“Blessed is she who has believed”
- Saint Bernard (1091-1153), Cistercian monk and Doctor of the Church
Sermon for the Octave of the Assumption, on the twelve prerogatives of Mary
Saint Bernard, a Cistercian monk and Doctor of the Church taught us that :”Mary is blessed, as her cousin Elizabeth has said to her, not simply because God has looked on her but because she believed…she in no way doubted herself to be called to this incomprehensible mystery, this tremendous union, this unfathomable secret. And she believed instantly that she was truly about to become the mother of God-made-man.”
Unfathomable secret. Incomprehensible mystery. Tremendous union. How does man begin to internalize the incarnation except with faith and humility? Someone very wise once said, we perceive these mysteries simply as intellectual oddities and often leave faith and God’s grace out of the schema, but without faith it is impossible even to pray or see the results of fervent prayer.
Blessed Advent season is a time to call the mystery of the incarnation into our hearts and to welcome the presence of God into our spirits. Like Mary, the duty of man is to completely surrender to God and in so doing,- man becomes dependent on God’s grace and providence. In other words, like Mary we turn our wills, all our worldly affairs and anxieties of the day over to God- the architect of our lives.
All of life and seems to be enfolded in the mystery of the divine-human relationship, nature and grace, as Father Richard McBrien once said. Mary was a woman of deep faith and abiding prayer. We are called to the same selfless path in the sense that, we must work tirelessly as Christians to do the Father’s will and be willing to become channels of His love in order to really be able to effect change in society.
Just like the Holy Spirit worked through Mary, the Holy Spirit works through us in our outreach to those needing God’s mercy and salvation. In a way, it is also a mysterious process how prayer, faith and action work together to manifest the glory of God.
Just like Mary, we are given the divine motivation and drive to pursue God’s mission wherever we are. Sadly, we will encounter skeptics on our journey of faith and service to God, and clergy killers as well. We will encounter others who have an abstract notion of God and His presence in our lives. As we draw nearer and nearer to Christ during Advent and Christmas, we begin the process of imitating Him and we find that we can possess like Mary, the purest, noblest qualities such as humility, compassion, wisdom, and we awaken to the truth that we are the vehicles through which God expresses those qualities.