by Mother Mary Potter, Catholic Family Magazine, Australia
We do not think enough of this love of Mary for simple domestic life; indeed, we often forget it entirely. Yet it is one of the most beautiful traits in her character.
It seems the very essence of Mary, so to speak, to be simple, to perform the common, ordinary duties of a wife and a mother, and to love them. Her Heart ever craved after one thing, namely, to walk simply before God and to be perfect, whatever might be the circumstances or condition of her life.
But He gave her what her Heart most desired, the simple ordinary life of women, that she might live this life in her sweet, simple way, and sanctify it for the multitude of women who should follow her, that she might leave an example to her children, so sweet, so captivating, that they hereafter might love to walk in her footsteps; that she might be the pattern of a perfect woman to them.
And such indeed she is, and so sweet is her example, that the world seems made holier, purer by the very name of Mary.
Every good Catholic household seems penetrated with her influence, and perfumed by her presence. Her statues and pictures are everywhere, and everywhere remind us of herself, the pure simple Mary, the holy woman, the gentle Virgin, the Mother above all mothers.
But she ever comes before us in her own simplicity, that simplicity of Mary which is unlike anything else. There is nothing extraordinary about her in her outward conduct and demeanor, nothing excessive, nothing exaggerated.
She is a pure, true woman, lovely beyond conception; she is Mary, unlike aught but herself.
But for all that, holy Mother, we wish to be like thee, as far as we may; we wish to imitate thee; we will follow thee in the way thou hast shown us; our lives shall be in conformity to thine, so far as our weakness will permit.
If thou hadst done extraordinary things we might still have looked up to thee, longed to imitate thee, and should not have been able: but thou hast lived upon this earth as other women live, working no miracles, doing nothing marvelous, but for the greater part in the simple discharge of the duties of a quiet peaceful home, only so perfectly, with such exquisite purity of intention, with such ardent charity.
We, too, desire to live as thou hast done; thou wilt surely help thy children, tender Mother that thou art.
Mary is great as the Immaculate Virgin, she is great as the marvelous Mother of God, she is great as she stands on Calvary, offering the greatest sacrifice ever creature offered to God.
She offered what was her own, for Jesus was hers, He was her Son.
Mary is great as Queen of Heaven, but Mary is equally great in the eyes of God in the simple actions of her daily life, since in them she did God’s will as perfectly as she did when she consented to become His Mother.
We love Thee, Mary, as we watch thee, so quiet, so humble performing thy daily round of duties.
Each action was an offering, a gift, well pleasing to the Most High, each action was performed carefully, earnestly, as though it were an act of religious worship, and so indeed it was in Mary’s eyes.
Mary sanctified the daily acts of life, and in this her children can and must follow her example.
God is everywhere. He is adorable everywhere. He should be adored everywhere. We work in His presence always. It is with this thought ever in our minds that we should work.
It will not then matter to us what our work is; the smallest action will be performed as carefully as the greatest, and our life will be beautiful in the sight of God. Yes; it is not always what appears to us to be grand actions that are grand in the sight of God.
They are indeed grand when performed purely for the love of God; but these same heroic actions may be done from unworthy, selfish, interested motives, and not be so pleasing to God as some most commonplace, everyday actions proceeding from a purer motive.
Who can understand the joy of God in His saints, whose days are full of such noble actions as these?
We, too, naturally admire what is heroic and noble. See the applause that Grace Darling won for her one brave act in saving the lives of the poor, shipwrecked sailors; but that may have been no more pleasing in the sight of God than the simple daily actions of many a chosen soul, both in the world and in the cloister, dear to the Heart of God, “for man seeth those things that appear, but the Lord beholdeth the heart.”
If we could see our lives as those in heaven see them; if we could but see how beautiful to the angels and saints the lives appear of those who on earth are “all for God,” how differently should we feel, how differently should we act.
Do we think as we should of the quiet, simple life of Mary, full of its everyday, ordinary actions?
