Vol.5 No.45 DoM E Message
Spiritual Gift of the Week
We pray for the grace to know and ponder the presence of the Lord as Mary did.
We pray that the Gospel will occupy a central place in our lives.
Spiritual Instruction of the Weekp
“But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” (Lk. 2:19)
Dear Beautiful Daughters of Mary,
There is a lovely statute of the Madonna which beautifully depicts her posture as a woman of prayer. She stands holding her infant, the child Jesus, in one arm. With the other, in a most feminine gesture—she gently holds her cloak away from her face, clearing the way for her vision, and ours, as she reveals the small and beautiful body of the divine presence on earth. Mary lovingly gazes upon Christ, sharing her gaze with us…proving her soul…“proclaiming the greatness of the Lord.” The statute is most surely a perfect portrait of contemplation.
Mary is our model of prayer. The character of her prayer comes through every scene of the New Testament. In Luke’s account of the Annunciation, we are told: “Mary treasured and pondered” all that the angel said to her. Her heart was ordered, seeking God’s presence even before she was overshadowed by the angel. Full of grace, she is thoughtful, actively engaged, even questioning—never complacent or passive. “How can this be, I have no relations,” Mary asked the angel, pressing for an answer—and yet still—it is her own answer that transforms our hearts. Her ‘Yes’ is crucial to our saving history. “The eyes of her heart already turned to him at the Annunciation,” wrote John Paul II (RVM 11). Mary’s ‘fiat’ was most surely born in contemplation.
Mary is our first and most perfect example of contemplation in action. She left the angel and “set out and traveled to the hill country in haste…” She goes to help her cousin Elizabeth. When she arrives, she radiates the mystery of divine presence. Full of grace and joy, Elizabeth ‘calls her blessed.’ Her ‘Yes’ most surely brings Christ’s presence to those around her. Mary gives birth to contemplation in others. Through her action, (and intercession), contemplation is born in us.
For Mary, to contemplate is to seek and find Christ. Mary and Joseph search for their young son—“anxiously searched,” we are told in Luke. But here ’anxiously’ and anxiety are not the same. Mary’s ‘Yes’ is without ‘anxiety, without calculation,” says Adrienne von Speyr. Her ‘fiat’ reflects an ordered love for her son, which co-inheres with her fervent, ardent, urgent desire for the divine presence. “Why were you searching for me?” Jesus asked her. “Did you not know I had to be in my Father’s house?” And although she does not fully ‘understand his words,’ as Luke tells us, Jesus is disclosing the Church’s need— our need. Jesus reveals our need to know him. Mary’s contemplation then will always include our need.
Mary teaches us that contemplation is a search for “the one thing needed.” She fervently seeks her son, and in doing so, she shows us how to contemplate. In her contemplative motherhood, Mary knows our need for her son. As John Paul II wrote: “Mary teaches us to seek the face of Christ in all facets of life, whether in the radiant light of joyous moments or in the darkness of sorrow and death, and even in the midst of our astonishment or confusion,…Mary teaches us to continue to open ourselves up to profound trust, by pondering all things in our hearts,” (RVM 14). Marian contemplation is about profound trust and heartfelt pondering. Mary will guide us in our need, as we contemplate her son.
Mary guides our hearts to do the will of her son. “Do whatever he tells you,” she states in the Gospel of John (2:25). She opened her son’s earthly ministry with these words, and in so doing, opened our hearts to his voice. In contemplation we hear Christ’s loving commands. As contemplatives, we act upon Christ’s loving will. Mary calls us to our own ‘fiat.’ Our contemplation, in prayer and action, is our ‘Yes.’
Perhaps Mary’s most exquisite moment of contemplation is at the foot of the Cross—it is there that she chooses the ‘better portion.’ Standing with the Beloved, we are told in John, she treasures and ponders in her heart, her son’s redemptive act. She contemplates, in the midst of of sorrow, pain and suffering, the mysterious glory of her son’s presence. In that moment, her ‘fiat’ expands to include the Church. Her love for her son extends to us, her daughters.
We may here end with a reflection on another statue, the Piéta, where Mary holds her son after death, for it is there that her contemplation is most poignant and passionate.
Let us pray that our contemplation (and our action) may more perfectly model Mary. As John Paul II wrote: “As we contemplate with our Mother the mysteries of her Son, she becomes for us ‘a means of learning;’ she teaches us “to ‘read’ Christ, to discover his secrets and to understand his message” (RVM, §14).
Let us pray and contemplate…
One final insight into prayer and contemplation comes from Pope Francis in “The Face of Mercy”: “We need to constantly contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it…” (2)
Veni, Spirito Santo, la misericordia di Dio ci salva—
Come Holy Spirit, it is by God’s mercy that we are saved,