Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

A reflection on the virtues of Mary

By FATHER JOHN KIERAN, Commentary | Published January 7, 2016

Mary, our Blessed Mother, can be called the Quiet Woman of Scripture. Mary speaks only a few times in the sacred pages. But through these texts we can enter the mind and spirituality of Mary, our mother and model.

Marian statue at Our Lady of Mercy High School, Fayetteville. Photo By Michael Alexander

Marian statue at Our Lady of Mercy High School, Fayetteville. Photo By Michael Alexander

St. Luke states that Mary, the quiet one, retained a record of all God’s doings, by treasuring these events in her heart. I quote: “She kept all these things in memory” (Lk 2:51).

Our duty as children of Mary is to enter the mind and thinking of our Blessed Mother. By using the few pertinent Scriptures and the Church’s interpretation, we can increase our love and understanding for her, whom St. John Paul called our “mediation for intercession.”

I want to reflect on three crucial Scriptures related to Mary. Each one is well known and often used to explore the mind of Mary—and thus honor her the more.

Our goal is to let Mary’s song and Mary’s spirituality become our song and our spirituality.

First, at the Annunciation (Lk 1:38), Mary responds to the angel of God: “Be it done to me according to your will.” That is, let God’s will be done!

In the second Scripture (Lk 2:48) is the scene called the Finding in the Temple. Mary and Joseph, his upset parents, find Jesus, who has been lost for three days, and say: “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been searching for you in sorrow!”

The third instance is the wedding miracle at Cana. There, Mary says to the wedding group: “Do whatever Jesus tells you” (Jn 2:5).

God’s will               

When Mary said, “I am the servant of the Lord, let his will be done in me,” she made a lifelong, permanent, promise of fealty to God. Thereafter, her life and doings were totally obedient to God’s call.

From the beginning Mary never faltered to be the Christ Bearer and model for the Church:

She evangelized with Jesus in Galilee. She witnessed the Passion and death of her son. She stood at the foot of the cross and accepted her role as the mother of all Christians (Jn 19:26). She was present with the Church gathered after the Ascension (Acts 1:14).

Mary’s super virtue is her total obedience to God’s will.

Mary as parent                

Parents can easily identify with Joseph and Mary the day they lost their teenager, Jesus. Parents know the agony in searching for a child who has strayed. When Joseph and Mary found Jesus after a three-day search, they were upset and frustrated. They corrected their child, as parents are supposed to do. Joseph and Mary were good parents. They gave Jesus his due freedom.

Mary excelled in the virtue of childrearing. She applied the Scriptures of her time to fulfill her maternal vocation, as in Proverbs 22:6, which says, “Train a boy the way he should go.”

Leading others to Jesus                                               

We all know the wedding story from the second chapter of John. There was a wedding … the wine ran out, and Jesus miraculously turned jars of water into excellent wine. In the story, the host first went to Mary, but she deferred to Jesus, saying, “Do whatever he tells you.”

In those simple words Mary verified her role as the one who leads others to Jesus—do whatever he tells you. Obey my Son, she says, he is the divine Son of God, our Savior.

She said, he is the one and only intercessor between God and Man. He is my Savior and your Savior.

Mary’s great legacy lies in calling the world to faith in Jesus. From generation to generation she evangelizes saying, do whatever Jesus tells you. That is why Pope Paul VI called Mary the Star of Evangelization.

Mary’s essential virtues

Among Mary’s essential virtues were her total, complete and eternal commitment to do God’s will. Her renowned response, “Let it be done to me according to his will,” is continually on her lips.

Mary’s essential vocational calling is her fidelity to family and living the call to motherhood. She loved, honored and served Joseph and Jesus in the home at Nazareth and beyond. She is our mother and model, for all families, through all generations.

Her essential virtue in the Church today is her evangelizing for Jesus. She is actively leading us to encounter Jesus, and obey his commands. The Star of Evangelization says, “Do whatever he tells you to do.”

When Mary went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, she was greeted in this way: “How honored am I that you, Mary, should come to my place … your very presence, Mary, is transforming!”

How honored we are to be the Church today. To have Mary with us … to know Mary … and pray with Mary.

May we imitate her virtues of obedience to God’s calling, union with others in the body of the Church, and be an active witness for Jesus wherever we go.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Father John Kieran, a senior priest of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, retired as pastor of St. Pius X Church in Conyers in 2013 at the age of 76 and has been pastor in a number of other communities, including Dalton, LaGrange and Warm Springs, Jonesboro and Lithonia.