As Catholics around the world celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I thought that we might enjoy reading a piece that Jennifer Hartline wrote last year about this time about our Blessed Mother at her blog My Chocolate Heart. I totally agree with her, and appreciate the loving way that she speaks of our dear Mother Mary.
One of my favorite things about being Catholic (there are many) is enjoying a rich and blessed friendship with Mary. This time of year that friendship is particularly sweet. Contemplating the endless ways Mary leads my heart to Jesus is in itself a feast for the mind and soul.
Today, though, I was thinking how strange it is that Mary is the source of so much contention and strife between Catholics and Protestants. How is it that arguably the most faithful, obedient, trusting and loving follower of Christ ever can be such a lightening rod of controversy? What Christian wouldn't want to follow her example?
Can any of us say we would have the faith and courage to do what she did?
She obeyed at the risk of her own life. Joseph had the legal right to have her stoned to death and she knew it. It's not as though Gabriel told her, "Don't worry about Joseph's reaction. I'm going to explain everything to him." Her instinct to obey the Lord was stronger than any instinct for self-preservation. From the word "Go" she was only interested in doing God's will completely. The cost did not matter.
Later, she did something much, much harder than risking her own life. She witnessed her son's execution. She did it without losing her faith, without ever breaking trust with God.
Now, I'm not a physically imposing woman. Okay, I'm a total wimp. I probably couldn't punch my way out of a paper bag. But I assure you, if you threaten one of my children, I'll take you out with my bare hands. Period. Now you've made Mama Bear angry, and you're in trouble.
But Mary, so full of grace, walked every inch of the road to Calvary with Jesus and stood at the foot of His cross. She listened to the cursing, hateful, vile wickedness being spewed at Jesus from his murderers (that would be me), and never intervened to stop it. Can you even imagine that? As a mother, could you watch and do nothing while someone brutally killed your child even if you knew it would save someone else? (Someone who didn't deserve it!)
She quietly restrained herself and trusted God to accomplish His plan. She squelched the mother's instinct to protect her child, the urge to trample those who hurt her baby out of perfect obedience, humility and TRUST. She knew God, knew He was faithful and knew she wanted to cooperate with His will.
If that's not a perfect example of loving and serving God with all your heart, soul,
and strength, then I don't know what is.
How amazingly wonderful it is to have such a woman for a friend...a blessed mother...the Blessed Mother. Gentle woman, tower of strength, beacon of faith, humble servant...O, highly favored daughter!
Now I pray that God will enable me to grow in grace and follow her example...
I am the handmaid of the Lord...Let it be done to me according to your word."