Imitating the Mother of God
Happy Feast of the Holy Family! Continuing in the Christmas season we celebrate the Feast of Mary, Mother of God next weekend. As we begin the new week, and soon the new year, this is the perfect time to ponder the connections throughout of all this. During Advent and now in the Christmas season, we have heard much of Mary’s virtues, her humility, her silence. Keeping things in her heart, she recollected herself to God, thus setting the standard and modeling the practice for us. We admire the standard, but do we stop to think about putting this into practice?
A few years back, Fr. Burke challenged us to think about the quality of our prayer on this special day. As many people will be making New Year’s resolutions, perhaps improved prayer might be top of the list:
“What is the quality of our prayer? Do we go before the Lord in silence to listen, away from the hectic pace of the world in which we live? Are we open to God’s will for our lives, no matter how difficult it may be? Do we thank God not only for the blessings we enjoy, but also for the sufferings we endure?”
These are tough questions! And the answers are too frequently ‘no’. But honest examination of the reasons then becomes the conversation with God, which is prayer itself. So taking that next step, honesty, is the door opener. As descendants of Adam and Eve, however, we fear doing so and continue hiding in the woods as if God doesn’t already know our heart! Perhaps that is why He chose to come to us as a newborn, vulnerable and surrendered to mere mortals: to dispel our fears, so we let Him into our heart.
“With great concern for the dignity of each one, He is careful not to overwhelm or to force, but to be present in a manner that is at once subtle, gentle and kind. Not afraid of rejection, He exercises His great power to address us by means of a bold invitation, a surprising appeal, an insistent cry of the heart. So great and inexhaustible is His desire for us that He constantly comes in ways that are never the same, always new – as if each Noel were the first Noel and the only Noel that He had ever offered. Life-giving in the face of death, He comes anew today to illuminate the Divine Tenderness towards us that we have too long shut our eyes against.”
Now having mustered up the courage to be still and silent with God, maybe a New Year’s resolution is in order: to set aside a holy hour for Him (such as weekly in adoration or nightly at home). This seems perfectly doable until we wake up the next morning and real life sets in! Perhaps it is time to rethink “what is a Holy hour?”. If God is at the beginning of every breath and sustains us in His love every moment, then every hour is a Holy hour. Certainly, daily mental prayer is needed to truly grow any kind of relationship with Him. And it is best spent within the presence of Jesus when possible. But we shouldn’t overlook that whenever, and wherever, we intend to surrender our attention to Him we are praying. He’s already there waiting for us to do just that. Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection discovered this. For us “weaker souls piously inclined” Fr. Schouppe’s little book might also aid our mental prayer.
One outcome of our mental prayer is increased desire to intercede in prayer for others. Please continue to pray for all clergy and those on the path, especially Pope Francis, all religious and clergy, our worldwide Church and our country.
Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest, and in our souls take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heavenly aid to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.
O comforter, to Thee we cry, O heavenly gift of God Most High,
O fount of life and fire of love, and sweet anointing from above.
Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known; Thou, finger of God’s hand we own;
Thou, promise of the Father, Thou Who dost the tongue with power imbue.
Kindle our sense from above, and make our hearts o’erflow with love;
with patience firm and virtue high the weakness of our flesh supply.
Far from us drive the foe we dread, and grant us Thy peace instead;
so shall we not, with Thee for guide, turn from the path of life aside.
Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow the Father and the Son to know;
and Thee, through endless times confessed, of both the eternal Spirit blest.
Now to the Father and the Son, Who rose from death, be glory given,
with Thou, O Holy Comforter, henceforth by all in earth and heaven.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam 😊
Image by Romolo Tavani from Shutterstock
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