This past Advent we watched Mary of Nazareth. I’ve seen this movie several times but this time something different struck me that I had never paid attention to before. In one scene, Mary and St. Anne are having a discussion, and St. Anne suggests to Mary that maybe if they move to another town, Mary could find a man who would be willing to care for her and Jesus, since Joseph no longer desires to marry her. Mary admits that this is a good idea, but in her simplicity and trust in God she responds that the Angel Gabriel only told her to do two things: to name her child Jesus and to rejoice. As I began to reflect on this I found a message that not only spoke to Mary, but could speak to me as well. I realized that I often make my spiritual life more complicated than it needs to be when, in reality, I only need to focus on two things and that everything else would flow naturally from them. These two things are essentially exactly what Gabriel said to Mary: to focus on Jesus (through striving to love Him in all of my activities throughout each day and in my interactions with others) and to choose to be joyful within this, even if that isn’t the primary emotion that I’m feeling. Over the past couple months I have found that reflecting on how I’ve lived out these things each day is a beautiful examination of conscience.
Recently, while reading With Empty Hands by Conrad de Meester, OCD, an analysis and reflection on the development of the spirituality of St. Thèrése of Lisieux, my understanding of the first part of the message has deepened even more. By living out her “little way” of spiritual childhood, St. Thèrése doesn’t look so much at how much she loves Jesus, but how much He loves her throughout each day of her life. Every good deed that she did she considered as Jesus simply working through her, Him loving her so that she would be able to love in return. Looking at it in this way, I am given even more confidence in striving to live a virtuous life since I know that it is solely Him working through me—I just need to be docile to the graces that He desires to give me.
All of this finds its culmination in the Eucharist. Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap., preacher to the papal household, says that in the Eucharist “Christ also ‘receives’ our body and blood . . . if you experience something He experiences it too . . . thanks to the spousal communion at Mass . . . our humanity becomes Christ’s humanity.” The closer we are to our Eucharistic Lord the more He is able to love through us and this is a cause for rejoicing. In imitation of Mary and through her intercession we are called to live a life of adoration that fosters the life of Christ within us, a life that brings the joy of Christ to others and shares in her Magnificat.
~ Miss Alexis