Perplexed, worried, concerned, or deeply shocked are some of the emotions that must have played in Mary’s mind and heart upon Gabriel’s message to her from Almighty God. Her response is a normal human one – of confusion along with a medley of amplified feelings of not only humbleness, but uncertainty.
Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.
Mary accepts her new fate. Her path from that moment onwards is based explicitly on trusting God to lead her. The very act of stepping out of her “comfort” zone or previous life, and into a new journey based on faith is the true essence of coming to God. All previous notions of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty are stripped away, as she lets God take the lead.
How would I react if God calls me?
How willing am I to let go of my life to follow Him?
A mothers’ quiet thoughts as she observes her children speaks volume about her strength and fortitude. As a mom, one of the most challenging aspect of being a mother is the multifaced roles and characters we have in caring for our children.
We are the caregiver who hide our inward fears when our children are sick. We nurse our children back to health keeping night long vigils by their bedside.
How many times have I held my tongue from making a hurtful retort. I recall the many times I literally bit my tongue to refrain from sounding like a nag. Being a mother is also balancing act, especially when it comes to positive reinforcements. It is also having a firm fortitude, and giving sincere praise when it is due, and not giving it when it is not.
A mother’s silence is her keep watch over her child, and letting them grow as you stand by them. It is guiding them to be the best they can be, and to learn the skills of critical thinking by providing them with the opportunities to hone in life skills.
As a mother, Holy Mary “treasured” all the things she heard, witnessed and learnt from her son, and ponder them she did – she was both a reflective and discerning woman with humble and quiet strength. There is much I can learn from Mary.
Bishop Barron reminds me of a seed pod that’s taken root, germinated and blown by the wind across the land. All seedlings from this one root is scattered across the land sprouting fresh roots that’s vibrant and green. His messages awakens all sleeping Catholics, and inspires them into joining him in sharing the wonderful message of Jesus.
His institute, Word on Fire Institute, is also a wonderful starting point and support for all those like myself who seeks deeper insights into how to evangelize, as well as an understanding of the nature of our society, it’s demographics, and how at the crux of new technological developments to spread the word of God. It also gives those who wants, a deeper theological foundation. The community is wonderfully supportive as well.
Father Mike is one of my favorite evangelist. His upbeat message, humor and sarcasm, grabs the attention of the most lackadaisical teen (my two children follow daily his Bible in 365 days) and “Nones.
I hope both Bishop Barron and Father Mike helped answer some of your questions.
On a personal note, and as I have talked about in previous postings, after my first steps towards Holy Mary in praying the Rosary, I now run to Mother Mary like a little child, seeking within her embrace -comfort. In my most desperate hour, Holy Mary is there for me and calms my heart so that I can see more clearly my beloved Jesus.
Many years ago, Mathieu was 5 years old, my husband and I took him to Indigo – a bookstore located in the heart of Montreal. I recall leaving him with my husband with specific instructions to keep an eye on him. They were browsing through magazines, and I thought that little Mathieu would have enough to occupy himself with.
I went to browse, and 30 minutes later, “Where is Mathieu?” Upon which my husband looked around hazily and responded, “I though he was with you!”
Oh boy did I bellow out, “Mathieu!”
The whole book store went silent for about 30 seconds – I swear you could have heard a pin drop (sorry for the pun here, but truly that’s how it felt like at the time). “How does he look like?” “How old is he?” Just as quickly after shouting out, “Five, Asian child….”, I heard the someone call out, “FOUND HIM!” “He is in the Children’s Book Department!” I recall my prayer of thankfulness for Mathieu’s safety.
I can almost understand the panic Mary and Joseph must have felt when they discovered Jesus was not among them, and rushed back to the city to find him – 3 days later. The anxiety that wells up in a mother’s heart upon discovering her child is missing is the fear and angst of all mothers. I can imagine the panic Mary must have felt.
A mother’s mission
Through prayer and in my journey towards the Catholic Faith, I feel a song in my heart. I also feel being moved to tell others of my love for Jesus. There is a desire for me to share this light and let it shine out – God’s Divine Mercy and love. I have felt this calling in the past but was not ready to listen to Jesus. Through prayer and mediating on His word, I have asked how he wants me to do this. During praying the Rosary (about 4 weeks ago), I saw an image during prayer of our Holy Mother. The vision was short, but in my vision, she was sad, as if she was telling me that her sadness stems from many in our world who do not know or venerate her. I wasn’t sure what to do with this vision, and I have been asking for the Holy Spirit to guide me.
I am not a theologian, but I can share and give some insights into who Holy Mary is in my life. This is how I can contribute.
A mother’s help
This morning was one of those morning when I am awaken from a dream I can’t recall, but feeling alone and seriously down. It is one of those moments in my life when I wrestle with inner demons. I woke up washed with a tsunami of tears amidst a wall of insecurities – weighted down by the sins of my past. It is a flood gate of self doubt, and I am reminded of the torturous darkness of my soul. How can God love or even want someone like me to serve Him.
