“And His Mother kept all these words in her heart.”
Luke 2:51

1. Scholars consider themselves amply justified in concluding that the evidence for these first two chapters of St. Luke have been drawn from Our Lady’s own lips, and are even the very words of Our Lady herself; and the repeated statement that she “kept all these words in her heart,” is taken as signifying that St. Luke took the narrative from her. She was a soul of not many words. Wherever we meet her, except on one occasion, she does little more than stand by and look on; when she does speak it is in the full and measured words of one who has an instinct to keep silence rather than to express herself at all.

2. On the other hand, the one occasion on which, as it were, she lets herself speak from her full heart, shows both the matter and the depth of her meditation. The Magnificat teems with Scripture references. No one could have uttered that wonderful prayer who had not

  • (1) pondered long on the words of Holy Scripture,
  • (2) seen their application to and fulfillment in the Messiah,
  • (3) led her thoughts on from the consequences of His coming to the whole world.

The same is seen in the Angel’s words at the Annunciation; he is speaking to one who, he knows, thinks along this definite line. This, then, we may safely take it, is Our Lady’s “method” of meditation; from Scripture to our Lord, from our Lord to men, with herself affected by the conclusion as the “Handmaid of the Lord.” God promised, God redeemed, God spread the fruits of the redemption among men; and so long as this was done all was done. From this her “practical conclusion” was easily drawn; it was that she should dispose herself to be used by Him in whatever way He chose for this end, as His simple “Handmaid.”

3. Hence when later we find her saying of herself that she “kept all these words, pondering them in her heart,” we have little difficulty in following her mind. She took each scene in her Child’s life as it opened out before her; she gathered up every word that was spoken concerning Him. In each event she saw the guiding and redeeming hand of God; in every word she heard the echo of the voice of God. Both alike she interpreted in the light of her Son, seeing in them greater significance because He was the central figure, knowing that because of Him everything had its meaning, its purpose, its power, its lesson. The question: “Why hast thou done so?” was not once only, but continually in her heart. And for answer, as we see unmistakably in the Magnificat, she looked beyond the ages, and reflected on the fruit all this would bear to all mankind; the good tidings of great joy that it would be to all the people, so that all generations would bless the Lord for blessing her; the thoughts that out of many hearts would be revealed, making her agony, whatever it might be, worthwhile; the numbers that would give up all, and would set about their Father’s business, just because her Son had said the word, and given the example, in giving up even her, His dearly loved Mother.

Summary Meditation Points:

  1. Our Lady is a soul of few words.
  2. But a soul of much meditation; and the matter and manner of her meditations are not difficult to discover. “To restore all things in Christ,” might be given as their common title.
  3. Hence one may easily estimate what it was she kept in her heart.


 Archbishop Alban Goodier SJ (1)Editor’s Note: This meditation is from Archbishop Alban Goodier’s “The Prince of Peace” (1913).

Art: Virgin of the Deliverance, Auguste Antoine Ernest Hébert, between 1872 and 1886, PD-Worldwide, Wikimedia Commons. Archbishop Alban Goodier, S.J., www.stmaryscadoganstreet.co.uk, all rights reserved, used with permission.

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