Approach the Mother of God with Confidence Every Day
"'Mary said, "Joseph, listen to my heart." Joseph listened for a moment and then called me. As I leaned toward Mary I heard the most beautiful music. I was speechless! 'Mary said, "I’ve known for quite a while that when I hear this the hour of the Messiah’s birth is near." The stable was suddenly filled with Heaven’s transcending light. There before her stood Michael, the Archangel. His greeting to her was, “Fear not, Mary. I have come to be with you until Christ is born. The angels are already assembling to honor His birth and to be the first to sing His praises in His holy Humanity as He begins His sojourn on earth.” In that ecstasy of joy where the human senses are as though dead, and the spirit races to God, Mary was suddenly encased in a tremulous and unspeakably bright light. That light, rising through her as a tower of ivory into the heavens as seen by the spiritual eye, was too bright even for the gaze of the angels, who hid themselves outside the sanctuary of God’s mother. Michael was the only one who dared approach her. He seemed to walk into this heavenly mist and lifted from it the Christ Child as if he were lifting Him from a cradle. Tenderly he caressed the Infant God as he carried Him to the manger. He placed Him inside, and kneeling to adore Him he called Mary. In perfect obedience she arose from her divine ecstasy, and after walking to the manger knelt beside Michael in adoration. Then she picked up the little Jesus and kissed His sleeping eyelids, which fluttered and opened slowly to the world. The first thing He saw was the image of His own mother before Him. His baby eyes held fast to her gaze while she laid Him back in the manger of beautiful tapestry padded with straw.’” — The Refugee from Heaven by Cora Evans
In that ecstasy of joy where the human senses are as though dead, and the spirit races to God, Mary was suddenly encased in a tremulous and unspeakably bright light.
“Mary means enlightener, because she brought forth the Light of the world.” ~ St. Isidore of Seville
We need the wonder of Christmas. We need it every year, because our world has become stale and indifferent to “the ecstasy of joy.” As we pursue transient pleasures, particularly numbing our senses with all-things-technology, it’s crucial that we recapture the childlike beauty of seeing Christmas as if for the first time.
From my youth, Advent and Christmas have been my favorite liturgical seasons. I suppose as a child, it was more Christmas than Advent. But as I’ve gotten older, the time of waiting – of anticipation – truly builds that sense of awe that should be experienced every year on Christmas Day.
I have had two pregnancies during Advent, with Sarah and Veronica, and each time I’ve journeyed through the waiting with Our Lady. She has kept my focus on the gift within my womb, which expounded the greatest Gift of all: her Son. It was almost as if I were St. Elizabeth, and we were two women deeply intertwined in history and time, walking and sharing the expectancy of joy.
I think that, regardless of whether or not you have birthed a child, Our Lady is such a beacon of hope to those of us who are wandering this dark world depressed, discouraged, and near despair. She bears within her the Gift of Life, He Who is the Light of the World. This Advent and Christmas, let us ponder with her the beauty of the Gift she is about to bring forth and ask her to accompany us as He is born in our hearts again and again.
“And Mary said: ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.’” (Luke 1: 46-47)
If ever there was an expression of the “ecstasy of joy,” it was in Our Lady’s Magnificat. Can we possibly imagine the euphoria her heart felt in the moment she was overcome by the Holy Spirit? From that instant, she was keenly aware of this Life within her – not just an ordinary human, but the Son of God Himself. He grew in her womb for those precious, protected nine months of gestation, and I’m certain that not one second passed without her awareness of His presence within her.
Shamefully, I am not as elated when I consider the Incarnation, though my heart does make a faint leap of joy within me. Perhaps we can travel with her, praise God as she did – and continues to do – when we are burdened and weary, celebratory or contented. Perhaps we can adopt the Magnificat this season as our prayer, too, the one that reframes what is dismal into goodness and beauty and peace.
All of these virtues must begin within me, not from an external locus of control. Life itself is God’s way of breathing into my soul, renewing it, changing it with every inhale and exhale. Do I appreciate all that I’ve been given? Truly, this gratitude can dramatically transform us if we make a practice of thanking God in every circumstance, ahead of time, and within every uncertainty. Let us begin today.
Michael was the only one who dared approach her.
“Those closest to God in heaven, the seraphim, are called the fiery ones because more than the other angels they take their fervor and ardor from the intense fire of God.” ~ St. Robert Bellarmine
For a short stint of my tween years, I dabbled in the occult, assuming it was just harmless fun. The consequences were dire, however, and led me to unravel the truth about Satan’s deception through dark magic and “party games” like séances and Ouija boards. During high school, I delved more deeply into praying to my guardian angel and St. Michael, especially when I encountered homes or places that made me feel very uneasy.
