Blessed Is She Who Believed
by Patti Gallagher Mansfield
Did you know that 30 years ago when the Charismatic Renewal was born on the Duquesne Weekend, Mary was there? After all, she is the Mother who was present in the Upper Room, the Mother of the Church. When we students from Duquesne gathered in the chapel, another "upper room", our first activity was a meditation on Mary given by one of our professors. I was struck, not so much by his words about her, as by the unction that accompanied them. And it’s this unction that I’ve been seeking for these simple words of mine, because I am convinced that the future of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal hinges on our relationship to Mary as our model and also as our mother. In fact, in this year of preparation for the Jubilee, Pope John Paul II has asked the whole Church to turn to Mary as the model of faith and to contemplate the mystery of her Divine Motherhood. Consider with me three mysteries in the life of Mary... one joyful, one sorrowful, one glorious, and "as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress" (Ps 123:2), so let our eyes be on her hands.
The Annunciation: Hands Open and Empty
Here is Mary, the woman of prayer, attentive and responsive to God, with hands open and empty before God, not clinging to any previous plans, not dictating any conditions. A simple fiat. Yes. Be it done to me according to your word. Indeed, "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord" (Lk 1:45). By faith she permitted the Father to fulfill His plan and welcomed the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. By faith she embraced the Word made flesh in her womb. We know that "without faith it is impossible to please God" (cf. Heb 11:6) and that Mary found favor with Him by her faith.
So must we, at this juncture in our lives as individuals and as a movement, kneel before the Father in a radical poverty of spirit and learn to pray with hands open and empty. In the past 30 years we have received great graces, but I’m afraid that too often we’ve returned to God with our hands full instead of empty. I sense that there are new "annunciations" being given for a new move of the Spirit, but that many of us don’t really want God to be God. We still want Him on our own terms... a God who will fit into a prescribed pattern of acting. We don’t want the Living God who turned Mary’s life upside down. Let’s be careful! By her faith, Mary permitted God to "create a new thing upon the earth" (Jer 31:22). As I’ve asked Mary to be my mother and teach me to pray with hands open and empty, this is what I am learning to say to the Father, "With Mary, I want to be for You all YES, only YES, always YES."
The Cross: Hands Over a Pierced Heart
"Behold your Mother!" (Jn 19:27). Here is Mary, the sorrowful mother, standing near the Cross, her faith put to the test, steadfast in hope and in love, receiving from the lips of Jesus her new mission to be mother of us all. Here is Mary, hands over a heart that is pierced by the sword, just as Simeon prophesied. I have come to see that either we meet Mary at the foot of the Cross, in our own moments of suffering and pain, or we meet her elsewhere and she brings us there... to the Cross of Jesus, to contemplate and to receive the water of the Spirit flowing from His wounded side. This is our place of safety as we seek to live more deeply in the Holy Spirit.
Many of us have tried to avoid the Cross and the painful purification it brings. How often our actions reveal arrogance and pride in spiritual matters rather than humility and meekness. When the sword of suffering has pierced our hearts, we’ve often given up hope instead of turning to Mary who is ready to teach us faithfulness in the midst of trials. Our Mother knows about pierced hearts and she wants us to have in the future a new purity to correspond to a new outpouring of graces. Mary is teaching me to say to Jesus:"Burn out of my heart a love for myself and burn into my heart a love for You and for Your Cross.
Pentecost: Hands Raised in Praise and Proclamation
"Spouse of the Holy Spirit": this is the title for Mary used by many of the saints. I can imagine Mary at Pentecost reassuring the disciples that what they see and hear is indeed the Holy Spirit. Like any spouse, she has an intimate knowledge of the One who loves her, the One she loves. She knows His touch, His taste, His manner of acting, and how to yield to Him in love. Mary knows what the infilling with the Holy Spirit is really all about... it’s about loving union! She is our best teacher in praise and in proclamation. I love to pray with her words in praise: "My soul magnifies the Lord" and in proclamation: "God who is mighty has done great things" (Lk 1:46). The late Cardinal Suenens wrote in his preface to my book, As By A New Pentecost, "Jesus Christ continues to be mystically born of the Holy Spirit and of Mary, and we must never separate what God has joined together."
The New Wine
Like an intoxicating new wine causing joy and gladness among God’s people all over the world, there’s a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit taking place today. It’s bringing about deep conversions and reconciliations and giving impulse to new ministries. I believe it is a sign of the approaching Jubilee. Let’s not miss out on this new wine! At Cana it was Mary’s faith that led her to say, "They have no wine" (Jn 2:3), moving Jesus to act and bringing on the "hour of the Lord." I believe that Mary stands before us today, waiting for us to turn to her with confidence, trusting that her intercession will mediate this new wine of the Spirit for us again. And why should we desire this new wine?... not simply for laughter and refreshment but that Jesus might manifest His glory and that His disciples might believe in Him (cf. Jn 2:11).
©1997 ICCRS: International Catholic Charismatiac Renewal Services, Vatican City. All rights reserved. Used by permission.