Vol. 6, No. 6 DoM Message
Spiritual Gift of the Week
We ask for the grace, through the intercession of Mary,
to be persistent and persevere in our prayer life;
for the strength to always pray, not grow weary and not lose heart;
we pray to trust in God’s unfailing love and
to find joy and contentment in Him alone.
Spiritual Instruction of the Week
To know the heart of Jesus—
Pray with all your heart—
And then, reflect upon his Word.
Dear Beautiful Daughters of Mary,
The study of the sacred page should be, as it were, the very soul of theology.”(Verbum Domini)
“A thinking woman’s prayer group.” This was the amazingly astute and affirming observation about Daughters of Mary made by Lindsay Nagy on Tuesday. Her words acknowledge that thoughtful, studied reflection is key to our way of prayer. We identify with Mary, the mother of God, who was most surely a thinking woman. As Pope Benedict XVI said in Verbum Domini: “Mary speaks and thinks with the word of God; the word of God becomes her word, and her word issues from the word of God. In the Magnificat, we see how her thoughts are attuned to the thoughts of God, how her will is one with the will of God. Since Mary is completely imbued with the word of God, she is able to become the Mother of the Word Incarnate.”
The Church teaches the importance of studied reflection upon Scripture. In the Catechism we are told to consider “the sacred authors’ intention” and “take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking and narrating then current (#110). Truth in other words is found in various types of historical writings and literary texts, i.e., poetry, narrative, prophetical words. Historical context is one way to seek truth with reverence. We are not fundamentalists—we are not literalists. We are reverent women of faith. Historical context is important, for Christ has a history. His mission is brought about in history. Our end is to be with the Church in her proclamation of Christ throughout history. Our study is guided by faith and reason.
The gospel for Sunday offers us an opportunity to consider the historical context and culture of Luke’s community. In Luke, which was a mix of Gentiles and Jews, the role of women was uncertain. So Jesus’ relationship with women is presented differently from Matthew and Mark. Women have importance in the birth and infancy stories. Women are important in Jesus’ public ministry. Women appear in miracle stories. Women are followers of Jesus. Most important for our study this week, Jesus pays attention to widows in Luke. In fact, Jesus refers to widows six times: the story of the widow Anna with Simeon in the Temple; the widow of Zarephath; the widow of Nain; the widows who are victims of hypocrites; the generous widow; and then also, the persistent widow. Widows in Luke’s community exemplify the search for justice. Socially, they were not respected. Luke’s Jesus turns this social construct on its head. And he turns the hearts of those around him, revealing his heart for widows. His followers learned to reflect with integrity upon God as they witnessed Jesus’ relationship with widows. In fact, Jesus’ dealings with all women in Luke accentuate the relief and consolation that comes with the extraordinary mercy of God.
We are for sure a thinking woman’s prayer group. And Mary is our model. Mary is our model of theological integrity in her reflection on the word of God. She considered the prophets of Israel and their oracles. She prayed the poetry of the psalms. She understood the history of her people. She lived in and for the divine plan for salvation, from its beginnings. She joined with other women, just as we do, sitting separate from men in the synagogue, and she studied the Scriptures. She sought truth with great reverence, as we hope to do. She focused on the loving merciful salvific grace of God, just as we hope to do. Mary became a woman of God, for her son Jesus and for his Church. We learn from her how to study Scripture. From her, we learn how to become women of God, for the sake of her son Jesus and for his Church. From her, we learn how to be thinking women.
Pope Benedict wrote: “We learn from Mary how to be shaped by the working of God within us.” Let us pray with all our heart to know the heart of her son Jesus. Let us open our hearts to the working of God within us. Let us pray and reflect with integrity.
Dear Beautiful Daughters of Mary,
For more encouragement about the study of Scripture using historical context, we can look at many recent encyclicals, from Leo XIII to Pius XII and even to the words of our own Pope Francis: “Our faith is not only centered on a book, but on a history of salvation and above all on a person, Jesus Christ!”
Veni, Spirito Santo, la misericordia di Dio ci salva—
Come Holy Spirit, it is by God’s mercy that we are saved,