What We Can Learn From Mary

On the Cross, Jesus gave Mary to us as our mother, and so we honor her and love her as a mother. But sometimes it can be difficult to relate to Mary. What can we learn from someone who was conceived without original sin?

Fr. Peter Armenio stopped by The Inner Life® to share how we can actually relate to Mary, and learn from her life.

“We have a lot to learn, and there was a powerful reason the Second Vatican Council’s principal document devoted a whole chapter to Mary, making the strong case that she is the model disciple in following Jesus Christ,” Fr. Armenio said. “Obviously Mary is the Mother of God, and that is a singular prerogative of Our Lady … but she was born a disciple. She began as a disciple by her actions and by her attitude.”

Fr. Armenio then shared three things that we can learn from Mary that will help us grow in holiness.

Extraordinary Love in Everyday Life
Right now she’s Queen of Heaven and Earth. Rightfully so. But if she went to the grocery store 2,000 years ago, her spiritual perfection was well hidden underneath the shawl, the container of water or oil she was balancing, her humble demeanor, being a village girl.

I think we see the tremendous value of being a disciple with Christ, amid the most mundane activities. And as the Holy Father was saying in his recent exhortation on holiness, we all need to express extraordinary love amid very ordinary activities and ordinary situations. And that marked her life. Barring the five Joyful Mysteries, her whole life was very ordinary.

Perseverance in Suffering
No one suffered as she did, and she had to wait 33 years for these Old Testament prophecies to come true. She was warned 40 days after Jesus was born that a sword would pierce her heart.

Now, this is not a dogmatic teaching of the Church, but she had a keen understanding of the Old Testament and she didn’t have original sin, so her mind was very keen. And she knew that the mother of the savior would be the mother of a suffering servant. The Passion of Jesus was spelled out thousands of years before Christ was born, in the prophecies of Isaiah. She had to persevere under those conditions.

Aggressive Charity
We see in her an aggressive charity. Women didn’t travel more than 5 miles away well accompanied. And hardly has she heard that she is the mother of God, the virgin predicted by Isaiah, that she just bolts over to visit Elizabeth and hangs out there for three months, serving and doing menial tasks. So we see her serve. Her first act is to serve the needs of Elizabeth.

We see she’s not a wilting lily. She’s at a wedding reception – and these receptions lasted for seven days – and what does she do?  She leaned on her Son, broke His plans as it were, because His hour had not yet come. And this very down-to-earth act of charity is so consoling.

Ultimately, another aggressive act of charity is being at the Cross with her Son. The spiritual writers say that her suffering was, at a certain sense, at the same level as Our Lord in terms of identification and compassion.

And so, we see a number of qualities that we certainly can imitate. Her life itself was such a model for discipleship. And thank God – barring certain events – it was ordinary.

Listen to the full reflection below:

The Inner Life airs weekdays at noon Eastern/9:00 a.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio® and the Relevant Radio App.

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at relevantradio.com and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.