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Under the Mantle: Marian Thoughts from a 21st Century Priest

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Mary, Mother of Christians

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Last time, we took a quick look at the Christian spiritual path: conversion, purgation, illumination, and union. This month, we'll discover how Our Lady is the great model of the Christian spiritual life.

The Second Vatican Council was very clear on the purpose of the Christian life: All Christians are called to be saints. We are not supposed to hope to just squeak into heaven by way of purgatory, but rather to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength (see Lk 22:37). Jesus said that if you love Him, you will obey Him. Then the Blessed Trinity will come and dwell within you (see Jn 14:23).

Who has lived this to the full? Someone who, by cooperating with God's grace, loves and obeys God so completely that God comes to dwell within her. Sound like someone we all know and love?

When Jesus described an obedient disciple, He was giving us a spiritual portrait of His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. How do we know? Because God came and dwelled within her as in no one else. She is the immaculate Mother of the Son, Daughter of the Father, and Spouse of the Holy Spirit. God so loved her that the Son took up residence within her very womb for nine months. The Spirit overshadowed her. The Lord is with her, and she is full of grace.

Mary is the model for us all. She is the Mother of Christians, a role that's made very clear in Scripture:

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. ... She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. ... Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God's commandments and bear witness to Jesus (Rev 12:1, 5, 17).

She is the mother of all who are converted, love the Lord, obey His commandments, and bear witness to Jesus, her Son. She is the only human person to have been conceived without stain of original sin since Adam and Eve, given birth to a Son without original sin, and been completely, spotlessly obedient to God out of love all her life. She is the only human person to have walked the Christian spiritual path to its furthest reaches.

This was the first triumph of the Immaculate Heart, a triumph over the world, the flesh, and the devil; a triumph won by Mary and her Son, her seed, in perfect fulfillment of God's prophecy from Genesis 3:15.

Mary has enmity with the devil now and into eternity for her humility defeated his pride; her obedience undid the knots created by the disobedience of Eve; her love overcomes his hatred; her seed (Jesus and all those who love and obey God) will crush the head of the serpent and defeat all those who serve the devil and their own pride.

The spirituality of the Immaculate Heart is perfectly encapsulated in three places in Scripture: Mary's response to Gabriel (see Lk 1:38); her Magnificat (see Lk 1:46-55); and her words to the servants at the wedding in Cana (see Jn 2:5). Why not make those passages a regular part of your prayer life, the better to learn how to imitate the Blessed Virgin?

Next time, we'll talk about the relevance of the spirituality of the Immaculate Heart to present-day Christians, especially those facing persecution.

Spirituality of the Immaculate Heart
Mary Pondered in Her Heart
The Heart of The Matter
Temples of the Holy Spirit
Sanctifying Grace
From Sons to Slaves
Baptism Saves You
Confession Resurrects You
Eucharist Nourishes You
Confirmation Ignites You
Through Darkness Into Light
Mary, Mother of Christians
Salt. Light. Hope.

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