these meditations that St Ignatius invites us to make. And it's to ask Mary to place us close to her son. And I think it's the most wonderful prayer, that we ask Mary to place us closer to her son. So often I find myself asking Mary to place me close to her son, to kind of watch Jesus as she watches him, or to serve him as she serves him, to love him as she loves him."
Father Simon Bishop SJ is a member of the British Province of the Jesuits.
"My key reflection on Our Lady is something that came to me in prayer two or three years ago. I had just an image of the person of Christ ahead of me, kind of the glow of Christ and I became aware of a hand on my shoulder. And as I thought about that hand in particular, I realised that it was Our Lady just stood behind me on a constant basis, reaching out to me, praying for me and encouraging me each day, each moment really, to take the next step forward towards Christ, towards the light."
Father Simon Penhaligon is a member of the Sion Community.
"Mary brings so much into our walk with Christ: she is a mother, she brings the femininity, she brings the softness, she's just incredible. I have really felt my whole walk with Jesus deepen through knowing her, through allowing her into my heart, through committing my life, my walk with God through Christ to be led by Mary."
"Our Lady's faith is just phenomenal and always when I reflect on her faith, it points me to God in a way because she just couldn't have done it on her own. She did it with such beauty and humility, and it just gives me encouragement as a woman in today's society to stay faithful and courageous for my faith."
"No one else was as close to Christ as Our Lady was: she loved him and she held him from being a little boy to his last breath. It's only through her example and looking to her that we can share those memories and share those moments with her. And she can reveal to us how to love Christ in a more beautiful way, and how to make Him happy and what will please Him, and how He can help us. And I think just by looking to her and asking for her help, because she's not far away, and she's not some distant person. She's our loving Mother."
"For me Mary signifies beautiful, gentle acceptance; an advocate that can't be beaten."
"It was such an inspiration how from early morning till late at night, he'd give himself for the benefit of the people."
Father Stefan Park is an Augustinian priest. He was prior at St Augustine's in Hammersmith, London, before begginning a sabbatical in July 2013.
"Mary for me is my hope. I would say she’s the strangth that I cling to when I’m weak, she’s naturally the first intercessor that I go to and, yeh, she’s my mother."
"Mary, the Mother of God, is a beautiful woman who needs no other thing said about her. What a wonderful, wonderful person!"
It was awesome to be at the final vigil at World Youth Day Madrid 2011 and see another 1.5 million young Catholics who'd chosen to be there too. It's beyond comprehension the organisation of it all and all those different people with their various lives, but we'd all decided that this was a priority for each of us. How wonderful it would have been to have spoken to everyone of them to find out exactly what their reasons for attending were and their journey with God up to that stage. So, yeh, it was marvellous"
"And finally, as Jesus falls under the weight of the cross, he catches the eye of his Blessed Mother, and Mel Gibson the director has him whisper to her, 'Behold, I make all things new.' It's a clever image. It shows us how Jesus is renewing all creation and renews the life of each one of us, through his faithfulness and love, calling us to do the same. So, yes, The Passion of the Christ is a violent film, and the Holy Week that approaches us soon is a dark time. But God loved the world so much that He sent His Son to be with us in this darkness, to carry it for our sake and to show that even there love is possible, the love of God. So the seed of eternal life that we've heard about in this Gospel today is planted in the soil of the Passion."
Father Stephen Wang is a priest of the Archdiocese of Westminster. Having taught philosophy at Allen Hall Seminary for several years, he begins as University chaplain at Newman House in the autumn (2013). He is the chaplain of Youth 2000 & writes the blog Bridges and Tangents.
"Hail Mary, the most divine mother, it is through you, Our Lady, that we have Jesus in our heart and the peace of love. You are our loving channel through prayer to Jesus."
"Even many, many years ago, at the beginning of this evolvement of my work into much more expressive work, I would stand back from those early paintings and think, even though I was in pain and was depressed a lot of the time, my work is not reflecting that. And now I realise what it is reflecting is that, even though it was a terrible tragedy, it didn't block the love that's in my heart. So I think that my work comes predominantly from prayer but it comes from the love in my heart, the colours, and, I mean, humbly I think they must as well have come from God because I literally, as I say, feel rendered hopeless and helpless at the beginning, and depend on God for direction. So, yes, I think ultimately love is the thing, the great thing."
"Because I've struggled very much all my life with trying to live the faith, I take great comfort from this attractive idea that comes to me that Our Lady will carry me to Jesus."
