Contemplating Mary's spiritual beauty Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Dec. 03, 2009 -- 1:00 AM

Seeing with Jesus' Eyes by Fr. Donald Lange

During October 1863, Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli received a vision of Mary as he rode to Shullsburg with three Dominican Sisters for the sacrament of Confirmation.

He told Fr. John Kinsella, his confessor, "I have always been an admirer of beauty. But never have I seen anything that compared with the beauty of God's mother."

Feast of Immaculate Conception

We recognize Mary's beauty and grace on December 8 when we celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Mary's Immaculate Conception was proclaimed as dogma by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854.

In no. 491 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pius IX is quoted: "The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God and by virtue of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin."

God gifted Mary with freedom from sin so that she might be the mother of Jesus. God sent the angel Gabriel to ask Mary if she would freely consent to be mother of the messiah, the dream of most Jewish girls. Mary responded, "I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say."

Beauty in virtue

Some say that expectant mothers are beautiful. Mary's face surely radiated the joy of carrying Jesus in her heart and womb. Her beauty touched stony hearts. Even unborn John leaped with joy in his mother's womb.

The beauty of Mary's Immaculate Conception should not blind us to sin's evil. Sin often tempts us under the guise of an apparent good. But it taints the beauty of God's image, wounds our ability to love, and causes violence to multiply. Mortal sin can rob us of the priceless gift of eternal life.

Mary's consent enabled her to be the mother of Jesus who would redeem us from sin, offer us the gift of eternal life, and send the Holy Spirit to help us to live a Christ-like life.

Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI stated that Mary is the mother of priests because she is the mother of Jesus, the high priest. Priests are stewards of Christ's love as the Good Shepherd.

Mary gave us Jesus, and she is also his greatest disciple. There is beauty in virtue, and Mary, full of grace, lived a life of Christ-like virtue. William Wordsworth described her as "our tainted nature's solitary boast."

Mary is who we would be if not for original sin. A student told me that if she could be anyone else, she would like to be Mary. She is the perfect reflection of Jesus. Mary is the beautiful reed through whom the Holy Spirit breathed Jesus' love.

As Jesus' faithful disciple, Mary followed him to the cross. As she stood under the cross, Jesus commissioned Mary to be our spiritual mother who intercedes and cares for us. We Catholics honor Mary as our Blessed Mother.

'Do what he tells you'

Parents who lose children can identify with Mary and Joseph, who lost Jesus in the temple and later to a cruel death on the cross. She understands our suffering because she has been there.

Like Jesus, Mary went about doing good. She hurried to help Elizabeth prepare for the birth of John, the Baptist. She gave birth to Jesus in a smelly stable that would be condemned by today's health departments.

At Cana, she interceded with Jesus on behalf of the couple to avoid them embarrassment. Her words to the waiter, "Do what he tells you," is one of the best and shortest homilies ever given.

Like Mary, we Catholics are graced. Unlike Mary, we sin, but God redeemed us. Like Mary we strive to do God's will and help modern Elizabeths or others in need. We join our suffering with the suffering of Jesus, as did Mary.

Waiting patiently during Advent

Mary is the patroness of Advent who waited and longed to give birth to Jesus and offer him to the world. During Advent we join Mary in waiting patiently for the coming of Jesus at Christmas.

Fr. Kevin O'Shea stated that Mary was so in love with God that she conceived Christ in her heart before her womb. Like Mary, we are called to spiritually conceive Christ through the Holy Spirit and share him with others. Advent challenges us to renew our efforts to be Jesus' disciples and stewards.

Mary is patroness of the United States under the title of the Immaculate Conception. The lyrics of "America the Beautiful" praise America's cornucopia of blessings. Yet its words "May God mend thine every flaw" invite us to continuous conversion.

May the graced beauty of Mary's life that motivated the Venerable Father Mazzuchelli help us to be committed Catholics and responsible citizens like him. May we celebrate Advent and Christmas with Mary's faith and joy.

Have a Mary Day.

Fr. Don Lange is a pastor emeritus of the Diocese of Madison.