The Outstanding Purity of Our Blessed Mother
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by Monsignor Charles M. Mangan
When enumerating the abundant virtues of Our Blessed Mother, that of purity always attracts attention. Everything about Holy Mary--Her body, intellect and will--has the sweet and enticing fragrance of purity.
In "The Virtue of Purity: An Undivided Heart" (The Catholic Faith, March/April 1999), Professor Mark Lowery, Ph.D. offers a valuable discussion of purity. He writes: "We can only arrive at our ultimate end, the Beatific Vision, if we are purified of everything that is incompatible with God's grace. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church notes, 'purity of heart is the precondition of the vision of God' (2519). St. John of the Cross compares our souls to windows, which unless pure and clean cannot fully receive the light of God's love or see that light. The pure heart is the undivided heart that wills what is true and true loyally and unreservedly."
Professor Lowery continues: "The Catechism notes that the pure of heart are those who 'have attuned their intellects and will to the demands of God's holiness, chiefly in three areas: charity, chastity or sexual rectitude, love of truth and orthodoxy of faith' (2518). We most often think of purity as connected to the area of sexuality, and rightly so; sexuality is so central to our humanity that impurity in that area is not uncommon. Hence, the Catechism mentions it specifically as the second of the three key areas of purity. But note that the first area is 'charity,' and this area is far-reaching. Charity here refers to God's love poured into our hearts (grace), by which love we are capable of loving ourselves and loving others. Loving ourselves means being concerned about our final beatific end, and ordering our lives in light of that end. Loving our neighbors as ourselves means being as concerned about the rest of the community reaching their final goal as we are about ourselves reaching it."
A final important point from Professor Lowery: "Hence, charity is all-encompassing, and as the first of three areas to which the virtue of purity is pertinent, it suggests that a pure heart must accompany all our actions. Purity concerns not only unchaste sexual thoughts but thoughts of envy, greed, covetousness, pride, and so on. Such thoughts compete with God for our loyalty, and hence we need to be vigilant over them lest they gradually possess us, taking priority over God."
It is easy to apply the foregoing to Our Blessed Lady. Her stellar purity meant that everything about Her was suffused with divine grace. She now sees God in Heaven because She saw Him while on earth. At no time in Her existence was She devoid of God. She was truly pure, and for that reason was admitted into Paradise.
The Ever-Virgin Mary was and remains pure in charity, chastity and love of truth and orthodoxy of faith. And that purity is "divine" because it is inspired by God, imitates His purity and leads to Him.
Each of us benefits from the purity of Mary. Regardless of how difficult it is to be pure in charity, chastity and right belief, it is possible. By abandoning ourselves to God as She did, we open ourselves to fresh opportunities of achieving purity.
Such an accomplishment will induce us not to boast but to exclaim: "The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name." (Saint Luke 1:49) God the Father has set the seal of Jesus Christ His Divine Son on us through the workings of the Holy Spirit. We will be pure when we adopt the attitude of Our Blessed Lady and seek the divine purity that even yet radiates from Her.
Published on pages 10-11 in the September 2007 issue of "Missio Immaculatae International." Used with permission.
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Our Blessed Mother, Purity
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