Friday, June 8, 2012

A Gift and a Task

The point [of the Church’s Marian doctrines]… is not to spread static mysteries before our astonished gaze, but to give an account of the historical dynamism of salvation, which includes us and assigns us our place in history as both a gift and a task. Mary is not ensconced merely in the past or merely in heaven, God’s preserve. She is, and remains, present and active in this hour of history... her life is not only behind us, nor is it only above us. She goes before us… Mariology therefore becomes a theology of history and an imperative to action.

Mary, the Church at the Source, 46

Reflection – Today in Madonna House is a very special day. June 8 is the anniversary of the blessing of the statue of Our Lady of Combermere, the patroness of our MH vocation. It is also Promises Day, when those joining our community and those in temporary commitment to it make and renew their promises of poverty, chastity, and obedience to God in this family.

And so, in a few short hours, two young women and a man will stand up and say “For the glory of God, and because I desire to respond to the call of Christ to preach the Gospel with my life, I, N., promise with the help of Our Lady to live in poverty, chastity, and obedience for one year according to the Madonna House spirit and mandate.” Eleven others, here and in our mission houses, will renew their promises for two years, and finally two women will stand up and make these same promises, not for one or two years, but forever.

Being assigned our place in history as a gift and a task, a theology of history and an imperative to action – that’s what these young men and women are embracing ‘with the help of Our Lady.’ It’s what she embraced, after all. From her Immaculate Conception, where by God’s grace she had no other element in her person except to receive and respond to the God’s grace to the Annunciation where she made her final promises to Him, to the living out of this in long hidden years of service, symbolized in a sense by the Visitation and her service to Elizabeth there, to the consummation of her life’s offering as she stood at the foot of the cross of her Son, to the final glorification in her Assumption and Enthronement in heaven—Mary’s whole life was caught up in the dynamism and saving action of God, and she had no other life than to be part of this divine action in the world.

And so it is with us—all of us who are baptized. God calls some of us to make these special public acts of consecration, to pledge ourselves in solemn ceremony to poverty, chastity, and obedience, and to live out these strange funny lives that look different from other people’s lives. But everyone is called to do what Mary did. All are called to abandon themselves to the divine action and plan for the world, and to give their little bit of life to this plan as a gift and a task.

We consecrated ones stand as a visible reminder, a living parable if you will, to all the baptized to remind you of your own consecration to Him. We may be fairly shabby parables at times, may not always be ourselves so wonderfully given over to God’s will and plan, but that is nonetheless our call.

So if you’re reading this today (or even tomorrow!) say a little prayer for those three young people embarking on this beautiful but rather daunting adventure with God, for the eleven who are in the early years of that adventure, and for the two who pledge themselves so beautifully and whole-heartedly to God forever today.

And if you are a young person wondering if God may be calling you to do something wild and crazy with your life, to throw in your lot with Jesus in a particular way, why don’t you come out to Madonna House and see how we do it? It may or not be for you, but MH is nonetheless a good place to meet God and find out what He wants for you.

Mary found out what God wanted of her, did it, and is enthroned as queen of heaven and earth. So we learn from her that to abandon your life to God and have no other life whatsoever is a path, not to degradation and misery, humiliation and impoverishment, but to glory, beauty, joy, peace, and life to the full, forever. So we can take a chance on this God, and ‘with the help of Our Lady’ promise to follow Him to the end.

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