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Obey Your Way to Freedom

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By Marc Massery

Last month, we talked about devotion, the fifth of the Blessed Virgin Mary's Evangelical Virtues. This month, we address Mary's sixth Evangelical Virtue: obedience.

To our modern culture, the idea that we Catholics are called to practice obedience might seem archaic, perhaps even dangerous. But far from being a burden, obedience to God is a virtue, one that leads to authentic freedom. The Blessed Virgin Mary exemplified this virtue throughout her life on earth.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

The duty of obedience requires all to give due honor to authority and to treat those who are charged to exercise it with respect, and, insofar as it is deserved, with gratitude and good-will. (1900)

Practicing the virtue of obedience means giving honor to the authority of God in all we do and trying our best to follow His will for us. This includes following His Commandments and worshipping Him as He asks.

The Blessed Virgin Mary exemplified obedience. The Archangel Gabriel came to her and announced she would become the Mother of God. Despite any surprise and confusion Mary felt, she obediently complied, saying, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38). Mary said "yes" to God's will for her because she believed the Lord was good and that He had her best interests at heart. Sure, she likely had many questions about what being Christ's mother would entail, but despite facing the unknown, she obeyed. As St. Irenaeus said:

Being obedient [Mary] became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race. Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert ... The knot of Eve's disobedience was untied by Mary's obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith.

We can confidently entrust ourselves to God's will because we believe that, as Our Lady of Fatima said, the Lord has "designs of mercy" upon us. He only wants what is best for us. Therefore, no matter what He asks of us, we ought to comply.

Though worldly people may believe they are free from the burdens of faith, it's sin -— not faith -— that ultimately enslaves. Jesus said, "I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin" (Jn 8:34). Consider, for example, playing an instrument, like the piano. Knowing the rules and obeying them gives one the freedom to play whatever beautiful song one desires. Ignoring the rules only enables one to make noise. When we adhere to God's will for us, we open ourselves up to experiencing the freedom He always intended us to enjoy.

Conceived without the stain of original sin, Mary was more obedient, and thus freer, than any other created human person. So let's ask the Blessed Virgin Mary for the grace to be obedient to the Lord and His will for us so that we can live more like she did, free from the burden of sin.

Next month, we'll reflect on the seventh of the Blessed Virgin Mary's 10 Evangelical Virtues: poverty.

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