Blessed Virgin Mary

Readings for Thursday of the Fourth Week in Advent: 1 Samuel 1:24-28; 1 Samuel 2:1, 4-8; Luke 46-56

" . . . he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts . . . " Luke 1:51

Today we hear the beautiful words of Mary's Magnificat, spoken when she visited Elizabeth after the Annunciation.  So much can--and has--been written over the centuries about Mary's prayerful proclamation.  For some reason, as a I read and reflected on the Magnificat this morning, her statement about God scattering the proud "in the imagination of their hearts" stood out to me more than it has in the past.

As Christians, most of us realize that pride is a capital sin; that it can cut us off from divine truth; and that it is the opposite of humility--the disposition of heart God call us all to have.  Mary's words certainly encapsulate all of these realities.  But pride can manifest itself in many ways, including despair.  For when we despair, we fail to trust in God and His promises, pridefully losing hope in our personal salvation from God.  (CCC ¶ 2091)  And sadly, for some, these feelings of despair can become more focused or exacerbated during this time of year; the struggles of everyday life reminding us that things aren't quite what they should be.

As Mary tells us, however, this prideful despair reigns only in the "imagination of our hearts," having no basis in reality.  Although our problems may be real, they should never cause us to despair and lose hope, for God fills "the hungry--[us]--with good things."  More importantly, "neither death, or life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."  (Romans 8:38-39)  So as Advent comes to a close, cling to this promise and never despair.  And with Mary, proclaim "my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!"

God love you.

Readings for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Genesis 3:9-15, 20; Psalm 98; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12; Luke 1:26-38

"Be it done unto me according to thy word."  Luke 1:38

Without those words from Mary, God's plan to redeem mankind from the slavery of sin could not have commenced.  Today the Church's celebrates Mary's Immaculate Conception--her preservation from the stain of original sin--and in so doing, also celebrates her free consent to bear the Son of God in her womb and to give birth to the Savior of the world.  For Mary's fiat is the perfect model of obedience to God's will and reveals to us what true freedom really is.

If you've read this blog at all, you probably know my love for Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen (that's his picture at the top of the page).  For this special day, I thought I would leave you with some quotes from his wonderful book on Mary called "The World's First Love."  Any words of my own would pale in comparison to what he has written.   I've taken several different quotes and put them all together below.

"The purest liberty is that which is given, not that which is taken.  God's way with man is not dictatorship, but cooperation.  If He would redeem humanity, it would be with human consent and not against it.  God could destroy evil, but only at the cost of human freedom, and that would be too high a price to pay for the destruction of dictatorship on earth--to have a dictator in Heaven.  Before remaking humanity, God willed to consult with humanity, so that there would be no destruction of human dignity; the particular person whom He consulted was a woman.  As from the first Adam came the first Even, so now, in the rebirth of man's dignity, the new Adam will come from the new Eve.  And in Mary's free consent we have the only human nature that we ever born in perfect liberty.  When, therefore, Mary had heard how this was to take place, she uttered the words that are the greatest pledge of liberty and the greatest charter of freedom the world has ever heard: 'Be it done unto me according to thy word.'  Teach us then [O Mary], that there is no freedom except in doing, out of love, what thou didst do in the Annunciation, namely, saying Yes to what Jesus asks."

God love you.