On Saturday, December 8, will be the feast day of Immaculate Conception, in honor of Mary, the Mother of God and of the Catholic Church. In observance of such occasion, we take the liberty of lifting excerpts from the sermon of Fr. Joseph A. Galdon, S.J., this paper’s favorite preacher, as compiled from his book, “The Mustard Seed, Reflections for Daily Living.”
MY subject is Mary, the Mother of the Lord who shows us what real womanhood and femininity are all about. All of us, men or women, have much to learn from Mary, for she was all woman, in every sense of the world – a real woman, a caring mother and a loving wife.
A real woman must be a giver of life, either in physical or spiritual sense. Womanhood is all about life! Fpr the ancient Greeks, the first of the gods was Gaia, the Earth Mother, for from her cam all living things. The most wholesome and most genuine picture of a woman is always a mother with a child. Pope Pius XII said that “every woman must be a mother, either in the physical sense, or in the deeper, more spiritual sense.” A woman conceives life. She carries the child in her womb for nine months. She nourishes life when the child is born. But she must, because she is woman, also bring deeper, more spiritual life to all those she comes in contact with [such as the Bicolano voyadores and devotees who honor her every September as Our Lady of Peñafrancia].
There is much death in our world. War, murder, abortion. We need woman like Mary to constantly remind us of the value of life. There is much psychological and spiritual death around us, too. Discouragement, failure, sin.We need women to tell us of the essential value of love and life, as Mary did. Life is not things – life is people. That is what good women tell us all the time.
The secret of Mary’s fundamental posture toward God was the fact that she prayed. The traditional story of the Annunciation is that the angel came to her as she prayed. Luke tells us several times that Mary “pondered all these things in her heart.” All during the public life of Christ we can be sure that Mary prayed. At the cross on Good Friday and at the tomb on Easter Sunday, we know that Mary prayed.
Our modern world often distorts the value of a woman and looks for it in beauty or attractiveness, but a real woman’s value is not in her appearance, but in her holiness, in her inner beauty, in her relationship with God.
There is one final characteristic of Mary that makes her such a remarkable woman. It is the fact of her womanly presence. Mary was “always there” to give life, to care, to love. The Gospels tell us very little of her accomplishments beyond the mere fact that “she was there.” There are very few words of Mary recorded in the scriptures. We have no great deeds of hers – just her presence.
At Bethlehem, Mary was there. During the hidden years in Nazareth, Mary was there. During Christ’s few years of preaching, we know that Mary was there on the outer fringe of his activity. Beneath the cross, Mary was there. At the tomb and in the supper room, Mary was there.
It is a great virtue – the virtue of simple presence. It is a wonderfully feminine virtue to be there at birth, at death, in sickness or in health, in joy and in sorrow. All of us can remember those great moments of trial in our lives when a woman was there as a mother, a wife, a daughter, or a friend.
An eighteenth-century novelist wrote once that the world does not rest on the shoulders of men. It rests on the hearts of good and loving women. Like Mary.