Mary, Our Model of Spirituality is Formed by Jesus
St. Augustine’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Breathe in me O Holy Spirit that my thoughts may all be holy;
Act in me O Holy Spirit that my works, too, may be holy;
Draw my heart O Holy Spirit that I love but what is holy;
Strengthen me O Holy Spirit to defend all that is holy;
Guard me then O Holy Spirit that I always may be holy.
Reading: Luke 2:41-52
Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.
As devout Jews, the Holy Family makes the Passover pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but Mary and Joseph lose track of Jesus on the way home. Mary’s heart sinks when she finds the Boy in dialogue with the religious teachers; she wonders whether this is the time He must leave home to begin His ministry—and she knows she must let Him go. She does not grasp His answer about His “Father’s house.” But she accepts the guidance of her Son and returns home, keeping the event in her memory and pondering it in her heart.
Three times in the Infancy Narrative of Luke, Mary is said to reflect on the events in Jesus’ life: the Nativity, the Presentation, the Finding in the Temple. Mary is presented to us as the model of the Church’s prayer life, and of living by the instruction of Jesus. After the pattern of Mary the Church reflects on her Head and cherishes what Jesus said and did. After His being found in the Temple, Jesus is said to grow in wisdom and grace and age. It is obvious that Mary also grew spiritually throughout her life. No doubt Mary taught her Son how to be a more effective person on the human level, how to relate with women in His ministry, how to express feelings of mercy and tenderness and compassion. Jesus in turn taught her as His chief disciple how to understand the Jewish Testament about His own life’s work, so that she was fully prepared to surrender her mother’s rights, “let go” of Him, and even enter the mystery of the passion at His side. Thus God involved Mary in His design, His “secret plan” hidden for ages, but revealed in Christ in the fullness of time. We, too, are called to search out God’s plan and Mary’s share in that mystery of salvation. We do not choose her as mother or queen; God has already chosen her. We are simply the beneficiaries of the gift of Mary’s presence in the Church and in individual souls. By our total consecration, what begins in our lives as obedience to God’s inspiration ends with joy and peace that we have made such a commitment!
The Words of St. Maximilian
(Journal reflection: “The Immaculate is Yours—You are Hers,” August 1940)
You are hers, so let yourself be guided by the Immaculata.
1. Feel sure that she permits whatever does not depend on your will for your own good, even if it arises from another evil will. She is the one who wants this to happen to you.
2. Meet a difficulty: a) by not paying attention to it as long as it neither helps nor hinders you in achieving your aim of drawing closer to her, of loving her, Jesus, and the Father, b) by making use of this circumstance—going along with it—if it can help you, or c) by opposing it, if it is an impediment to you. She wants you to act in this way.
3. In what religious obedience prescribes, her will, that of her Son, and that of the Father is obvious. Hence it must be infinitely wise, prudent, powerful and good, even if by the light of your reason you are not able to realize this, since your mind is limited and fallible.
4. By putting her will into practice you show genuine, substantial love for her, for Jesus and for the Father. You become holy.
5. Whatever the Father wills, the Son and the Holy Spirit will likewise. Jesus and the Immaculata will it, too; their wills never contradict each other.
6. In those matters where neither necessity nor obedience decides, act as you wish, seeking to please her. “Love, and do what you will,” as St. Augustine said.
7. Keep your conscience pure; be careful not to fall. But if you do fall, hasten to rise again.
8. She will keep you from falling if you place your trust in her, not relying at all on yourself—if you do on your part what you can, not to fall, with her help.
9. The reason for a fall is over-confidence in one’s own strength. The truth is that by ourselves we are nothing and can do nothing. Without her, the Mediatrix of Grace, we cannot keep from falling.
10. If you do fall, offer yourself to her right away, with the whole sorry business of your fall, and beg for pardon. “Dearest ‘Mom,’ pardon me, and ask Jesus to pardon me, too.” Try to perform your next action in such a way as to give the greatest possible joy to her and to Jesus. Be sure that this act of love will completely wipe out your fault. In your next confession accuse yourself of that fault—but she, Jesus and the Father will already have forgotten it.
11. Love with your whole being, your whole will, your whole heart. But if you feel yourself dry and cannot elicit feelings of love, do not be concerned; this does not belong to the essence of love. If your will desires only to accomplish her will, be at peace, for you truly love her, Jesus and the Father.
12. Do not forget that holiness consists not in extraordinary actions, but in performing well your duties toward God, yourself and others.
13. No one, and not even the holiest state of life, can guarantee that you will sanctify your soul if you neglect the duties proper to that state. Try to discover in these duties the certain will of the Immaculata. By fulfilling this you will demonstrate your love for her and in and through her for Jesus and the Father. Indeed, prayer, penance, and other works, even though good in themselves, are of no value in her eyes if they hinder you in the proper carrying out of your duties. In these alone you find her will.
14. You can, without hesitation, use expressions like “I desire to fulfill the Immaculata’s will,” “May the Immaculata’s will be done,” “The Immaculata wanted it this way,” because she wills what Jesus wills, as Jesus wills what his Father wills. Thus her will differs in no way from that of her Son and of the Father.
Indeed, the very act of yielding yourself unreservedly to her will not only shows that you love the will of God, but also proclaims the truth that her will is so perfect that it deviates in nothing from the will of God. Thus you will give glory to God the Father and the Son, both for creating a creature as perfect as she is and for having made her his own mother.
Sub Tuum Praesidium Prayer
We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.
Miraculous Medal Prayer
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you, and for all who do not have recourse to you, especially the enemies of the Church and all those recommended to you.