The Humility of Mary

St. Augustine says, that in order to obtain more certainly and abundantly the favors of the saints, it is necessary to imitate them, for when they see us practising the virtues which they practised, then they are more moved to pray for us. . . . Let the child then endeavor, concludes St. Bernard, to imitate the mother, if he desires her favor; for when Mary sees that he honors her as a mother she will treat and favor him as a child.

St. Thomas says, whereas the other saints have excelled, each in some one particular virtue, the blessed Virgin has excelled in all, and in all the virtues has been given us for an example.

Because, as the holy Fathers teach, humility is the foundation of all the virtues, let us in the first place consider how great was the humility of the mother of God.

Humility, says St. Bernard, is the foundation and guardian of the virtues; and with reason, for without humility a soul can possess no other virtue. Let her possess all the virtues, they will all depart when humility departs. . . . The Son of God himself came on earth to teach it by his example, and he desired that in this we should especially strive to imitate him: “Learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart.” And Mary, as she was the first and most perfect disciple of Jesus Christ in all the virtues, was so in that of humility, by which she merited to be exalted above all creatures.

The first act of humility of heart is to have an humble opinion of ourselves; and Mary always thought so lowly of herself.

The more she saw herself enriched, the more humble she became, remembering that all was the gift of God.

Mary did not refuse to go and serve Elizabeth for three months.

Mary, when her Son was preaching in a certain house, as St. Matthew relates, wished to speak with him, but would not enter the house unbidden.

At the time of the death of her Son, she did not shrink from appearing in public on Calvary, through fear of the disgrace of being known as the mother of one who was condemned as a criminal to die by an infamous death.

It is not to be doubted, as St. Gregory of Nyssa says, that for our nature, corrupted by sin, there is perhaps no virtue more difficult to practise than humility. But there is no escape; we can never be true children of Mary if we are not humble.

Text from St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1888).

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