Mary leads by example
The message contained in Mary's "Yes," celebrated on March 25th, is larger, more inclusive, more universal than merely recalling a young girl who lived a long time ago. The universal message she gave by her response tells of an attitude, a readiness to accept God's call, for her to become the Mother of God. By the submission of her will to God's, she accepted the very Son of God into her womb; a decision from which springs all the religions festivals of the Church Year celebrating the coming of Christ, God's anointed, by whose death we have been redeemed.
Every woman, man and child is asked by their lives to respond with "Yes" to new life in many shapes and forms. New life begins afresh when we choose to love by raising our thoughts to tell God we love him, by our good actions toward others, by resisting temptations to indulge in self love, by attending Mass through which God renews his eternal covenant, by receiving God's Son into our lives in Holy Communion. Everyone who says "Yes" to God's love acts as his good handmaids, servants and useful instruments who increase in merit as did Mary, through whom the author of life was brought into the world. The life of each person, born or yet to be born, is intended to play a unique role in God's creation offering praise to Him. How misinformed and misdirected it is through abortion and contraception to say, "No thank you, God, I don't want your gift."
As Mary's heart and mind was open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit announced through the angel, we are invited to open ourselves to God in our daily life as did Mary. God's asks that we imitate Mary's attitude of prayer and readiness to hear God's call, and to respond with "Yes" as she did. We must put on Mary's attitude of heart and mind. It is through a heart and mind open to his voice of love that we will better understand His desire to live among us, to be one like us, and teach us about the kingdom available for everyone who acts out of love for Him.
While one cannot be what Mary is in her dignity as the Mother of God, we must strive to be like her in her merits. Because of her virtue, holiness, faith, purity and obedience, she complied with the terms by which the Father has promised heaven to everyone.
Mary tells of her need for God's grace - the same available to everyone. "My soul magnifies the Lord, for He has exalted the humble, and has filled the hungry with good things. His mercy extends from generation to generation to those that fear him." (Luke 1:46-53)
How we Increase in God's Life (Grace)
Although sinless, as was Mary, we can increase in God's love through valid the reception of the sacraments and gain merit as we assist in insuring our neighbor's well-being. Our selfless acts out of love for Him and our neighbor, strengthen our wills to cooperate with His graces, to resist temptations which oppose His love, and regain His love if we should fall due to weakness.
The Sacraments are means by which we increase in grace (the very life of
Baptism – Removes Original Sin, we become a child of God and an heir of heaven.
Confirmation – We are strengthened to understand our relationship to God more deeply and build up the body of Christ on earth
through prayers and good actions.
Reconciliation (Penance) – By which we return to God’s friendship. We express sorrow for wrongs done, promise not to repeat,
and in reparation complete an appropriate action or prayer.
Holy Eucharist - We receive the actual the actual Body and Blood of Christ. God dwells in us.
Anointing the Sick - Provides strength in times of emotional or physical need.
Matrimony - Strengthens the husband's and wife's relationships to fulfill their marital duties.
Holy Orders (Religious State) - Sets a person aside to act as a special channel of God's grace.
The Corporal Works of Mercy are acts which build up the body of Christ.
۰ I must feed the hungry.
۰ I must give drink to the thirsty.
۰ I must clothe the naked.
۰ I must shelter the homeless.
۰ I must visit the sick.
۰ I must visit the imprisoned.
۰ I must bury the dead
The Spiritual Works of Mercy are acts which build up my neighbor’s spiritual well-being.
۰ I must counsel the doubtful.
۰ I must instruct the ignorant.
۰ I must admonish the sinner.
۰ I must comfort the sorrowful.
۰ I must forgive injuries.
۰ I must bear wrongs patiently.
۰ I must pray for the living and the dead.
To perform the Corporal and Spiritual Works of mercy means we become stronger in virtue (habits of acting held in perfection by Mary). When we accept God's grace and desire to imitate her virtues, we become more pleasing to God who asked her to be the spouse of the Holy Spirit through whom His Son would into the world.
We are Mary's spiritual children under her loving protection and care. As we increase in virtue, we become more like Mary, imitate Mary, more open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and pleasing to God as good and faithful hand-maids and servants.
Consider the Opportunities . . .
. . . those little tests which present themselves daily: A simple exchange of words . . . greetings . . . or positive comments with someone we meet, even our travel to and from work allows for numerous unanticipated courtesies. If the radio is used to provide filler news or music . . . try turning it off and instead have a conversation with God, the Holy Spirit, Mary, your guardian angel, a saint . . . Review with them your inner desires, thoughts, . . . ask for their guidance, sing or hum a song to them, talk to them. After all, they are family.
Should we expect to receive an immediate response to our prayer, request or heart's desire? Should we expect to hear a voice or see a vision? This surely could happen, but for some of us, it may be difficult to recognize His voice or message above the car's radio playing so loudly the car seems to bounce along the highway. God will not remove our ear buds to get our attention. We must take a step to minimize our businesses, distractions and noisy surroundings in order to hear and respond. He will speak to us, but in His own time and in a manner of His own choosing, which is really the best for us. We should not set conditions by telling Him how, when, and in what way we expect Him to respond to us.
Time should be set aside, especially at the beginning of the day, to tell Him how we love, depend upon, and seek to be guided as His instrument. Ask that merits earned that day be directed toward particular intentions you identify, and express the desire to show Him how much you love Him in everything you do. Be sure to include any special requests for yourself and for others. At the end of the day, reflect upon how you have returned God's love to him through how you acted in light of the day's events. Offer a prayer for strength to do better those things in which you were the weakest. Rededicate yourself to continue your good actions out of love for God.
Does this please God? You bet! Have we opened ourselves to God? Are we acting as good servants and handmaids of the Lord, as did Mary? Is Mary pleased? Is God pleased? Of course!
Thus, we share in Christ's infinite meritorious graces earned for us by His sacrificial death on the cross. For Him to endure this shameful death demonstrates to us just how much God loves us and earned complete reparation for the grievous sin of pride committed by our first parents which has tainted the human race.
Why did God the Father do all this for us? The answer is because He loves us so much. How can we express our gratitude for His gift of the opportunity to gain eternal life?
The answer is simply to love Him and each other in return out of love for Him. Many opportunities present themselves daily for us to imitate Mary's openness to the Holy Spirit. He asks everyone to respond since we are all servants, and handmaids of the Lord and he came to save everyone. The means the Holy Spirit uses to enable us to share in His very life are the Sacraments. The steps we take to build up the Body of Christ on earth are the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy as Christ tells us in the Sermon on the Mount.
Make this direction of intention your daily prayer: My God, give me your grace, I offer you all the good I will do in this action and all the difficulty found in it; trusting in you and your abundant love. (St. Francis de Sales)
. . . Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us handmaids and servants of your Son, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
An Angel visits her
Humanity of Mary's Son
Divinity of Mary's Son
Mary approaches us as a loving mother