"First and foremost, Mary was a mother, and I think a mother's love is what the world needs more and more. That for me is what's so important about Mary. When I think about Mary, it's a mother's unconditional love, and fortitude in the face of good times, bad times. I think that's something we all need."
"Whenever I see a picture of Mary the word mother comes straight into my head and I feel like I'm at home somehow."
"Our Lady came to Fatima in Portugal in 1917 and gave some very profound instructions to the three children and they made very heroic sacrifices really. So I feel the little contribution I make is only minor compared to them."
"I can say so much about Mary in my life. I owe my faith to Mary. … Let Mary hold you, as she has me. Let her hold you and let her lead you, because she always leads you to her Son, the King, our dear Lord Jesus. Mary, I thank you. Amen."
Stuart is the creator and host of Island of Saints on Heart Gives unto Heart Radio.
"For me, Mary represents the new Eve. For me, when I look at her, I see her as the person who has won salvation for me in a sense because it is her yes that enabled God's plan to be worked out. And I look at her really as an icon of how to pray."
"Mary our Blessed Mother for me is everything, she’s my whole world: Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. We pray the rosary each day, with my mother and the rest of the family, for her help and her guidance especially with our youth and our elderly, and the poor, for everyone. Mary is there to put her arms around us, to help and guide us. Amen. Mary, pray for us. Amen."
"The thing that struck me from yesterday being here [at the reception of Our Lady of Fatima for the Consecration of the world] was how tiny Our Lady’s statue was in this vast area and the power that something so relatively small had on so many people in such a large environment. There was something in that which was a sense of the antithesis of the world that we see which is big and beautiful and bold, and yet it was small and beautiful and more powerful than anything else that was here."
"I’ve been praying to the Blessed Virgin Mary most of my life ... and I am doing a pilgrimage every year to Our Lady of Walsingham and I encourage a lot of other people to join me. When we are in desperate cases, we pray for everybody and do the petition and send it to Our Lady, our dearest mother of all, Mother of God, Jesus Christ. Amen."
"I think it's one of the blessings of our Carmelite heritage that we have Mary there. Whenever I've had difficulties in my relationship with God or when He has seemed rather far away, Mary has always been there. And I think it's one of the traditions that says 'Who ever went to Mary and came away disappointed?' All I can say is I can echo that myself throughout my life."
"Mary for me is our mother, our heavenly mother. She's also a protector. I find for me personally when you're in distress, when you're in the darkest, darkest hour, she's always there, guiding you and leading you back to Jesus her son, whom she loves very, very much."
"After WYD Rome I went off to uni and rebelled. At the time I felt I was asserting my independence and finding out who I was, and I think all that time I was just lost. I was very lucky in that I had family and friends who prayed a lot, and I'm eternally grateful to their prayers and at the time I'd have hated to admit that.
It just so happened that 6 or 7 years later, I went to work in a place where I had some Catholic colleagues. I was very objective about the experience and I said 'Well, OK, I don't practice but these people are good people.' As I worked with them, I just saw something in them that made me realise that they had something; a lot of people I knew were good people but these people had something else that made them see a value and a dignity in the human person that maybe other people didn't see. I slowly observed their behaviour and got to know them and became good friends and gradually that took me back into the Church. From there, I very suspiciously I suppose would go and sit at the back of the church. Then one day a friend of mine said 'Come on, Suze, come and say the rosary.' And I was like 'No, I haven't said the rosary in years.' She was like, 'Come on, come on.' So I went off to a church and prayed the rosary and I'd have to say that that probably was what brought me back. From then on I just felt that, if nothing else, I could maybe attempt to say the rosary. Slowly Our Lady worked her way back into my life. From there I guess I began going to the Sacraments, I went to confession, I started going to Mass regularly.
It's been years now since then and I've never looked back. I actually went to the more recent World Youth Day in Madrid a couple of years ago and it was really interesting revisiting that event after so many years of maybe being lost. The World Youth Day really is a great opportunity because you realise that all those times you think you are on your own, that common culture is against you, that society is against you, that you can't express what you believe for fear of being hailed an extremist or a conservative, that actually there are hundreds of thousands of other young people out there who share your faith and have a joy. Ultimately the Catholic faith is nothing to be ashamed of, it's nothing that restricts you, it's nothing that lays down any rules, it's simply showing you how to be happy."