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SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

Our Lady of Nazareth

January 12, 2015 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Mary, Meditations: Seasonal, The Prince of Peace

OUR LADY OF NAZARETH

“And His Mother kept all these words in her heart.”
Luke 2:51

1. Scholars consider themselves amply justified in concluding that the evidence for these first two chapters of St. Luke have been drawn from Our Lady's own lips, and are even the very words of Our Lady herself; and the repeated statement that she “kept all these words in her heart,” is taken as signifying that St. Luke took the narrative from her. She was a soul of not many words. Wherever we meet her, except on one occasion, she does little more than stand by and look on; when she does speak it is in the full and measured words of one who has an instinct to keep silence rather than to express herself at all.

2. On the other hand, the one occasion on which, as it were, she lets herself speak from her full heart, shows both the matter and the depth of her meditation. The Magnificat teems with Scripture references. No one could have uttered that wonderful prayer who had not

  • (1) pondered long on the words of Holy Scripture,
  • (2) seen their application to and fulfillment in the Messiah,
  • (3) led her thoughts on from the consequences of His coming to the whole world.

The same is seen in the Angel's words at the Annunciation; he is speaking to one who, he knows, thinks along this definite line. This, then, we may safely take it, is Our Lady's “method” of meditation; from Scripture to our Lord, from our Lord to men, with herself affected by the conclusion as the “Handmaid of the Lord.” God promised, God redeemed, God spread the fruits of the redemption among men; and so long as this was done all was done. From this her “practical conclusion” was easily drawn; it was that she should dispose herself to be used by Him in whatever way He chose for this end, as His simple “Handmaid.”

3. Hence when later we find her saying of herself that she “kept all these words, pondering them in her heart,” we have little difficulty in following her mind. She took each scene in her Child's life as it opened out before her; she gathered up every word that was spoken concerning Him. In each event she saw the guiding and redeeming hand of God; in every word she heard the echo of the voice of God. Both alike she interpreted in the light of her Son, seeing in them greater significance because He was the central figure, knowing that because of Him everything had its meaning, its purpose, its power, its lesson. The question: “Why hast thou done so?” was not once only, but continually in her heart. And for answer, as we see unmistakably in the Magnificat, she looked beyond the ages, and reflected on the fruit all this would bear to all mankind; the good tidings of great joy that it would be to all the people, so that all generations would bless the Lord for blessing her; the thoughts that out of many hearts would be revealed, making her agony, whatever it might be, worthwhile; the numbers that would give up all, and would set about their Father's business, just because her Son had said the word, and given the example, in giving up even her, His dearly loved Mother.

Summary Meditation Points:

  1. Our Lady is a soul of few words.
  2. But a soul of much meditation; and the matter and manner of her meditations are not difficult to discover. “To restore all things in Christ,” might be given as their common title.
  3. Hence one may easily estimate what it was she kept in her heart.

 

 Archbishop Alban Goodier SJ (1)Editor’s Note: This meditation is from Archbishop Alban Goodier’s “The Prince of Peace” (1913).

Art: Virgin of the Deliverance, Auguste Antoine Ernest Hébert, between 1872 and 1886, PD-Worldwide, Wikimedia Commons. Archbishop Alban Goodier, S.J., www.stmaryscadoganstreet.co.uk, all rights reserved, used with permission.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • marybernadette

    I pray that every Christian that does not realize the wonderful Mother Of God who has been given to all mankind, will be given the Grace to accept love and honour her as such! We cannot truly Honour Our Lord without honouring His and our Mother! Amen!

  • TomH

    Some thoughts on an aspect of the Annunciation that interests me spiritually regarding the Angel Gabriel’s message to Mary and her response. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob made her an “offer”, through His heavenly messenger, that was unique in all of history. As a devout Jew she believed in God’s revelation to Abraham with all her heart, but that does not tell us
    how or why Mary handled herself and God’s messenger the way she did. Here she is a very young orthodox Jewish girl, not much more than a child. Perhaps 14 years old? How does she reconcile her “concerns” – And when she heard, “she was troubled at his saying…”, Luke 1, 29 with her “fiat” “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy Word.” Luke 1, 38
    Her concerns are ordinary, perfectly understandable. We can all relate to them. But with one difference which I’ll address below. Her great humility leads her to acknowledge to Gabriel that she does not know how any of this is possible. So even though she was conceived without original sin that did not dispense, by God’s design, with the ordinary limitations of self knowledge and the world that all of us are stuck with. Today, unfortunately, self knowledge is pretty much reduced to depth psychology and scientific materialism which only scratch the surface. And it’s a pretty bleak picture indeed, if we have to do without the church’s great spiritual understanding of what really “makes us tick”.

    In my limited understanding of this great mystery of our faith, the Annunciation, having been conceived without original sin, her hidden personhood(I assume hidden because she received the beatific vision only at the moment of her assumption into heaven. And that there is no reason to expect that she had any great self understanding of her soul and personhood). If this is true, it is remarkable that God who gave her spiritual gifts that surpassed those given to all others historically chose to complete her enlightenment at the end of her earthly life. Thus, her self understanding happened gradually, starting with the Annunciation, to her Son’s passion, and finally at her assumption, the beatific vision, which completed the story of her life’s spiritual journey.
    Why is her response of confusion different from that of what any other person’s would be? It’s because of the fact of original sin? Mary, from her birth to her assumption lived from her deepest heart. For the rest of us, given original sin, it’s always a struggle to remain close to God, and in our spiritual helplessness we can do nothing without supernatural grace, She is never detached or distant or abstract in her relationship with her God. Her soul is in the deepest union with God. No matter what her daily concerns are, – worry, hopes, fears, her union is fixed forever. Her deepest heart has no place for abstract knowledge, subject/object understanding, even though she needed that to function in her society and in the world. Period! She’s not skeptical, and gives no indication that she doubts the evidence of her senses and intellect. She doesn’t say “I have to think about it.” or “gee this is too much to handle.” or ” I have to see what Joseph thinks.” This is God’s will for her. This decision, and her will is still free, is between her and God alone. Because this is a sacred event which separates her from the fallen world of sin and sinners. God’s will is her will, so to speak. If I say Mary was “compelled” to accept her role in the Incarnation, that denies her free will. If I say she could have said “no” to God that denies God’s sovereign will. I have no hesitation in accepting what the church teaches regarding “efficacious” grace, in this regard, even though it seems to contradict my reason. And I also claim that, like Pope Benedict emeritus, who proclaimed to an unbelieving world that there is no conflict between faith and reason, since all truth comes from God.

  • Philip George Regan

    Holy Virgin Mother of the Precious Blood – Pray for my Mother who suffers from Illness – for my Family who are lapsed – I ask this though your Son Our Lord jesus Christ – Show you are a Mother to my Mother oh Blessed Mother of us all ! Amen

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