We have read of the saint who saw how a poor laborer was adding to his merit and his future crown in heaven by every brick he laid. Then what must Mary have done? What was the purity of intention of that poor bricklayer laying his bricks compared to the intention with which Mary worked at her needlework, drew water from the well for her little household, cleaned the house and its humble furniture, ant did all that was necessary for the simple poor cottage at Nazareth.
The angels never tired of gazing at their Queen as she went from one duty to the other in the simple routine of her life. She grew more and more wonderful to them, and they loved human life, seeing it such as they had ne’er before seen it, “life as Mary lived it.”
Let Mary’s children resolve to imitate their Mother; let them, wherever they may be, whether in the world or the cloister, resolve to imitate Mary by their cheerful, careful performance of their daily duties. Our Mother is looking lovingly upon us. Let us think of her sweet, smiling face; let us earn from her the crown she is holding for us, which she is so anxious to bestow upon us, the reward the good God will give to all who are faithful to Him, and persevere in His service to the end.
Let us never grow weary of our work; let us never grow remiss; let us never yield to sloth. We shall not be able to work for God in heaven, we shall rest in Him there. Now is the time for toil and labor. Now is the time to show love for God by fulfilling His will, which is that we labor in the sweat of our brow in a spirit of penance, though at the same time with a spirit of joy that we are able thus to give gifts to our God, the gift of ourselves and ail our faculties.
Recollect that if the temptation of sloth is given way to, there is an end to sanctity for us. Recollect that if we begin to perform our actions hurriedly, as matters of slight import, we are in a state of delusion, and our final perseverance in the right way is doubtful.
As a tree is known by its fruits, so is the perfection of a soul known by its works; it is the one true criterion. Watch how persons perform their work, and you will know how near they are to God. You will know if Jesus be dwelling as King within them or not.
One who works carelessly, who throws things about untidily, who by thoughtlessness and carelessness creates disorder, that soul is not living in close union with Jesus.
God is so orderly, so perfect, so beautifully neat, if I may say so with reverence, in all His ways. I cannot imagine such a thing as an untidy or a slovenly saint, though, in some, doubtless, the poor body and its tidiness and cleanliness have been disregarded, but this was done from higher motives, and not from carelessness or love of dirt for its own sake.
If we are striving to make a home for Jesus in our hearts, to make His dwelling within us pleasing to Him, how carefully we shall work, how perfectly shall we strive to perform each action, with what a joyous, happy spirit, too.
Not in a dull and slavish way; our service will not be a forced and oppressive, but a very cheerful, happy one; since all our actions will be offered to God, all our acts will be acts of love.
We shall love our life of love and labor, and it is the Mother of fair love who will infuse this love into us, who will help her children to work in the same spirit as she did, who will send angels to assist them if they try to do their part, who will herself teach them the best way of performing their daily duties.
Oh, lovely Mother, Queen of Angels, send thy holy angels to watch over thy children, and make them to live on earth as God’s earthly angels, well pleasing in His sight and most dear to Him.
If Mary’s children, then, would have their hearts in union with their Mother’s Heart, they, too, must love domestic life, home life; they must consider home as their place of work, and love it; they must think that their principal work is to make home happy; they must live in their household as Mary lived in hers; they must put their heart in all they do; they must make all their works acts of love, as Mary did; and God will bless those homes where the spirit of Mary thus lives.
May there be many such homes in this world, that God may love it as in the beginning, when He blessed it and pronounced it good.
“Lord, Help me to be a good wife. I fully realize that I don’t have what it takes to be one without Your help. Take my selfishness, impatience, and irritability and turn them into kindness, long-suffering, and the willingness to bear all things. Take my old emotional habits, mindsets, automatic reactions, rude assumptions, and self-protective stance, and make me patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. Take the hardness of my heart and break down the walls with Your battering ram of revelation. Give me a new heart and work in me Your love, peace, and joy. I am not able to rise above who I am at this moment. Only You can transform me.” -The Power of a Praying Wife
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