Show Me How I Should Serve

By Sr. M. Jessica Swedzinski

Dear Mother Mary,

Let me pray the Visitation decade in your heart! Let me come into your world of service, into your awe of God’s promise, into your heart of love. Help me to visit today in your footsteps.

With Father Kentenich we pray:

We see you, Mother, hastening with the Savior to stay with Elizabeth and serve her. She rejoices and is filled with the Holy Spirit and feels her child sanctified in her womb. Let us, too, devote our strength and time in quiet total service to the work of salvation.[1]

After the Lord’s Prayer, as we slip the ten Hail Mary beads through our fingers, teach me to grasp more tenderly the Heavenly Father’s plan of visitation for my life here and now. Ten beads, ten thoughts!

1. Whom do you want me to serve? Mother, you went with haste to assist your elderly relative, as the Archangel’s words were still reverberating in your heart: that you should “rejoice,” that you are “full of grace,” that you would bear God’s own Son![2]

Others have followed your path of service!

Venerable Emilie Engel began in 1926 to serve a new community in the Church. It took all of her life’s energy to serve the Secular Institute of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary. She prayed and sacrificed for a family of saintly women to her life’s end, serving from a wheelchair while stricken with TB.

Vicki Thorn chose to serve those who were affected by abortion. Moved by one of her high school friend’s struggle with abortion’s aftermath, she founded a pioneering post-abortion reconciliation and healing program in the Catholic Church.

Mother, show me whom you want me to serve!

2. How can I serve today? Mother, you didn’t know all the key points of childbearing and upbringing, but you trusted God’s word to you.

Father Kentenich wrote: “Mother Thrice Admirable, let us always be your instruments, lovingly giving ourselves in your service today and forever. Use us as it pleases God, entirely for your Schoenstatt world.”[3]

Venerable Fulton Sheen nods to the importance of giving service in his remark: “The greatest inhumanity that can be ascribed to men is having an opportunity for doing good to others and doing nothing. The serious sin is not always one of commission, but omission.”[4]

Mother, show me how I can serve boldly.

3. When do you ask me to visit in your name? Mother, you did not hesitate. You went quickly, in haste, to help Elizabeth. There was nothing more important in your life than doing the will of God. Jesus will later proclaim: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”[5]

Father Kentenich was willing to visit a priest even if it took most of the day to walk there. He let himself be guided, moment by moment, by Divine Providence, carefully attuning himself to inspirations from the persons, places, events, items, problems, or joys that came his way.

To attune herself to God’s wishes, St. Mother Teresa never went through a day without her Adoration Hour. First things first!

Mother, in this “Hail Mary,” I beg you to name my time! Inspire me with a deed of loving service I can do.

4. Where should I serve others? You travelled, Mary, eighty miles from Nazareth in Galilee into the hill country of Judea. Zechariah’s house was in Ain-Karim (five miles west of Jerusalem)![6] Certainly, this was no walk down the block for you.

Mary, you were the pillar of security for the apostles to follow Jesus’ closing mandate: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”[7] But how can I serve everywhere?

Schoenstatt’s conviction of offering contributions to your capital of grace is how to help people in need, wherever they are located. Each offering to your heart, finds it way quickest to the heart of Jesus. The longest journey is often in my first step.

Mother, by taking your hand, I will dare to visit wherever you call me to serve others today.

5. Why should I bother with serving? Certainly, dear Mother, you might have had other plans for your day – for your life – when the Archangel appeared before you. What were your other wishes that you had to give up? In your motherly heart I will contemplate that every “yes” I give, will demand many a “no” from me.

Deacon John Pozzobon began a worldwide campaign with the MTA picture, visiting and encouraging families to pray the rosary. He let Mary repeat her visitation to families through him, walking over 87,000 miles in 35 years. Father Kentenich called Pozzobon’s Marian apostolate “a living demonstration of what Vincent Pallotti said with regard to Our Lady: ‘She is the great missionary; she will work miracles.’”[8] What was it that moved John Pozzobon to begin this work and to keep at it, year by year?

Why do I feel compelled to serve? What motivates me? “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”[9]

Mother, make me more aware of my heart’s desire to serve!

6. What happens when I tire in this visitation mission? Mother, when I am tired, frustrated, depressed, beaten down, forgetful, or running on zero energy – then let me taste your joys of heaven! Help me remember that I bring you and your Son to others.

