Mary, Our Model of Inner Life

“Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

What does this very simple, yet inexplicably powerful verse mean? Why does it resonate so deeply with so many of us? It is a revelation in Mary’s role in our prayer life. Mary’s approach to prayer demonstrates a freshness of spirit and a desire for prayer as a definitive aspect of the Christian life. She ponders, not with worry, not in consideration of how to punish Jesus for his disappearance or in anxiety at the crowd of strangers invading the makeshift nursery of her precious son, but with wonder. She ponders trustingly and allows the experiences to draw her into deeper communion with God within her.

After amazing everyone around them with the story of the child just born in a manger, the shepherds return and proceed to make a big deal of Mary’s son. One can safely assume that the new mother graciously participates in all that goes on (what mother doesn’t enjoy seeing her perfect baby awed over), but then her response is to take it all in, to hold onto it and to ponder it completely. Knowing, as she does, the true identity of her child, Mary possesses a singular awareness of the immediacy of God, both in her life and in the events leading up to and including this moment. There is a link between love of the Blessed Mother and the growth of Jesus in our hearts. Like the shepherds on that first Christmas, we will always find Jesus with his mother.

Mary models for us what it means to acknowledge and embrace this living God within us. Theoretically, we likely all agree that this presence of God in us is the very center of our being. It’s just as likely that some, or even most of the time, we don’t act as though we do. Our actions follow our thoughts. When our thoughts are turned to God, our actions inevitably follow that course.

Are we allowing Mary into our lives as a model for an attitude of openness? As these events unfold again for us in the Scriptures proclaimed during this season, they reawaken in us an interest in prayer. Are you, like so many people today, hungering for a richer, deeper, more authentic prayer life? Mary has much to teach us in these times. The part she can play in the movement of our awareness of the indwelling presence within us is determined by our own openness and our own willingness to become vulnerable in the world in order to become more secure in our relationship to God, through his Son, Jesus. Mary is uniquely situated to lead us there. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council described her life as a pilgrimage of faith.

So, then, how can we begin to imitate Mary’s example? It could very well begin with the acknowledgement that the tiny, daily moments of our lives contain lessons from God. We can observe the moments, tuck them away in our hearts and then take time later to pull them out to ponder. We can contemplate what God is saying to us through those moments.

We can pay closer attention to our thoughts. Mary is like all of our Saints throughout history, in that she spent her life contemplating the life and teachings of Christ. At any given time, it’s likely her last, most dominate thought was of Jesus. Mary’s thoughts, and therefore her actions, were consistently oriented toward God. So, the question for us is, “What are we thinking?” What are we thinking on our way to work, in line at the store or while waiting for our kids to get on the two tons of winter gear that seem to slow everything down?

Unsure of what we might meditate upon? The rosary is a beautiful place to start. Now, I don’t mean to say that simply sitting down and pounding out a cluster of Our Fathers and Hail Marys in routine patterns is going to get us anywhere in contemplating the mystery of Jesus and God at the center of our soul. I do, however, mean that the rosary, as the story of the Good News through the eyes of Christ’s mother, is a great way to begin to ponder the life and teachings of Jesus. The rosary helps us to see with the eyes of faith, with our hearts open to the growing presence of Jesus in our hearts and offers us a way to greater clarity and understanding of Christ.

Beginning on this special feast day and throughout the new year, we can invite more silence into our inner chamber and, with Mary’s help, allow Jesus to more fully enter in. In reflecting on our daily lives and more carefully shaping our thoughts, we can begin to contemplate Christ and so begin to emulate him in our everyday lives. We can see him through the eyes of her who knew him best, his mother, and therefore become more fully alive in Him and finally become the women and men God created us to be — saints.

Lisa Amos

Pastoral Associate

 

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