Who is Mary and why does she matter?
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Photo: Felix Carroll
The "Coronation of Mary," located above the entrance doors of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, is one of the many works of stained glass done for the Shrine by Fred Leuchs of Stockbridge. The queen symbol was given to Mary because she is a perfect follower of Christ, who is the absolute "crown" of creation.
Prepare for Christmas with Mary
by Fr. Larry Dunn, MIC
We rejoice with the angels at the birth of Jesus! Yet we cannot forget that God accomplished this miracle of the first Christmas through the "yes" of a virgin named Mary at the Annunciation.
Yes, Christmas reminds us of the Heavenly Father's gift of His Son to us. But it should also remind us of Our Blessed Mother's gift of herself to God and to each of us. By opening herself to the will of God, Mary helped fulfill God's plan for the life of His Son. And by making herself available to each of us as a spiritual mother, she seeks to nurture our life in Jesus.
Making a Spiritual Inventory
We can all benefit from her motherly care. Let me share with you what a difference she has made in my own life.
Many years ago, as a young religious, I was not very satisfied with my life and contemplated leaving my community. I thought that something was missing in my life. Although I prayed when the community prayed, never missed Mass, and was active in ministry, I knew that something was wrong because I was not growing spiritually.
One day I went out for a walk and made a tough inventory of my life. I discovered it wasn't something that was missing in my life; it was someone — Mary, my mother. As a member of a community dedicated to her, I had to admit that I did not have a personal relationship with her. I would only pray the Rosary, for example, when the community prayed it in common during the months of May and October.
Getting to Know Mary
During that walk, the Holy Spirit gave me a valuable insight. He showed me that if I wanted to grow spiritually, I needed to develop a personal relationship with the Blessed Mother.
So, I committed myself to praying the Rosary every day for six months to see if it would make a difference in my life. And it did! I steadily grew to appreciate what a wonderful mother I have in Mary. Since then, I have had no more doubts about my vocation. In fact, I grew in understanding more clearly my own vocation. At that time, I was a brother. Now I have been ordained a priest.
However, the biggest difference was the way Our Blessed Mother led me closer to her Son, Jesus. You see, she really has only one goal for all of us as her dear children — to bring us to a deeper relationship with Jesus.
Living in Faith
As our spiritual mother, Mary helps foster the gift of faith in us. In fact, when you reflect on her life, you discover that Our Blessed Mother must have had an enormous amount of faith.
The great spiritual writer St. Alphonsus Liguori said of Our Lady:
The Blessed Virgin had to have more faith than all people and all angels. She saw her Son in the crib at Bethlehem and believed Him to be the Creator of the world; she saw Him run in exile from Herod and believed Him to be the King of Kings; ... she saw that He did not speak and believed Him to be the Word of Eternal Wisdom.
Our Blessed Mother now wishes to share this precious gift of faith with us, her beloved children.
Preparing for Christmas
As you think about Advent and prepare to celebrate the 2,016th anniversary of Jesus' birth, I invite you to take your own spiritual inventory. Ask yourself, "What or who is missing in my spiritual life? How is the Holy Spirit calling me to respond?"
Ask Our Blessed Mother to help you with your inventory. With her help, you can be well prepared to make this your best Christmas ever, as you joyously celebrate the greatest gift of all — her Son and our Brother, Jesus Christ.
Father Larry Dunn, MIC, lives and works at the Marian House of Studies in Washington, D.C.