I learned that the demons tremble when they see Our Lady and St. Michael above all other saints or angels. It is they who are mightiest against the powers of darkness and forces of evil. I imagine that is why St. Michael was the only one who “dared” approach the Blessed Mother. He was permitted to do so, being a Seraphic angel – which is the highest of the nine choirs in heaven – and he is the one who fought the devil with the rhetorical question that his name translates to: “Who is like God?”
The fire of the Seraphim burns the enemy, yes, but it is also the kindling for our souls to be enflamed by God’s love. Does the fire from God ignite the gift of zeal in us, as it did for St. Michael to brazenly approach the Mother of God two millennia ago? It should. This Fire from heaven consumes us, but in so doing, it refines us. It softens us. And it makes us dare to approach her in prayer, in love, as we deepen our relationship with her perhaps through Marian consecration.
This Advent, either begin or renew your Marian consecration, and be like St. Michael: dare to approach her every day.
“At that time there shall arise Michael, the great prince, guardian of your people…” (Daniel 12:1)
My mother gave me a St. Michael chaplet when I was in college, and I learned the prayers quickly and confidently. Every day, I took the beads and invoked the nine choirs of angels, beginning with the Seraphim, then Cherubim, and ending with the Archangels and Angels (e.g., guardians). There was one incident I will never forget, one which I am convinced I received the protection and assistance from both my guardian angel and St. Michael.
One evening, in my days of working as a youth leader, I took a group of teens to the Memorial Coliseum, a large stadium where hockey games, Disney on Ice, and large concerts are held. That particular night, there was a Christian concert that featured about half a dozen brand name musicians and singers, so a few adults chaperoned while I toted everyone around.
About halfway through, I began to feel nauseated. Though I tried to stick it out, I knew I needed to head home early. After checking with the other adults to ensure every teen had a ride home, I hightailed it to the parking lot, which was dimly lit and completely packed.
I searched for my car row after row, praying with increasing desperation as the nausea worsened. It was late at night, and I was alone, presumably without my car. Back then, cars didn’t have automatic locks or any way for me to push a button and look for flashing lights or a horn honking. Nope, I had to just stick it out and find the car on my own.
After about twenty minutes, I got discombobulated. My brain literally got confused. I didn’t know where I parked, not even remotely. And I panicked. Except, I remembered to utter a prayer to St. Michael for protection and my guardian angel to help me find my car. Seconds later, I heard a loud tapping on one of the light posts closest to me. When I turned toward the sound, I saw my car. Instantly, I credited my angelic friends for assisting me.
Ask the angels to guide you. Build a relationship with your special guardian. There’s a reason God selected him to accompany you throughout life. And never forget that when you truly believe you (or someone you love) are in peril, the demons tremble at the invocation of St. Michael’s name.
In perfect obedience she arose from her divine ecstasy…
“It is not hard to obey when we love the one whom we obey.” ~ Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Perfect obedience. These are two words that make me cringe. First of all, as a recovering perfectionist, I always feel immense pressure when I see the word “perfect.” It reminds me of all that I am not, yet wish I were and try to be. And obedience? Well, I’d rather offer everything up than do as I’m told.
For those of us with more feisty temperaments, obedience is incredibly cumbersome. For others, it might not be as difficult to comply with a parent, teacher, boss, or other authority figure. I happen to be among the former group, and despite my attempts at doing what I was told, every act of obedience was riddled with resentment – far from perfect.
Still, I am drawn to perfect obedience, which has as its prerequisite humility of heart. If I pray to become humble, it will necessarily make perfect obedience a more natural response. Practice obedience to those in authority over you on earth, and you will more readily see God’s demands as gentle rather than subjugating.
“Let us learn from the Virgin Mary how to be bolder in obeying the word of God.” ~ Pope Francis
Not only should I reticently obey God out of duty, but I should boldly obey God’s word out of love. The motive changes the attitude, doesn’t it? Again, we can mirror Our Lady’s perfect obedience – bold obedience – to God’s word. I imagine this bold obedience was because she didn’t hesitate to say yes to Him, to do what He asked of her without questioning or doubting it. She simply responded.
We, too, can emulate Our Lady’s obedience. We begin with the same receptivity of heart that she possessed so beautifully. We are at the ready, listening for God’s voice tugging at our hearts. And when He chooses to do so, we respond with a confident yes! At times, we may need further discernment to be sure we are hearing God’s voice amidst so many others (the devil’s and our own being two of them). But to have a pure heart means we have willing heart. We are eager to please God, because we love Him. And that kind of obedience never feels forced or phony.
Pray to Our Lady for a receptive heart, that you may obey God perfectly and boldly as she did, that you may move from duty to devotion.