Father Kentenich told others: “Mr. Pozzobon gives Our Lady the chance to be active. What does he do? He takes Our Lady wherever he possibly can and gives her the opportunity of doing the work… That is precisely what we have always wanted and emphasized.”[10]

Mother, let me soon see miracles as I strive to trust and serve to my utmost!

7. What if huge obstacles block my firm resolve? Mother, as you served Elizabeth and experienced with her the joys of motherhood, those around you were unaware of your awesome call to service in bearing God’s Son for the Redemption of God’s children – past, present and future. . . .Yet you bravely went your way, trusting God would take care to remove any obstacles.

Obstacles in St. Francis’s life included being kicked out of his family home, having to live on the streets, being stoned by those he had called his friends. The nobles of the land with whom he used to talk now shunned him, acting as if he never existed. Yet Francis was called “Little Brother Ever-Glad.” He rejoiced in the cross of Jesus and became the first person gifted with the stigmata of Christ. His experience taught him: “A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.”[11]

Father Kentenich often prayed in the fire of controversy: Let’s see how the Blessed Mother will get us out of this one.

Mother, give me a share in this attitude. Increase my daring love of service today.

8. Open my heart to receive the gifts you bestow during my visitations. Your visitation brought miracles: the first adoration given to your unborn Christ Child by Elizabeth and John; the sanctification of the unborn John the Baptist in his mother’s womb; your Magnificat prayer; and the words of Elizabeth’s greeting that prophesied your role in God’s plan into eternity: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”[12]

Your title “Cause of Our Joy” began in antiquity.[13] Is it your oldest honor? You are the cause of my joy because you fulfilled God’s will in selfless service, giving Jesus to me and to all of us!

St. Gianna Beretta Molla (1922–1962), is the first canonized woman physician and professional who was also a working mom. She wrote: “The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all that he, in his goodness, sends to us day after day.”[14]

Mary, Cause of Our Joy, intercede miracles of joy for all I have promised to pray for and for all who need my prayers.

9. Grant me time to reflect and to ponder gratefully the grace-filled moments of awe in my day today. “Gratitude is the best petition,” was a favorite advice from Father Kentenich. Mary, all who love you say that there is no way to describe your love!

Let me thank you for visiting me and let me never forget your visitation!

10. At the death of Pope John Paul II, Fr. Johann Roten, SM, Director of the International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio, wrote: “Every great man has in his life a unique source of inspiration, a spiritual center from which he draws his strength, and a constant point of reference from which he takes direction as well as corrections… Pope John Paul II’s person and life was fashioned and inspired by a life giving spring… It was plainly visible on his coat of arms as Pope, and held in the short and challenging motto, “Totus Tuus/Totally Yours”… the abbreviated version of the Marian consecration according to de Montfort …She (Mary) was the star of this Pope, and he was pope for Mary.”[15]

Be a star of serving love also for me, Mary. Amen.

[1] For the Rosary of God’s Instruments, see Father Joseph Kentenich, Heavenwards, trans. Jonathan Niehaus, American edition 4.0 (Waukesha, Wisconsin: Schoenstatt Fathers, 1992), pp. 91–100.

[2] Luke 1:28–33.

[3] For the full text of this prayer, see Heavenwards.

[4] See the text for April 20 in The Wisdom of Fulton Sheen: 365 Days of Inspiration (North Palm Beach, Fl.: Blue Sparrow, 2020).

[5] Matthew 7:21.

[6] The Navarre Bible (Strongsville, Ohio: Scepter, 2009), 245.

[7] Mark 16:15.

[8] Esteban José Uriburu, A Hero Today Not Tomorrow: The Life of John Louis Pozzobon, a Poor Pilgrim and Deacon, 1904–1985 (Waukesha, Wis.: Schoenstatt Publications, 1991), 27.

[9] Mark 10:45.

[10] Quoted in Uriburu, A Hero Today, 27.


[12] Luke 1:42.

[13] Saint Irenaeus called Mary “the causa salutis,” the cause of our salvation.  The Litany of Loretto includes the title “Cause of Our Joy.” See

[14] See “Reflections.”

[15] Johann G. Roten, S.M., “Pope John Paul II: A Pope for Mary,”