Fr. Paolo Sottopietra reflects on the singular holiness of our Lady, and on why she essential for the path of each one of us.

Let us stop for a moment and pay attention to Our Lady.

Let us pay attention to her as she grows without sin, accompanied by her parents. Let us contemplate her love for Joseph and her life with him. Let us look at the relationship that was born between her and her Son’s disciples, starting from the first few Jesus invited into his home. Let us imagine her as she serves, walking along the streets of Palestine among the women who followed Jesus in his travels.

What do we see? We see that God wanted to associate with Mary a very special sanctifying force. Everywhere, we see for those who meet her, Mary facilitates a journey toward the full truth of themselves. This she does with a discreet authoritativeness, as she slowly begins to emerge, most especially in her relationships with her Son and with God. This relationship with her Son continues until Pentecost, in which we find her at the center of the prayers of the entire Christian community gathered in Jerusalem.

Praying with Mary helped all the Apostles, and even the most intimate such as John, to pray. No one had ever prayed like her. Our Lady placed herself in front of God with complete openness, without the slightest bit of fear which sometimes pushes us to hide ourselves from His gaze. Mary was complete expectation, complete asking and confidence. In her dialogue with God she was without defenses; she abandoned herself to Him completely.

It must have been beautiful to pray with her, just as now it is beautiful to let her help us to pray.

Disarming confidence and abandonment: if we pay attention to Mary, these words become synonymous with strength. The first word from the Bible that makes reference to her confirms this. It is a bellicose prophecy: I will put enmity between you and the woman, God says to the snake.

Mary embodied total accord. And therefore she was also complete “no.”

Her friendship with God was radical. God’s preference for that which is holy is constant and without defect. Mary was a clear “yes” even toward men and toward things, in the order established by God. Mary deeply loved this order. Equally radical therefore was her enmity toward disorder and toward the Enemy, toward he who disrupted God’s order. On this side of things, Mary was always and only a “no.”

From the gospels and the book of Revelation we know that Mary suffered for this. She suffered for evil and for the weakness and corruption of hearts and of relationships. She empathizes for the suffering which our weakness toward evil engenders. Her heart tenderly accepted all of this pain itself, participating ever more fully in her Son’s mission. With her Son, she paid the price of forgiveness.

Both Mary’s total positivity and her complete enmity [towards evil] communicate to men security and hope.

Mary is present. She is present for the good, she is present against evil. Her sanctity renders her joyful and certain, laboriously committed to the other’s good, attentive, welcoming, caring, always ready to forgive, full of trust towards everyone, able to sympathize, ready to intercede on behalf of everyone to her Son and to the Father.

This is the power of sanctity which changed those who lived near Mary and which changes us as well today.

Looking at Mary helps us because in our life we are called to reflect both her “yes” and her “no.” Christ wants us in the world the way he wanted his Mother; [He wants us] to emulate her. He wants to communicate to us the power of a sanctity that belongs uniquely to Mary, so that we too can reflect this in the world. He desires for each one of us a great heart like the heart of Mary, such that the lost may find refuge under our loving care, charged with hope and forgiveness; so that children and young people may discover in us fathers and mothers who open a path toward a relationship with God for them; such that he who already lives in the grace of God may discover through our witness a support for their faith; such that our houses’ prayers keep evil away from the neighborhoods in which we live; such that the communion we live among us may be a sign to those who are entrusted to us.

 

In the picture is a close up of a mosaic assembled by Mark I. Rupnik and the artists of the Aletti Center that can be found at Santa Maria del Rosario ai Martiri Portuensi in Rome, a parish entrusted to the priests of the Fraternity of St. Charles (photo courtesy of Giorgio Caramia).

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