By Jean Alt
And Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:4 NAB)
I have consecrated myself to the Blessed Virgin Mary on several occasions. I needed to do this. I wanted to do this. And yet, I have constantly struggled with this consecration, with this connection.
We have so little information, so few details about Mary, and it is often difficult for me to understand her at all. I would read the glimpse into her life in Luke’s Gospel—the angel Gabriel appearing as a divine messenger to this young woman, almost a child in my eyes. He asks if she would do the will of God and bear the Son of Man. And I wonder, was she for real?
Please understand I was not, and am not, being disrespectful in any way. I just had no personal frame of reference. I knew so many devout and holy women—women who put me to shame in their commitment to their faith, devotion and prayer. But still, I didn’t know anyone who was perfect. Mary is perfect, and I was not. I was so not.
At fifteen, I started my junior year in high school trying to fit in at a large secular school after an entire life at Catholic schools. I was grieving the death of my brother and the turmoil that cycloned my family. At fifteen, Mary was sinless, perfect, and raising the Son of God.
Thirty years later, I was raising two children on my own, still not even close to being perfect, and I was positive Jesus never acted like they did. I looked with longing, and admittedly some envy, at Mary as Queen of the angels and saints, so full of grace, so beautiful in every possible way. I hardly looked in the mirror any more, and I still couldn’t find that connection to Mary.
Fifteen more years have whizzed by, and now I am still no closer to perfection. My children are now adults and on their own. However, a little spark injects itself to my murky thoughts.
Mary, at a wedding with her grown son and his friends. We all know the story. The couple runs out of wine, which is a serious hospitality faux pas. Mary tells Jesus of their situation, and it appears that Jesus shuts her down.
But appearances are often deceiving. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt my children love me and respect me, regardless of their behavior sometimes. How much more does Mary know that Jesus loves and respects her? He must, and not because it’s a moral imperative, but because of his divinity and holiness, which is at the heart of their relationship. Their connection could only be that perfect.
As John 2:4 plays over and over in my mind, I feel my weak connection shift, and I hear a conversation between Jesus and Mary in my mind—the conversation that I imagine took place within their united hearts in that brief moment:
“Mom, you are so compassionate and good. I understand your concern for our friends, but do you really understand what you are asking of me? Of us?
My hour has not yet come. But it will, and when it does, the pain and sorrow you will feel will be beyond imagining. My heart aches at that thought. My heart bleeds at that thought. I know my hour. Do you know and accept this as yours?
This will forever put into motion the road to Calvary. Are you ready to walk with me? You will be the first Apostle. They will look to you when I’m gone.
Mom, you know I love you beyond measure. This is your choice. Are you ready to take this road?”
Be it done to me according to thy word . . . “Do whatever he tells you.”
Fiat. Permission. Agreement. Thy will be done.
“Son, I know where we’re headed, and it’s okay because you were there before me, you’re with me now, and you will be with me in the end and into eternity.”
Mary permitted God to be the center of her entire life. She gave her fiat unquestioningly and constantly to God. Because of her perfect fidelity and trust, God gave her even more graces, and she was able to give herself more deeply and completely to him.
It’s taken a great deal of prayer and thought for me to finally begin to see Mary as a woman and a mother, to see her as a human being with all the same joys, challenges and sufferings that are a part of the human condition we all face. It was in her daily choices, her daily fiat to God, that she became perfect as her heavenly Father is perfect.
She has shown me that in the ordinary moments of life, my “yes” is also required. As I continue to strive to emulate Mary, God will heap even more graces on me also, so that I may in in turn give myself more completely to him through the gift of his mother.
Jean Alt is a daughter of Mary and spends her time striving imperfectly to fulfill her vocation to be a saint.