Oh no, not another Mary message.
Actually, this is about you and me as much as it is about Mary. And what Church teaching about the Blessed Virgin Mary means for our own personal lives.
Okay (deep breath), what does she mean for ordinary believers like you
Well, have you ever wished you had a direct line to the Almighty who wasn’t, well, intimidatingly almighty? That’s Mary. As the Mother of Jesus, Who is God’s Second Person, and the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person, Mary listens, cares, and tells our needs and pains to God as only a mother can.
If one feels that God stirs a bit too much fear of the Lord, turn to His Blessed Mother and whisper, whimper and sigh how hard it is to be as loving, righteous, and faithful as her Son. Then let her remind you not only of her understanding, compassionate ways, but even better, the same loving, wise gaze from the Blessed Trinity.
Take it from Fr. Timoteo Ofrasio at the Loyola School of Theology in Ateneo. In his homily at Latin Mass at Christ the King Church Greenmeadows last Saturday morning, the professor of systematic theology points out that being family isn’t a monopoly of humanity, but indeed the paramount attribute of divinity:
“Christianity is a religion that has at its core a family relationship, between Father and Son, which, through their great love for one another, produces a Third Person, the Spirit. And, in their relationship with humanity, the Triune God has included a Woman, Mary of Nazareth.”
In his sermon Fr. Tim cited seminal insights from Pope Saint John Paul II’s 1987 encyclical “Redemptoris Mater,” which the Polish pontiff explained was “my reflection on the role of Mary in the mystery of Christ and on her active and exemplary presence in the life of the Church.”
Mary the mold for Homo sanctus
Bringing this message to our lives and times, the Blessed Virgin, through the Immaculate Conception and her life of holiness, became not just man’s direct link to God as His Mother. She was (is in fact) also the first of the new humankind imbued with the Holy Spirit and embraced by the Father as His children and the Son as His brethren.
Expounds St. John Paul, quoted by Fr. Tim: “In the mystery of Christ she is present even ‘before the creation of the world,’ as the one whom the Father ‘has chosen’ as Mother of his Son in the Incarnation.” Hence, explained Fr. Tim, “the Catholic Church recognizes in Mary the highest achievement of all the saints, teaching that she is ‘redeemed in a more sublime manner’ than all others.”
In our tech-age language, one might say God made Mary the template or mold for humanity liberated from the ills of this world in her Immaculate Conception. So Monday marks the day our species first achieved heavenly perfection, a milestone immensely greater than the first living organism and the first spark of human intelligence and will.
In the Immaculate Conception, Homo sapiens took the first step toward Homo sanctus.
As evolution goes, the leap of one individual creature to a new form opens the door for others to follow. But rather than mutation and replication, we can all become like Mary not by any special genes, but the indwelling of the Spirit, offered to every soul.
The holy is in the everyday
There’s more in Mary to inspire and encourage. Those wishing to live good lives would be doubly driven also because she achieved the pinnacle of holiness by living the most ordinary life, at least by outward appearances. Hence, we unmiraculous mortals could very well do the same.
Scripture tells of no supernatural feats by the Blessed Virgin, who lived simply as a mother and a spouse, caring for her Son, and accompanying Him in life and death.
That is not to say, however, that being holy is easy. Indeed, what Mary did to merit the highest honor accorded to a creature is nothing less than the greatest acts of faith, hope and love.
“Mary’s faith in the promise of God was an abandonment of her own will and her own interest,” explained Fr. Tim. Moreover, her belief in Yahweh and assent to His will in the Annunciation, Jesus’ birth in the manger, and the flight to Egypt obviously came minus her Son’s preaching, miracles and rising, on which all other believers ground our faith.
As for hope and love, Mary’s motherly love is the closest any creature came to the Father’s love for the Son. Also unmatched on earth is her anguish over His crucifixion. “Because she herself was without sin,” Fr. Tim explains, “she was able to enter into the sacrifice of Calvary in a deeper way than sinners can comprehend, for she understood what it meant for the innocent victim to suffer for the sake of others’ sins.” And in the depths of that harrowing agony, she still believed and hoped in God.
Thus, no miracles, but perfect faith, hope and love. “This faith,” said Fr. Tim, “gives consolations in the midst of tribulation and trial, as experienced by Mary in the daily travails of life.”
Next time things are tough and goodness impossible, think of Mary and the Immaculate Conception, and remember that sanctity lies in embracing and trusting God through it all. With Mary holding our hand and leading us to our Father, her Son, and Their Spirit.