The Modesty of Mary – Part 1 of 2

The hidden life of Mary possesses a characteristic that distinguishes it from that of Jesus. We do not find in Mary that humility which astonishes and confounds, that mingling of power and weakness of greatness and obedience, which we admire in the life of Jesus. The life of Mary is always equal, always simple and hidden; it is the reign of sweet and humble modesty. Modesty formed the characteristic of her piety, of her virtues, and of all her actions.

I. Mary was modest in her exterior. She was distinguished neither by the severity of her deportment, nor by an affected carelessness. Humble and sweet like the spirit of Jesus, all that she had in her use spoke of her lowly condition, and in no way distinguished her from the women of her rank. We, too, ought to bear the insignia of lowliness, neither too much nor too little, if we wish to resemble our Mother in her life.

II. Mary was modest in the world. She eagerly sacrificed her privacy and the sweetness of contemplation, in order to go to her cousin Elizabeth, to felicitate her and to serve her. For three months she was her companion, her humble servant, making the happiness of that privileged household. When her Son’s glory demanded it, Mary appeared in public. She assisted at the wedding at Cana. She spoke no word in her own praise, nor did she bring forward her title of Mother of God, nor the power and glory of her Son, in order to rise in the esteem of men. Her modesty was such that she lent her self to the call of charity, and withdrew when she was no longer needed.

III. Mary was modest in her duties. She fulfilled them with sweetness, without eagerness, always satisfied whatever might happen, always ready for a new duty. She discharged all with such equality of humor that she never gave evidence of chagrin, nor asked for any consolation. She never attracted the attention of any one, because everything about her was natural and ordinary.

IV. Mary was modest in her piety. Mary, raised to the highest degree of prayer to which any creature can attain, lived in the habitual exercise of perfect love, exalted above all the angels, and forming, by her dignity of Mother of God, an order apart in the wonders of God. She served her Lord, nevertheless, in the common and ordinary way of piety. She followed the prescriptions of the Law, she assisted at the legal feasts, she prayed with the multitude.

Such ought to be our piety. Nothing conspicuous in its practices, simple in its means, and modest in its action, care fully shunning singularity, the subtle fruit of self-love, and everything extraordinary as too subject to vanity and illusion.

Text from Father Eymard’s Month of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament (New York: Sentinel Press, 1903).

To be continued next Saturday . . .

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