Photo: Felix Carroll
By Dan Valenti (Nov 14, 2009)
What force of God can tame beasts, soften steely hearts, and through tenderness and compassion serve as object lessons in the practicality of day-to-day mercy?
Why, femininity, of course.
A gifted, young Marian priest injected a serious dose of the feminine into the North American Congress on Mercy in a stem-winding talk on Saturday, Nov. 14, centered on "Mary, Mother and Masterpiece of Mercy."
Perfect in Virtue, Thrice-Created by God
Father Donald Calloway, MIC, borrowed his motif from Archbishop Fulton Sheen's book on the Blessed Mother, The World's First Love. Father Donald noted what happened with the Holy Trinity and Mary: "God the Father made His own daughter. God the Son made His own mother. God the Holy Spirit made His own spouse."
How could such a creature not be perfect, something the Church recognizes in its teaching on the Immaculate Conception? Mary, Fr. Donald said, personifies "the superlative of all virtues."
Our Lady is tenderness at its best, maternity at its most loving, and purity at the apogee of spotlessness. Even with that, though, Mary doesn't remain at a spiritual distance. Far from being a woman so perfect we can't relate to her, Mary cemented her bond with us by assenting to become the Mother of God. For this reason, she is venerated, not worshipped. For this reason, she is our mother as well.
'The Depository of All Graces'
"She is the pattern of what it means to be a Christian, a disciple," said Fr. Donald, the Marians' vocation director.
Like Jesus, "we have to be born through her, for she is the depository of all graces. What you can say of Mary, you can say of the Church. She is the blueprint, the model."
As we all are, Mary "is dependent on mercy, and mercy [Jesus as The Divine Mercy] is dependent on her. It's a paradox," Fr. Donald said. "So it is with us. We can't live without [God's] mercy, and we can't be born again without Mary. We will never know Jesus Christ's fullness without His mother."
Father Donald then went in an unexpected though fruitful direction, turning to science, specifically, the phenomenon of fetal microchimerism. This recent biological finding strongly suggests that when a woman has a child, cells of that child will continue to live in the mother the rest of her life.
Amazingly, these microchimeric cells come to defend her life when she is sick. In fact, they are among the most aggressive defenders of the mother's health. Likewise, we retain cells in our own bodies that come from our mothers. As the mother of Jesus, Mary retained her Son's cells throughout her life ("The Church has never dogmatically declared that Mary ever died. She never died because she had the cells of the God-Man").
Say 'Yes' to God
We, too, as children of Mary, retain her spiritual cells in us and ours remain in her. We can use that for strength, Fr. Donald said, because, "in some mystical way, you were born from her at Calvary, from her pierced heart." God "planned it that way."
Father Donald told NACOM pilgrims, "The greatest thing that we can say [to God's call] is 'let it be done to me according to Your word.'" Say "yes" to God; give Him your "fiat," as Mary did. "That is the stamp of mercy."
Visit Father Donald's website, fathercalloway.com.