3 C H A L L E N G E S O F T H E
M I R A C U L O U S M E D A L
F R . R O B E R T M A L O N E Y, C . M .
Today many are rereading the Miraculous Medal
with a focus on Mary as Mother of the Poor. While
the medal’s message is relevant for all, it is
especially so for those who are marginalized.
In this light, how can devotion to the Miraculous
Medal take on new meaning in today’s world?
For one thing, Marian devotion occupies an
enormous place in the religious culture of tens of
millions of people: Latin Americans, Filipinos,
Vietnamese and many other groups.
P H O T O : C E L E B R AT I N G T H E F E A S T O F T H E M I R A C U L O U S M E D A L , G E R M A N T O W N P H I L A D E L P H I A ( C M E A S T. O R G )
The most obvious challenge of the medal is to
emulate Mary, the first, the pre-eminent disciple. I
would suggest that the medal challenges its millions
of wearers to have, like Mary, three characteristics:
To be faithful listeners to God’s word. The Gospels
present Mary as the model for all believers. Beyond
all others, she knew how to “listen to the word of
God and act upon it” (Lk 8:21). On the deepest level,
those who wear the medal are making a statement:
I commit myself to live like Mary and to listen
attentively each day to what God is saying to me.
To be faith-filled pray-ers. In a frantically busy,
seemingly self-sufficient world, quiet prayer is
extremely important. The poet Tennyson wrote,
“More things are wrought by prayer than this world
dreams of.” The message that the Miraculous Medal
shouts out to the world is this: prayer is essential;
those who ask, receive; those who seek, ﬁnd; to
those who knock, the door is opened.
To live in solidarity with the poor. Mary lives in solidarity
with the poor of Israel. In fact, she is their spokesperson in
the Gospels. She cries out in gratitude to God for his
many gifts: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.
My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” And she recognizes
that God can turn the world upside down: “He casts down
the mighty from their thrones and lifts up the lowly”
(Lk 1:46, 52).
In 1830, Mary, through Catherine Labouré, called
young people to stand in solidarity with society’s
poorest. This message is all the more relevant
today when the church proclaims Mary as
Mother of the Poor.
Catherine Labouré was a precursor.
The medal that flowed from her visions gave popular
expression and powerful impetus to the dogma of the
Immaculate Conception, which Pius IX proclaimed two
decades later in 1854.
Surely without Catherine, Christians throughout the
world would never have prayed so often,
“O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have
recourse to thee.”
The Miraculous Medal: Contemporary Catholics on
Traditional Devotions by Robert P. Maloney, C.M.
for America Magazine