I promised you last week that I would write today about how the Blessed Mother serves as our greatest model of the virtue of humility…and I must say, I really needed to do this lesson for myself! It is a virtue that we tend to learn through recognizing its absence, for when arrogance, pride, and self-importance make themselves known in others, we likely feel an urge to turn away and discredit any good works the person may be doing. Ahhh…here again is the Evil One at play!
When Mary gave herself to the Holy Spirit to become the mother of Christ, I must wonder if she had any idea what was happening to her. If she did, would she have accepted so readily? Without a deep relationship with God, probably not. Her Jewish heritage showed her the way of blessings was through obedience, so when the angel Gabriel appeared, even though frightened, she gave her consent because she loved God so much.
Her humility was shown throughout her life in that she was in constant, prayerful communion with God, listening for His direction. She did not make decisions on her own without consultation in prayer and a knowledge that the action she took was guided by God’s will for her. What we know as ego, was probably very subdued in this woman of God.
In our world, there is temptation to be successful and popular. This temptation is easily used by the Devil to lure us into believing that because our idea has to do with work of the Church or ministry to others for Christ it is okay. Well, let’s take a minute. What are our real motivations? Money, to be known by many, promotion of our own visions and ideas? These are so hard to sort out!
Again, take a look at Mary. Nothing she did took higher priority than that which God had planned for her, but she did not let the other duties of her life go by the wayside. One example is that she visited her cousin, Elizabeth, at a very difficult time in her own pregnancy, a time where she could have easily been shamed and left behind by Joseph. She could have hidden herself. Her willingness to charitably support her cousin led her to an experience that would confirm the angel’s message and calm her fears, and the verification that she indeed was carrying the Savior.
If we wonder why there is not more about Mary in the Scripture, there are many speculations, but one is that the most important things she did are revealed to us. We may be quite curious to know more about her, but the interactions recorded in the Bible are lesson enough for us.
Br. Alexis Bugnolo in Franciscanum, the official blog of the Franciscan Archive gives us a list of ways to put our good works ideas to the “test” for humility.
1. Does it stir up our pride or vanity?
2. Will its accomplishment require us to neglect the other duties of our life?
3. Will its fulfillment put us in the way of those sins to which our nature draws us most easily?
4. Will the works bring the conversion to the ignorant and/or consolation of spirit to the faithful?
5. Do the works increase our virtue and lead us to hear God’s true call to other work to be done for Him?
If what you are longing to do can pass these tests and you have been brought to them by prayer and sacrifice in order to see clearly, forge ahead!
If you are having difficulty in discernment, seek the advice of your pastor or a spiritual director.
I hope this is a help in your path to holiness. Be blessed as we enter into the Lenten season.