Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

12/20/2008 (5 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. (Lk 1:28)

What came about in bodily form in Mary, the fullness of the godhead shining through Christ in the Blessed Virgin, takes place in a similar way in every soul that has been made pure. The Lord does not come in bodily form, for ‘we no longer know Christ according to the flesh’, but He dwells in us spiritually and the father takes up His abode with Him, the Gospel tells us. In this way the child Jesus is born in each of us. (Gregory of Nyssa)

What came about in bodily form in Mary, the fullness of the godhead shining through Christ in the Blessed Virgin, takes place in a similar way in every soul that has been made pure. The Lord does not come in bodily form, for ‘we no longer know Christ according to the flesh’, but He dwells in us spiritually and the father takes up His abode with Him, the Gospel tells us. In this way the child Jesus is born in each of us. (Gregory of Nyssa)

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

12/20/2008 (5 years ago)

Published in Living Faith


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you (Lk 1:28). These angelic words of greeting recorded in this biblical passage form the opening words of one of the most cherished prayers in Catholic piety referred to as the Hail Mary. In the years that I have served as a Deacon of the Church I have found that these words - and the prayer that they intone are a source of great comfort especially when people are ill, in trouble, or facing death. They bring tremendous comfort to many.

Sacred Scripture tells us that Mary was full of grace, filled with the very life and presence of God. She walked in a deep, abiding and intimate relationship with God. He was with her before she even responded to His invitation. God chose Mary even before Mary chose God. This order is vitally important if we want to grasp the deeper meaning of living the spiritual life ourselves.

We sometimes think that we brought God into our lives. This is hinted at in the use of popular language that, even if well intended, can lead us to believe that we do the initiating and somehow control the relationship. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus made this clear in His words to His disciples You did not choose me, I chose you (St. John 15:16). Sometimes, in our religious subcultures, we actually end up communicating the opposite.

I was raised in a sacramental tradition as a Catholic Christian. My family practiced the faith until a tragedy shook our foundations. Afterward, we remained cultural - but not always practicing - Catholics. This occurred just as I began my turbulent teenage years. Later on, when I returned to the practice of my faith, I felt as if I had come home. I thought that I had found the Lord. In a sense, that was true. However, I would soon come to discover that He had never left me; it was I who had wandered away. It took a while to understand what that meant as His grace unfolded in my daily life.

During that time I discovered a prayer of the great western Church father, Augustine, which he uttered upon his own return to the faith and recorded in his wonderful Confessions:

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.

St. Augustine understood, like Mary and countless men and women throughout the ages, that it is the Lord who reaches out to us in His love. It is the Lord who offers His grace. We are the recipients of that grace, and He fills us according to the capacity that He has built within us. The proper order of initiation and response has profound relevance for us if we truly desire to live the spiritual life. God is already there. He awaits our response to His relentless love and grace, which are both within and all around us.

We can learn this and so many more things from the Biblical visitation of Mary by the angel or messenger of God. Her experience with Gabriel offers other important lessons for our own daily lives. Lets look at a few.

First of all, the story is time specific. The angel came in the sixth month. Angels still come at the specific moment that God chooses to intervene in our lives. The One who sends them does not wear a watch, keep a day-timer, or use a pocket computer. He is outside of time but always on time. He is never early. And He is never late.

The angel came to a specific person, a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph. Angels appear to specific people in the real circumstances of their daily lives, in the midst of their human relationships. The older I get, the more I am able to recognize the angels, or messengers, the Lord sends into my life. They come bearing His message, speaking to my specific circumstances at a specific time of need. The angelic greeting also tells us about our invitation into a relationship with God.

Gabriels greeting was personal. Mary was addressed by her Hebrew name, implying that the God from whom the angel was sent knew Mary personally and had a relationship with her that preceded the visitation. So it is with each one of us. As the Great Hebrew Psalmist David sang, You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb. I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works! My very self you knew; my bones were not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, fashioned as in the depths of the earth. Your eyes foresaw my actions; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be (Psalm 139).

The angel refers to Mary as O highly favored one or, in other translations, full of grace. Mary was indeed favored and full of grace. The Lord of heaven and earth had prepared and chosen her as a fertile ground into which he planted the seed of His Word. Angels still visit those who believe that grace is real and available to them.They still come, bearing Gods message to men and women who are humble enough to open themselves to hear.In a real and substantial way, when we respond to the words of the Lord, we also become filled with grace and He is formed within us. In that sense, we become favored. An early father of the undivided Christian Church, Gregory of Nyssa, once wrote:

What came about in bodily form in Mary, the fullness of the godhead shining through Christ in the Blessed Virgin, takes place in a similar way in every soul that has been made pure. The Lord does not come in bodily form, for we no longer know Christ according to the flesh, but He dwells in us spiritually and the father takes up His abode with Him, the Gospel tells us. In this way the child Jesus is born in each of us

Perhaps the reason the scriptures tell us so little about Mary was because she was meant to serve as a mirror, a reflection, of Some- One who was much more important. It was His grace that filled her. God brings new life to ordinary people who have eyes to see, ears to hear, and pure hearts that are opened to his invitation of love. Like Mary, they become full of grace through their encounter with the Lord.