My usual tactics to get rid of Satan’s infiltration did not work this morning, and continued to mar my mind with an array of self deification. “You are wasting your time!” “Remember how peaceful your life use to be?” “You are wasting your time blogging.” “You are wasting your time writing” An endless steam of Satan’s bombardment attacked me all morning. Even praying became a battle ground, where Satan used my emotions to prevent me from praying. When I tried to pray, I was strangled with silence as a voice inside me echoed, “Why bother?” “What makes you think God is listening to you?”
“God, how have I displeased you?”
“Mother Mary, Father Joseph help me!” “St Michael, defend me!”
Yes, Satan is real, and he loves nothing more than to create and stir doubt within me. I had to ground myself in prayer, and believe me, that itself was hard today. Praying all of a sudden became a struggle between me and Satan. I felt the struggle. I turned on my Rosary apps from Divine Mercy, and couldn’t even utter the first few parts of the prayer…my tears fell, and I could not utter a word. I listened as I battled my inner demon, and only by the 3rd decade of the Rosary could I start to pray, “Hail Mary Full of Grace, the Lord is with Thee…”
A mother’s comfort
As fast as I was attacked by Satan’s lies and guiles, Mother Mary, along with Father Joseph, St. Michael and all the saints came to my aid – Satan ceased his attacks.
I am just as overwhelmed now as I write this. “Is this the kind of things one writes in a blog?” “Is this the kind of things I can talk about?” Why am I sharing this?
Our journey with God is not always a smooth path, at least not for me. I can say with a sincerity of heart – Satan will use every means to attack. Battle readiness is a must! I am thankful for our Holy Mother’s intervention, and St. Joseph’s help – he is after all the terror of demons. Just as St. Joseph saved the Holy family by taking them out to Egypt, he helps me battle the guiles of Satan.
My comfort is that I can call to Mother Mary (and St. Joseph, St. Michael and all the Saints) to intercede for me. It is not because Jesus does not hear my cries for help, He needs me to trust Him. He also needs me to be in total submission to His will. Just as He had to battle Satan for 40 days and night, I had to by faith accept HIs divine grace and mercy, and know that through His death on the cross for my sin, I am saved.
Getting to know Mary is also getting to know her son, Jesus.
That is really a simple truth for me. As I drew closer to Mary in praying the Rosary daily, I started to think about my role as a mother to my own children, and through mediating on the Rosary, I saw the perfect mother mirrored back at me. She is not only my role model, but she is a light that guides me closer to her son, Jesus.
Meeting and greeting people does not come naturally for me. I am awkward, and lack social finesse. Simple greetings can cause anxiety for me. With time, I learnt how to put on my social mask, and with effort participate in group settings. Getting to know Mary was much the same for me, especially coming from a Protestant background which carries it’s own baggage about our Holy Mother and saints in particular.
With each step I took towards her, I was drawn into her warmth. As I am an organized person, fitting the Rosary into my schedule was easy. Most days, I pray the Rosary in the morning. It starts my day on a positive note. Sometimes, especially when it is sunny and brisk out, I pray the Rosary as I walk the dog early in the morning. There is a wonderful array of online apps, along with material available via Apple music. I am sure the same is available for android devices.
Maintaining a prayerful routine each day has helped me get to know Mary. It has also drawn me closer to Jesus. Mediating on each of the “Sorrow” or “Mystery” has given me insightful depth into my human soul – and my humanity reflected back at me has shown me how flawed I am. The darkness of my soul healed by Jesus.
Know Mary, for she is love. Touched by the Holy Spirit, she carried in her womb our Savior Jesus.
The next few weeks, I will explore and contemplate who Mary is. I want to share the importance of our Holy Mother in my life, and, in my walk with Jesus. Through daily Rosary prayers, not only have I deepen my own insights, understanding, and love for Jesus, but I am filled with a longing to share His Divine mercy to others. The light which radiates within is bursting to shine upon all those around me. It has also deepen my respect and love for our Holy Mother and her role in my spiritual life.
Coming from an evangelical Christian background, Mary was never really discussed in sermons, in fact, the only time I hear about her is during Christmas.
I recall Mary from my childhood as the mother of Jesus, whenever we put on a Christmas pageant in school and in Church, and this was in those days long ago when political correctness didn’t govern our school agendas. As a youngster I recall playing the role of one of the shepherds in the nativity story. As a child growing up, she was simply, the virgin mother of Jesus. This understanding continued to echo onwards into my adult life. My own naïve understanding of her did not change until I was drawn into my Catholic Faith.
Today, it grieves me to see how many around me do not know who the Virgin Mary is, and still countless others who commit great blasphemy again her. I think back to my early years, and question, “Why was such a simple and beautiful truth was veiled from me?” All those years when I was a Pentecostal Christian, I must have had blinders on that prevented me from seeing her beyond the “earthly” mother of Jesus. Just as I must not have seen beyond the many passages about Mary in the Bible. I read without understanding – beyond the obvious.
The idea that much is hidden from us because perhaps we were not ready to see it it a topic I will discuss another day. Certainly for those who are interested, please read and follow Father Hezuk Shroff in Contemplating the Eucharistic Mystery with Saint Thomas Aquinas: Ongoing Series – Be Inspired! (rejoiceandpraise.ca). He presents a great discussion on “seeing” and the “unseen” in his 7th episode.
Today, I present you and hope the above video’s answer for you, “Who is Mary”.
29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.
Let’s watch, discover, and mediate on the question, “Who is Mary?”
From that moment you created me and kissed me, the fire of your spirit came into me.
It filled me and kept me warm and protected, and in the arms of my mother I laid.
You were never far, but gazed upon me with love from above your heavenly realm.
When I was a child, I thought as a child, and gazed at you and though how kind you seem. I was told you were the good shepherd. My friend you became.
I was ignorant and unaware of how Your wisp of fire burnt within me. It kept me safe throughout my childhood.
But as I grew older, you became a distance memory, of a character from a fairy tale of sort, of a kindly man who went out in search of His lost sheep.
So began my journey without, not of the ephemeral joys of childhood stories, but into the vast world around me. I yearned to experience – life!
Lived I will in the world of Sartre and Camus. That little flame within me started to diminish, barely lighting my path. You became a distance memory
Oh how my thoughtlessness must have grieved you. My idiom became the selfish call for subjective truth, as it is I alone who can determine my path or so I thought. I didn’t look back, but fell into the abyss of desire.
Truth, Truth, what is it but to know thine own self. Oh, how good it felt, until I realized I needed more.
Feeding the temporal desires of my body was like seeking a cure for an incurable disease. The more I filled myself and fanned my wants, the greater my need for it became. It threw me into a revolving door of more needs and wants.
It was always You, for you alone patiently waited for me. So many times, from the dark mire of my soul, you have called to me. I tuned you out!
My avariciousness for sexual desires darken my soul. I spiraled into self abasement and addiction to the flesh. Gluttonously satisfying an empty cup that seems to endlessly always need more to fill and feed the demons which took over my body and my spirit.
Jesus, you called my name, but I was too ashamed to lift up my head. I continued to run until I fell into the pit of endless obsession. Yet you never abandoned me, and continued to remind me of your love for me.
You, my dear friend never left me. You were quietly pulling me out of the desiccation that is me. Your hands blocking and casing out the debris around me. You were there to protect me from the rape of soul.
You lifted me out of the veniality of my soul. Your radiant divine mercy and love shrines upon my abyss. You reignited the dying flame within me.
You came down to me so that I can see for myself your love and sincerity. Gazing upon you, I feel the ominous nectar that has consumed me burn away. The light of your fire alighting my soul and reviving me to live again in Your presence. In your gaze, I saw Your love for me.
Holding your gaze, I can let go of myself. I have been liberated from my hate, and my bedeviled past. Gazing up onto the cross, I am forgiven. Holding Your gaze. I am reborn. Your breathe alights within my soul a fire.
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6:19
For a whole year, I’ve been physically inactive. Aside from short walks with my dog to our neighbourhood park, I have not worked out. I feel my clothes getting tighter, my extra weight gain now visibly obvious. Urgh!
God has a way of revealing to us our shortcomings and imperfections. In my Alpha group this week I was moved by many of the personal testimonies shared. One participant reminded us that as we feed our spiritual body, we can’t neglect our physical one.
God has a way of communicating with us through the Holy Spirit. He often uses those around us, along with what’s within our sphere to guide and lead us. Well, again this week one of my favourite bloggers on Instagram posted:
God also moves me through the testimonies of a personal friend and colleague. Her stories gives me encouragement and strength. She inspires me with her kickboxing updates on Instagram. I admire her fortitude when she is also going through personal health challenges. Her faith in Jesus has inspired and deepened my own trust in Him.
Wow, I can’t ignore this, especially as everyday this week I have been waking up at 5:30. Each time, as soon as I realized how early it was, I snuggled back into the warmth of my duvet, “No!” “Please Jesus, it’s too early – 30 more minutes”. Then, “6:30!” “No, too early!”
Yesterday at 5:30 am, and I even felt a light nudge – a gentle caress on my left hand – the light and feathery touch of my guardian angel. I woke up immediately and seeing it was 5:30, I shamefully went back to sleep. “No!”
Finally, today at 5:30, I slowly got up and said to myself, “OK, I’ll listen!” After a coffee to wake myself up along with toast and jam, I prepared myself – in slow mode – to go work out. When I finally stepped onto the elliptical, it was cutting into my morning Rosary time, so I put on my earphones and listened to the Rosary while I silently murmured along with each breathe. It was not easy, but I did it!
Although I’ve been getting my daily spiritual nutrients, I have ignored my physical well being. Although I eat well (ok, I’ll admit a weakness for poutine and potato chips), and take my vitamins, I have neglected keeping my body healthy through exercise. I sit in front of my laptop or devices for the greater part of the day (as I am now, writing). God has been sending me nudges throughout the course of this week – all ignored! I finally stop to listen.
Thank you to all those around me for being God’s conduit.
My prayer is for God’s continued blessings for all those around me. I give thanks to all of you – my Christian family. Please continue to keep me in your prayers, as I do for each of you.