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Spiritual matters

Mary's prayer offers insights for life

January 19, 2011 - There is perhaps no better way to begin the new year than to listen to the words of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

We can listen to her words in the prayer called the "Magnificat."

In this prayer we get a glimpse into the heart and mind of Mary as she prepared for the birth of her son Jesus. Let's take a look at some of the phrases of Mary's prayer so that we might gain some spiritual insights.

Mary's prayer begins: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior."

At Christmas we celebrate a God who is so great that he didn't flaunt his greatness. Often in life we think that our personal greatness lies in putting ourselves and our own achievements at the forefront.

We might be tempted to believe that others will admire us, respect us, and want to approach us if we show them how great we are.

In highlighting our greatness, however, we can actually distance ourselves from others. The higher we put ourselves on a throne, the farther away from other people we become.

Christians believe that God came down from heaven, not on an inaccessible throne, but in the silence and simplicity of a manger so that we could come close to him without fear.

He allows us to approach him through the greatness of his humility.

Mary must have sensed this wonderful paradox because she also says: "He has looked upon his lowly servant."

She understood that God comes close to the humble of heart. Mary did not deem herself worthy of becoming the mother of the Savior.

She calls herself a "lowly servant" and recognizes that, because of her humility, "all generations will call me blessed."

Her prayer continues: "The Almighty has done great things for me."

Mary recognized God as the source of all the good things in her life.

What were these good things? Remember that Mary and Joseph were poor as far as earthly possessions go.

For all those who are poor, Mary is a consolation. She shows us that the true spirit of Christmas can be experienced in the absence of material things.

So, despite the many hardships that people face, there truly is a message of hope every Christmas.

Mary grasped that these good things were spiritual "things": love, friendships, happiness.

She teaches us that among all the beautifully wrapped boxes we find under our Christmas trees, the most precious present is the presence of the Christ child who brings us peace and joy.

Fr. Daniel Pajerski, LC, is Formation Director for Everest Academy.

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