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Mary, model of accompaniment

Gavin T. Murphy keeps a blog on ilovebipolar.com and he looks to Ignatian Spirituality for strength and inspiration.

Mary accompanied her son throughout her life as contemplated by Saint Ignatius in his Spiritual Exercises. During this time of Advent, perhaps we can renew our love for Jesus by seeing how his mother loved him.

Firstly, in the ‘Contemplation on the Incarnation’, we see how Mary humbles herself and gives thanks to the “Divine Majesty” when the angel Gabriel appears to her (SE 101-109). I imagine how the Three Divine Persons gaze on the world in compassion and work out a plan so that Jesus becomes human. They want to give new life to the people of earth through the instrument of Mary, and she fully cooperates in this creation. She completely opens her heart to God by saying “Yes” to what the angel requests of her. In her complete faith and trust, she knows that God is giving all that she needs and more. She is purely grateful for everything. She accompanies God with simplicity and love.

Secondly, Mary is a model of accompaniment in how she and Joseph search and find the 12-year-old Jesus in the temple after three days (SE 272). I imagine that she is consistent in her searching for her son among her relatives and friends and in every nut and cranny of Jerusalem. She experiences what can be called ‘stressed serenity’ – stressed being physically separated from Jesus and serene being emotionally united with him. She remains ‘One with Jesus’ despite being a distance away from him. Her heart is always with his heart no matter what. She is naturally delighted and glad when she finally finds him.

Thirdly, Ignatius invites us to consider “Our Lady’s loneliness along with her deep grief and fatigue” after the death of her son. In order to understand her experience, I contemplate ‘The mysteries from the cross to the sepulcher’ (SE 298). Here, Mary is seen with Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus as they take Jesus down from the cross, carry him to the tomb, anoint and bury him. Guards are also stationed at the tomb. In my imagination, I see Mary experiencing so much pain as if her heart is pierced with a sword. She wants to take this sword out of her heart so it can bleed: I realise that her agony, doubts and sense of helplessness are in fact a process she must go through.

Lastly, I look to how Mary rejoices in the contemplation on ‘The Resurrection of Christ, and His First Apparition’ (SE 299). I imagine that she feels great joy when Jesus appears to her and that they warmly kiss and embrace each other. Jesus listens intently to his mother’s experience of pain and enables her to move on to another emotional experience. Slowly, at Mary’s prompting, she begins to smile in consolation on seeing her risen son. A bit like when she accepted what the angel told her all those years ago about becoming the mother of God. Together, they pray that others may be One with the risen Christ – giving hope, inspiration, joy, light-heartedness and laughter.

Mary, model of accompaniment, pray for us.

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