Tomorrow in the Catholic Church, September 8, we commemorate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Birth of the Theotokos in the East). A glorious day that focuses on the birth of the Immaculate Woman who would conceive and bear the Messiah, the Christ, the Word of God Incarnate – Jesus Christ. Although we study, reflect, and focus our attention mainly on Mary’s role in Salvation History from the moment of her fiat, her “Yes” to God, we must remember that the Blessed Virgin Mary was also a child.
Last year for this feast day, I focused on the 12 Means of Honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary in Her Childhood. These means and today’s “Mondays with Mary” come from the writings of Saint John Eudes in his work titled, The Wondrous Childhood of the Most Holy Mother of God. To learn why Saint John Eudes writes on this aspect of Mary’s life, I would encourage you to read the post from last year.
The ’12 Principal Virtues of the Wondrous Childhood of the Blessed Virgin’ are the following –
1. Innocence: The most perfect after Jesus Christ, Mary’s innocence is rooted in the fact that she was free from all sin, both original and actual. She is the Immaculate Conception.
2. Simplicity: Curiosity and duplicity were foreign to her. Mary had one simple will in mind for her life and that was to please God and align her will with His will.
3. Humility: Because she was so humble, she treated herself least among all creatures.
4. Obedience: Because she was free from all sin, she obeyed God, her parents, and all superiors with perfect obedience.
5. Patience: Since she knew that her Son would endure great pains of suffering, she learned to practice patience from her childhood which would prepare her to endure patiently the agonies of Jesus Christ.
6. Love for God: She loved God so much that she would have rather been “annihilated” than give any other creature the love that God Himself deserved. All that she did was for Him alone. Her will was His will – this is the supreme test of divine love.
7. Charity towards her neighbor: Mary had so much love for her neighbor. Even in the cruel and merciless actions of the soldiers that tortured Jesus, Mary petitioned for mercy and love. As His Mother, she offered up his innocent blood, which was being shed for them as well.
8. Contempt of and disengagement from the world and from herself: From the beginning of her life, Mary died to her self in all things, her will was the Will of God, all material things were forsaken for the love of God – He is who she would love above all.
9. Virginal Purity: The Early Church Fathers and Doctors of the Church – St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Augustine of Hippo believed that Mary made a vow of virginity early in her life. They also tell us if Mary had been given a choice to choose whether to be a mother or remain a virgin, she would have chosen virginity.
10. Silence: Mary’s silencing was deafening that nowhere in the Sacred Scriptures, Sacred Tradition, or any other author records a word from her at home with her parents, in the Temple, or any time after.
11. Gentleness and Meekness: Mary is the only human being to exemplify and perfect gentleness and meekness. The sweetness that Mary evokes is not something just of our childhood, but she retains it and shares it with sinners, even the most horrific of sinners. She is always there to bring them back to Jesus Christ.
12. Modesty: Mary’s modesty was so great that some may have mistaken her to be an Angel incarnate.
To conclude, I leave you with the words of Saint John Eudes,
“Praise and immortal thanks be given to Thee, O God, for all the perfections with which Thou has enriched this admirable Child. Eternal honor and benediction to our amiable Mary for all the glory she has rendered the Most Holy Trinity by the practice of the virtues she exercised during her wondrous Childhood.”