What is it about Mary, the Mother of Jesus that most impresses you? What aspect or virtue of Mary is most outstanding? What is Mary all about?
To me, the most wonderful quality I see in Mary is the pure and selfless love for God that pervades her whole being. Mary’s life expresses the most profound and perfect love a creature can have for its Creator. Being full of grace, as declared by God through the angel Gabriel (see Luke 1:18), Mary is truly aware of her identity as a child of God, her life being rooted in His love.
There are two aspects of Mary’s love for God that I most identify with in my own spirituality. When I envision Mary, I see her with hands together and her eyes raised up to heaven. She is completely focused on God in prayer, allowing herself to be in full communion with God and His will for her. I also see Mary holding her Son Jesus in her arms, gazing in his eyes. She is communicating the deepest of love, a love that is willing to do anything for the other. Mary’s life is both completely contemplative and completely conquering.
We can look to Mary as the perfect model of the Church. She is the most perfect follower of Christ; her holiness exceeds that of any other creature and she gives holiness to the Church. In Mary, the Church is all holy. Mary always seeks God’s will and surrenders her whole being to His will, out of love. Mary persevered with a deep trust in God’s providential care, believing that “nothing will be impossible for God”, as the angel Gabriel told her (see Luke 1:37).
Jesus designated Mary to be the Mother of us all. She is the spiritual Mother of the Church and therefore each child of God belongs to her. All of the saints turned to Mary in order to get closer to Jesus. Mary became their most intimate teacher in learning the ways of the love of Jesus Christ. Each of us, as a little child, can confidently make this plea to Mary: Enable me to imitate the life of prayer, obedience, purity, sacrifice and simplicity that you shared with your Son, Our Brother and Lord.
None of us should be afraid of coming to confide in Mary as her little, helpless child. Sometimes, we may find it a bit more difficult to relate to Christ, since, even though he is truly man, he is also truly God. Mary was fully human. Nevertheless, she fully cooperated with God’s grace to become the Christian model of holiness. Won’t Mary always lead us closer to her Son? Her mission is precisely to help us become more like her Son, so that we can be with him in the eternal splendor of heaven.
Mary helps us center our lives on Christ instead of on ourselves. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “The beatitude (happiness) we are promised confronts us with decisive moral choices. It teaches us that true happiness is not found in riches or well-being, in human fame or power, or in any human achievement – however beneficial it may be- but in God alone, the source of every good and of all love”.(#1723) Living for ourselves is what makes us miserable. Living for others, out of love for God is what makes us truly happy. Look at Mary; she is the happiest of all because Mary is all about her Son.
I invite you to love Mary as your own Blessed Mother. This love implies a devotion to and desire for God as our supreme good and Mary can help us to truly live this love. Since God is love and Mary is all about God, Mary is all about love. Growing in your devotion to Our Blessed Mother will enable you to grow in love for Christ.
Real love entails a profound attachment or devotion to another person, which is expressed in concrete acts. In order to show her our love, we can give our Blessed Mother gifts, by making acts of charity to others for example. Recognizing that it is awkward for mothers to receive presents because it is in their nature to make and to give gifts, we can be confident that our Holy Mother gives gifts back, whether they are physical, mental, or spiritual favors. Let us offer her our best effort to imitate her Son, making creative acts of charity (both seen and hidden) and converse with her in prayer to seek help, sure of her care for us.
What better gift could we possibly offer Our Lord than to grow in our love? Since Jesus gave us Mary to be our Mother (see John 19:26-27), we should respond to this offer of love by taking Our Blessed Mother’s hand so that she can guide us in the ways of love. As we prepare our hearts to be more compassionate like Christ’s Sacred Heart, let this be our prayer of petition:
Lord, grant me through Mary’s intercession, the pure and selfless love that consists in doing good to everyone.
Michael Yaremko, LC studies for the priesthood with the Legionaries of Christ in New York.
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