A profound mystery is made wonderfully simple by Mary of Nazareths witness. She lived a fruitful life, marked by an innocent and childlike spirit. As Jesus said, I thank you Father, Lord of heaven and earth that what you have hidden from the learned and the wise you have revealed to the merest of children (Luke 10:21). His words help us understand that we, too, are to become as little children.

Each of us is now called to become full of grace. The Lord desires to be with us, to live within us in a world that hungers for His lovea love which can be borne in us and offered through us to others. Mary shows us the way. She heard the promise, believed, was filled with grace, and conceived the Lord who is Love incarnate. We can do likewise if we learn to pray, to listen, to hear, to respond, to say Yes.

In doing so we, like Mary, will discover that nothing is impossible with God.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More Living Faith

If Christ Has Not Been Raised Our Preaching and Our Faith is Empty Watch

Image of We too,you and me, will be raised from the dead. Only then will our redemption be complete. We are works in progress. However, that new life can begin even now for those with eyes of living faith, hearts filled with His presence, and minds renewed by the Light of the Truth which Jesus has fully revealed and imparts to those who love and follow Him.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

When we learn to embrace the implications of that empty tomb, and allow grace to work within us, we are made ready for eternity - by living differently every day. The Resurrection provides a framework, a hermeneutic, a lens of meaning, for everything that happens ... continue reading


You Go Into the Vineyard Too! Every Christian Has a Vocation Watch

Image of Priesthood, Diaconate in Christ,consecrated or religious life,lay ecclesial movements, consecrated Christian marriage - every Baptized Christian has a vocation. We just have to learn to live it!

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The Church is a seed, sign and beginning of the kingdom, making the kingdom present in a world which is wounded by the effects of sin but waiting to be born anew. The Lord continues His work through us. We are the workers in His vineyard. It matters little what ... continue reading


Pope Francis at risk of an assassination attempt by Islamic State Watch

Image of There was an assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981 by Turk Mehmet Ali Agca. That Pope later forgave his attacker.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis at risk of an assassination attempt by ISIL'Band of criminals' could have Pope Francis in its sights prior to his visits to Albania, TurkeyCatholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)Iraq's ambassador to the Holy See warns that there are credible threats against ... continue reading


Patriarchs ask faithful to help 'save Christianity in the Middle East' Watch

Image of Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan prayed during an ecumenical service in Washington last week.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Five Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs from the Middle East urged Westerners to take action to help ensure that Christians and other minorities can remain in the region. "Christians are not (just) looking for humanitarian aid. They are looking for humanitarian ... continue reading


With just six months to live, news anchorman finds comfort with God Watch

Image of Dave Benton announced on his Illinois show that he had only six months left to live after a long battle with brain cancer.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An Illinois news anchorman with Champaign WCIA-TV shared heartbreaking news with his viewers on September 11, revealing that after a lengthy battle with cancer, he had only six months to live. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The 51-year-old anchorman, Dave ... continue reading


Did a Catholic Online candle contribute to a miracle? Here's a yes!

Image of Did a prayer candle have a role in a recent miracle?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online has received many comments thanking us for sharing the prayers of the faithful. Catholic Online has a vibrant prayer community and we are happy to report another miracle. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Mika T.* sent an email to Catholic Online ... continue reading


Pope Francis denounces ongoing global conflict as 'piecemeal' World War III Watch

Image of Pope Francis, who has often condemned the concept of war in God's name, said it would be legitimate for the international community to use force to stop

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In his visit to the Redipuglia monument, the resting place of 1000,000 Italian soldiers killed during World War I, Pope Francis condemned ongoing conflicts across the globe. "Humanity needs to weep and this is the time to weep. Even today, after the second ... continue reading


Fr Peter M. J. Stravinskas on the Exaltation of the Holy Cross Watch

Image of Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D. is the Executive Director of the Catholic Education Foundation.

By Fr Peter M. J. Stravinskas,Ph.D., S.T.D.

Every cross borne by any believer in history gains meaning and becomes life-giving when it is brought into a relationship with the Cross, the Cross from which Jesus reigned as the King of Love and over which He triumphed in His glorious Resurrection.  The ... continue reading


Two U.S. priests appointed by Pope Francis to address clergy sexual abuse Watch

Image of Father Oliver had previously served as a judge and promoter of justice in Boston tribunals and as a consultant to the Boston archdiocesan review board.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Addressing the sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has appointed two U.S. priests to top positions at the Vatican. Father Robert W. Oliver, from Boston and Jesuit Father Robert J Geisinger, a member of the Chicago-Detroit ... continue reading


The truth about climate change

Image of Pope Benedict is known as the 'Green Pope' because of statements he has made on the environment. Pope Francis is also said to be working on an encyclical about the environment.

By Tony Magliano

"Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change .  loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 55:6-9
6 Seek out Yahweh while he is still to be found, call ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18
2 Day after day I shall bless you, I shall praise ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 20:1-16
1 'Now the kingdom of Heaven is like a landowner ... Read More

Reading 2, Philippians 1:20-24, 27
20 all in accordance with my most confident hope and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 21st, 2014 Image

St. Matthew
September 21: St. Matthew, one of the twelve Apostles, is the author of the ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter