Mary: All is gift

When the girl [i.e., the blessed Virgin Mary] is greeted as “full of grace” by the angel, she is afraid. It casts a light on her own essential nature that she had never reflected on. “Poverty of spirit” (or, what is the same, humility) is not some verifiable virtue—capability, suitability, competence is something one can be conscious of—but the unconsidered awareness that everything that one is and has is God’s loan and gift and is only there to bring the giver into the spotlight.

~Hans Urs von Balthasar, Mary for Today (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1988), p. 69.

What would change if we took the example of Our Lady to heart? We would become transparent to God by putting ourselves at the Word’s disposal. Body and soul we would be given over to God, without thereby becoming conscious of any special virtue—infused or acquired—of our own. The saints, and Mary first among them, are not particularly self-conscious, certainly not self-absorbed. Rather they are filled with the “unconsidered awareness that everything that one is and has is God’s loan and gift.” Like her Son, in whom she has her very being, Mary exists from and for the Father.

The Rev. Bill Carroll serves as rector of Emmanuel Parish, Shawnee in the Diocese of Oklahoma. His new parish blog is Emmanuel Shawnee Blog

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