Deacon Keith A Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC
And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her. St. Luke 1:38
In these few words, all of human history was forever changed. They came from a deep reservoir within, from the "heart" of this simple, young Jewish woman who was in love with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Mary was "holy." She shows us the way to become holy as well.
"Heart" in the Semitic and biblical world view is a word that means much more than the fleshy organ at the center of our chest cavity. It refers to the very center of a man or woman - that place where their deepest identity is rooted and from which their fundamental choices about life are made.
These words proceeded from a humble and honest self assessment. It was this humility, this 'selflessness" that led Mary to a complete surrender of herself in love to Love. She gave herself away as a gift to the God who had given Himself to her. What an exchange! Her surrender reveals the very meaning of holiness. It is not about looking "pious" but being self-less.
In the original languages "holiness" means being "set aside", or "consecrated", totally given over to God. Mary was and is holy. We need to "unpack" the depth of the meaning of these words if we hope to both understand and to stand in them. Only then can our own personal histories be changed. We can become "holy" by opening our lives to the One who is the source of all holiness and saying "Yes" to his invitation to love.
This call to embrace the "Fiat" of Mary and make it our own is not another "formula" or a new multi-step "how to" promise of "solutions" to the problems of life. It is not the answer to a riddle or the meaning behind some mystery. Rather it is a path, a way that leads to living a life of surrendered love.
It leads along a journey to a deepening process of conversion. When we embrace this way we allow the "Love" that Mary bore to be incarnated in and through each of us. This process is the way of "holiness" and is the essence, fruit and meaning of living the Prayer of Mary. It is a path to true peace. Every single man and woman alive today is invited to pronounce -with their entire being- the "Fiat" of surrendered love.
This "Fiat" is the beginning of a relationship of participation in the very life of the God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The author of the theologically rich New Testament letter to the Hebrews tells us that Mary's Son, Jesus Christ, is able to understand us because He became one of us:
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin" (Hebrews 4:15)
The Christian claim is that the Eternal Word, coexistent with the Father and the Spirit in the perfect unity that is Trinitarian Love, became a real man in time and history. He did so first within the womb of a thirteen year old Virgin who said "Fiat" - and then, through her, He became manifested to the nations.
As a pre-born child, He sanctified all mother's wombs by dwelling within the first temple, the new Ark of the New Covenant, the womb of His beloved self-chosen mother named Mary. How this wondrous reality, the Incarnation, reveals the very essence and end of prayer if we begin to comprehend it in all of its wonder -what the ancient Christians called its "mystery."
In the call to a life of prayer we are invited in to this mystery of participation in the very life of God, which the Apostle Peter referred to when he wrote to the early Christians that we "participate in His divine nature..." (2 Peter 1:4)
Here, in a life of prayer and surrendered love is where we find our deepest identity through our participation in the very life of the God, who made us, redeems us and transforms us by His continual grace at work within, around and through us! It is here that we become "holy" by touching the very source of holiness.
This life of conversion begins and begins again when we say "Fiat" with our words and our deeds. This dynamic way of living a surrendered life comes as the fruit of understanding, praying and living the Prayer of Mary. We decrease and He increases. We then find ourselves in Him, made new and completed.
A contemporary best selling book on prayer promises to help the reader understand how to expand their own "tent-pegs." Though inspiring, it seems to focus on self fulfillment. That may be a helpful beginning, but only if it truly assists us in expanding our personal capacity to understand that there truly is a God who can, does and will act in our very real, human daily experiences if we have a genuine relationship, a dialogue, with Him. He certainly wants us to live life to the full! However, we are called to selflessness. Precisely because we were made for Him, we find our fulfillment. However, it is a fruit and not a goal.
The pattern of prayer and life offered by this contemporary book it is only a beginning, a foreword or prologue at best to the spiritual life! After all, this way of life is not really about expanding our tent pegs at all, it is about Him establishing His dwelling-place among us and within us. We, like Mary, are to become the very "tent" wherein He comes to dwell and through which His glory is revealed to the world.
Seeing prayer as a way to expand our own territory is something like trying to learn to swim in a backyard wading pool. It is only a start. The Prayer of Mary teaches us to swim in the ocean of life, with all of its undertows, by helping us to grasp deeper truths concerning spirituality, the very purpose of prayer and the path to living a meaningful life.
When we walk in Mary's way, we begin to understand that we are all invited to become the very tent and the ark within which that same God who became incarnate within her still takes up His residence, still comes to dwell, in all men and women who say "Yes" and live the surrendered life of love.
The Prayer of Mary is an INVITATION to participate in the ongoing INCARNATION of God's Love in and through our own lives. In living a surrendered life we also participate in the MEDIATION of that love to others. The ongoing creative and redemptive work of God's love continues through us.
When we begin to live this way we not only find ourselves transformed but we learn how to become the very vehicles through which Love is incarnated for all those around us. We, like Mary, can be "Holy" - because we carry within us and reveal for all to encounter- the source of holiness Himself.
This article is adapted from a forthcoming Book by Deacon Fournier entitled, "The Prayer of Mary: Living a Surrendered Life"
Rev. Mr. Keith A Fournier, the founder and president of "Common Good", is a constitutional lawyer. He is a pro-life and pro-family lobbyist. He was the first Executive Director of the ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice). He also served as an advisor to the presidential campaign of Steve Forbes. Fournier holds a Bachelors degree (B.A.) from Franciscan University of Steubenville in Philosophy and Theology, a Masters Degree (M.T.S.) in Sacred Theology from the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University, a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the University of Pittsburgh and an Honorary Doctor of Laws (L.L.D.) from St. Thomas University. Fournier is the author of seven books on issues concerning life, faith, evangelization, ecumenism, family, political participation, public policy and cultural issues. He is a features editor for Catholic Online and the Co-Director of "Your Catholic Voice"
http://www.commongoodonline.com VA, US
Deacon Keith Fournier - Founder, President, 757 546-9580
Holiness and Mary
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