Presence of God – O Mary, Queen of Apostles, obtain for me the heart of an apostle.
Mary is, at the same time, the model of both contemplative and apostolic souls. Furthermore, by combining in herself the highest contemplative life with the highest apostolic life, she teaches us that contemplation and the apostolate, far from being opposed to each other, complement, support, and maintain each other. When the contemplative life—considered as an assiduous seeking after union with God—is really fervent, it cannot fail to enkindle in the soul the burning fire of the apostolate. One who has experienced, in an intimate contact with God, the ineffable reality of His love for men, cannot fail to burn with the desire to win all to that love. So it was with the Blessed Virgin, but in the most sublime way. Having enjoyed and penetrated God’s love, and being more on fire with it than any other creature, Mary desired more than anyone else to bring all mankind to God. Indeed, no one has collaborated more with Christ in saving the human race. Hers was an intimate and profound collaboration, for by her blood, she supplied the Son of God with the humanity which made it possible for Him, the eternal Word, to become one of us, and to suffer and die for us on the Cross. Mary’s collaboration was of the highest value, since she was willingly, knowingly the Mother of the Savior. She gave her consent, knowing well from the Sacred Scriptures that the Messiah was to be the Man of Sorrows, immolated for the redemption of the world. By consenting to become His Mother, she thereby consented to link her fate with His and share in all His sufferings. To give a Redeemer to the world, to be willing to see her beloved Son die in torment, was Mary’s sublime apostolate, born of her immense love of God.
The greater the love for God, the greater and more effective the apostolate which is derived from it. The reverse is equally true. Every apostolic work which is not animated by charity is nothing. “If I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor,” says St. Paul, “and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3).
“O Mary, you are our life, our sweetness, and our hope! You alone have taken away the world’s universal guilt, for you alone gave birth to the Savior. You are the Mother of mercy, the Mother who washes away the stains of our sins. You pacified us when we cried in our cradle, you fed us and carried us in your arms. You are not only our Mother, but you also want to be the remedy for all our ills ….
“In addition, O Mary, you became for us a sea of bitterness because of the pity you felt for your crucified Son and for all men…. Why, O Mary, have you loved us so much? Why do you overwhelm us with your love? Why do you overwhelm us with our God? Why, I ask, do you inebriate us with love for your Son, while we are unable to repay you in any way? What benefit is it to you, O lover of souls, if we love you, as well as your Son, with great love? Are not the things of heaven enough for you? Why do you seek earthly hearts, which are soiled and fetid? Take us, huntress of souls, take us and gather us into the bosom of your grace. Who can escape the rays of your goodness? No one can avoid the fire of your love, for heaven and earth are full of your favors … always and everywhere you lay the snares of your kindness. We cannot flee very far from you, O most sweet Mother, but we rest always in the bosom of your kindness” (cf. Saint Bonaventure).
“O Mary, you are more mother than queen! When I meditate upon your life, as the Gospel presents it to me, so humble and simple, I do not fear to approach you. I see you living in poverty and obscurity, with no transports or ecstasies, no splendid miracles or brilliant deeds. You show me that I, too, can follow your steps and climb the rough road of sanctity by practicing the hidden virtues. Close to you, O Mary, I like to remain little, and I get a better view there of the vanity of human greatness” (cf. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Novissima Verba – Poems).
O Mary, you gave Jesus to the world in silence and retirement; unnoticed, you shared His whole life, His works, His Passion. Teach me the secret of the interior apostolate of prayer and hidden sacrifices, known to God alone.
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Art for this post on our Blessed Mother Mary’s apostolate: Virgin Annunciate, Antonello da Messina, 1475, Restored Traditions, used with permission. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.