“By a singular gift of God’s grace, no one other than her Son was ever so meek, humble, or grace-filled as the Blessed Virgin,” a new Manual for Marian Devotionnotes. It’s a leather-bound volume (also available on Kindle) meant to help guide not only prayer by a lifestyle of going to Mary as mother, to be more like her Son, knowing and treasuring God’s will in your life. She is role model, intercessor, and teacher. How can we live that way? Sister Albert Marie Surmanski, O.P., a Dominican Sister of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, who teaches theology at Ave Maria University, put the Manual together with the help of Sr. Maria Veritas Marks, O.P. Sr. Albert Marie shares a bit about the book and Marian living.
I am always a little tempted when the genealogy reading comes up in the gospel to read. If for no other reason, it is to see if I can read it with the type of conviction that might cause people to pay attention. Usually I do not. And yet, when we think about celebrating a birthday, it might be the best time for us to think about the connections we have to the past, and will have in the future. For better or worse, our family and our relatives are connected.
What is interesting to me is that we do not choose these connections. We did not have auditions to see what relatives would “make the cut.” They were given to us, whether we wanted them to be or not. We did not have a choice in the matter. We do however have a choice in how we will allow them to influence us.
Most people can look to their relatives and see how, in positive ways, they have shaped the persons we are and whom it is we will become. When I think of my relatives, they are probably not a lot different from yours. There are some relatives of mine I admire deeply and seek to emulate in my faith and in the way I live my life. There are others for whom faith is not as important. At the same time, they still impact the person I am, either because I have been shaped by past experiences or people I care about have been shaped by past experiences.
Watch out! I use a GPS system that not only tells me the directions, but also warns me of obstacles to driving I might encounter. It warns me by saying “Watch out!” and then it indicates what the hazard or issue is. The first time I used this, when I heard “Watch out!” I was startled. But know I look forward to hearing it, because I find the verbal warnings to be helpful in keeping me safe.
I think of the Solemnity of the Assumption in a similar way. Only on this day, when we are encouraged to “Watch out!” it is not simply to avoid hazards, though that is part of what we do today. It is also to give us the path to follow. By reflecting on the way in which Mary lived her life, we are shown the way a disciple of Jesus is led to follow him and find in doing so, God himself.
To be sure, there are many things we can encounter on a daily basis that might cause us to proceed with caution. It can be quite difficult indeed to remember that every person is created in the dignity that God gives. When people cut us off in traffic, it is not easy to remember God given dignity. When we see someone begging for help, it can be quite the challenge to see them as person of Christ himself. Even with those we love greatly, we can be tempted to consider only our own needs and not the needs of those with whom we live.
I am preaching the Novena of Saint Jude, days 4-9. This is an audio recording of my day eight preaching, which focused on the Blessed Mother. Far from having an easy life, Mary is the model for saying yes to God unreservedly. For more information about the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus in Chicago, visit their website here.
When we think of Mary, the Mother of God, we can think that her greatness is that she gave birth to Jesus. But such is not really the case. Today’s gospel tells us that it is not the biological relationship that is primary in a follower of Jesus, even if that follower is a biological parent. Jesus tells us in today’s gospel what makes for greatness in the faith. While it may appear at first that Jesus is somewhat rude to his mother (I certainly would not dare try speaking to my mother in that way) he is really making a point about what really matters.
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