Say yes like Mary said yes


During his apostolic ministry, about two decades after Christ’s Ascension, St. Paul was compelled to write a letter to the Galatians rebuking them for the false gospel they had embraced. After Paul left them, some men had infiltrated their congregation and convinced them that as pagan Christians they had to be circumcised and adopt certain Old Covenant ceremonial laws in order to be saved.

In his frustration and anger, the apostle told the Galatians that the life of Christ should be formed anew in them: “My little children, with whom I labor again until Christ be formed in you (Gal. 4:19). ). Their heresy was so great that it terminated the pregnancy and demanded that the conception and subsequent gestation be started anew.

It was truly a dark day in the history of the early Church, but what is instructive for today’s practicing Catholic are the similarities we have with Our Lady seen through the prism of this controversy. . Unlike Mary, Christ is not physically formed in us in a literal way, but it is spiritually formed in us in a literal way.

The decisions we make about our beliefs and behaviors influence its formation within us, for good or ill. Mortal sin can lead to the termination of a pregnancy while a holy life will lead to a birth that is carried to term and healthy in every way.

Saint Bernard said of Our Lady: “By her virginity, she pleased God; by her humility, she conceived it. It is no doubt referring to Mary’s own words about herself when she said that God “looked upon the humility of his servant; for behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed” (Lk 1:48).

A very helpful idea regarding the relationship between humility and a fruitful womb comes from the prophet Isaiah: “For thus says he who is high and lofty who dwells in eternity, whose name is holy: and holy, and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to stir up the spirit of the humble and stir up the heart of the contrite” (Is. 57:15).

Mary created the perfect home for Christ inside and outside the womb because God loves to dwell in and with the humble. Christ is also conceived in us through humility.

It is the poor in spirit who inherit the kingdom of God (Mt 5:3). They are those humble and broken souls who have come to the end of themselves and who are acutely aware of their own spiritual and moral bankruptcy.

They are ready to receive the seed of the kingdom (Mt. 13:1-23) and have Christ conceived in them. As Jacques wrote: and gently receive the implanted wordwho can save your souls” (James 1:21; emphasis mine).

While the virtue of humility was perfectly developed in Our Lady, it will take the rest of our lives to become true humble servants of God. While a significant aspect of our humility is the grief we feel over our sins, Mary the Immaculate Conception has no such grief.

However, our humility has this in common with Our Lady: we are both established. It means that everything comes to us from God and our admission of our nothingness creates the ideal home for Christ.

There was a time when we did not exist: God blew on the dust and we became a living being. Every good gift, whether natural or spiritual, added to our very existence comes from above: “Every good endowment and every perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of lights in whom there is neither variation nor shadow due to change” (James 1:17).

In summary: To say “yes, be it done to me” as Mary said yes before conception, is to say it with a humble heart. What is sometimes overlooked is that the same principle is true during gestation (i.e. Christ is formed in us) as the process of sanctification takes place on this side of eternity.

Humility is not a one-time event as we are baptized in water and receive the Spirit. Nope; it is mandatory way of life as we work out our salvation after conversion with fear and trembling.

The Triune God is made up of three distinct but undivided persons. Where you find one Person, you will find the other Two and this is why Saint Paul said of Christ: “in him everything fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily” (Col. 2:9; emphasis mine).

Where you find humility, you will also find grace and obedience. This trinity underlies and pervades our sanctification.

God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5). Because Mary was perfectly humble, she was also full of grace which enabled her to practice the obedience of the servant of the Lord.

At his baptism, Christ humbled himself and fulfilled all righteousness by letting his cousin baptize him. The Spirit of grace (Heb. 10:29) rested upon the humble Lamb, and because of his obedience his Father was pleased.

Mother Teresa went so far as to say that humility was the mother of all virtues:

“Humility is the mother of all virtues; purity, charity and obedience. It is by being humble that our love becomes real, devoted and ardent. If you are humble, nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are. If you are blamed, you will not be discouraged. If they call you a saint, you won’t put yourself on a pedestal.

No wonder Fr. Cajetan Mary da Bergamo, who wrote the classic humility of heart, believed that a person’s level of sanctification is proportional to his level of humility. If this is true, Bergamo added, our ranking in paradise will be directly linked to our humility.

This is why Our Lady is the Queen of Heaven. Because she is the most humble creature in all of creation, she is exalted far above all saints, angels, and even the highest angels: cherubim and seraphim.

If we want to imitate Mary and have Christ fully formed within us, humility of heart is a good starting point. This will cultivate a life of virtue, obedience to Scripture and Tradition, and a solid liturgical, sacramental, and devotional experience.

Think of these things as really healthy stuff to feed your baby while in the womb. Consider staying away from such things as a good way to end your pregnancy.

The latter is prevalent everywhere among self-identified Catholics. Not only do 69% do not believe in the Real Presence but less than 50% believe that homosexual behavior, divorce and remarriage without annulment, cohabitation and contraception are sins.

Such heterodoxy is often the fruit of pride (and bad catechesis). Such people believe they know better than Scripture and Tradition: they have removed God from the throne and replaced Him with themselves by becoming the arbiters of truth and morality.

If Joseph and Mary were alive today, many “progressive” (i.e. cafeteria) Catholics would consider them “rigid”, “critical” and “self-righteous”, because when they introduced Jesus at the temple, “they had accomplished everything according to the law of the Lord” (Lk 2:39). Unlike many of their ancestors, they did not do what was right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25).

The “rigid” are accused of having the pride of the Pharisees but this is really a projection on the part of the “progressives” who, in their pride, have made themselves the arbiters of truth and morality. It is indeed often in deep humility in imitation of Mary that the “rigid” submit themselves to an authority superior to themselves by obeying the faith once delivered (Jude 1, 3).

Image: the Annunciation, Piermatteo D’Amelia, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum


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