When you think of a “holy” person, what image comes to mind? Perhaps you think of a priest, deacon, nun, or other clergy. Or that person in your parish who attends daily Mass. Or the volunteer who devotes his or her time to soup kitchens, food pantries, and other charitable organizations.
When you imagine a holy person…do you ever picture yourself?
To be holy is to be like God. Doesn’t that seem kind of lofty? How on earth could ordinary ol’ me achieve such a thing? The answer lies right in the question. Holiness doesn’t come from the “earthly” world. It’s not something we earn, or work towards, or deserve. It’s a gift from God. As St. Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians, “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.” (Ephesians 1:4)
God chose us. How beautiful! Continue reading
“The Annunciation” H. Tanner 1898
True confession time. For most of my life I did not pray to Mary. I wasn’t in the habit of saying the Rosary. And I did not have any statues of the Blessed Mother in my home or garden. Mary had always seemed a lofty ideal to me. A heavenly image of perfection that I could not live up to or relate to. I once heard a priest say that our Church hadn’t done Mary any favors by putting her up on a pedestal. The higher she was raised up, the more remote she became.
Years ago, a friend recommended that I read a book called Two From Galilee by Marjorie Holmes, a dramatic account of Mary’s story—a teenage girl chosen by God to bring Christ into our earthly world. The Mary depicted in this story was one I found infinitely compelling: young, scared, and facing an overwhelming responsibility. Discovering Mary through the prayer of imagination was the moment she became real to me. And now I pray to her all the time.
Who was Mary? What was her life like? What was the historical context in which she lived? Only by learning Mary’s personal story can we find our own story. And the Advent season is where Mary’s story begins. Continue reading