Throughout history, encounters with the Blessed Virgin Mary have led to unimaginable blessings and abundant fruits. Mary always draws us into a relationship (or a deeper friendship) with her Son, Jesus; however, the generosity of God shown through Mary has also included leaving the world with some remarkable, enduring graces.
For instance, following Catherine Labouré's extraordinary meeting with Mary, the world gained the Miraculous Medal. For those perhaps unfamiliar with her story, here is a highlight from the Miraculous Medal Shrine website:
"In November of 1830, Mary again appeared to St. Catherine at the Rue de Bac Chapel. This time, our Blessed Mother was standing on a globe, with dazzling rays of light streaming from her outstretched hands. Framing the apparition was an inscription: ‘O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.’ When Mary spoke to St. Catherine, she said ‘Have a medal struck upon this model. Those who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck. Those who repeat this prayer with devotion will be, in a special manner, under the protection of the Mother of God. Graces will be abundantly bestowed upon those who have confidence.’"
Additionally, Catherine's special conversation with Mary offers each of us a more profound understanding of the plentiful grace God wants to shower upon each of us. The "Allison abridged" definition of grace is the undeserved yet freely given gift of God's Holy Spirit within us. This divinely infused ability to choose God and good above all else, seek a deeper understanding and relationship with Christ, and say “yes,” as Mary did, to whatever God's will is for our lives. What an incredible gift! No wonder Our Lady appeared and instructed the forging of this a medal to help her children be aware of the availability of grace!
The interesting thing about gifts is that they are only useful if received, open, and used. To realize the gift's full intended potential, the receiver must utilize whatever blessing he has unwrapped. Imagine the potential benefit any gift could hold! Consider a young child who opens a bike for Christmas and grows up to compete in the Tour de France. Maybe it is as simple as a pair of running shoes that helps someone realize what felt like an impossible dream: running a 5k, or even a marathon. Grace empowers us through the love of God to move beyond our strength into blessings we can barely begin to dream.
At the foot of the Cross, grace strengthened and fortified Mary, Mary Magdalene, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and John the Evangelist, to remain with Jesus regardless of the consequences. A spiritual strength so profound their behavior belies the danger to themselves as they stood beneath the cross to be a comfort for their beloved Son, Messiah, and Rabbi. Yet, the absence of the other disciples tells quite a different story.
During Lent, the Church offers this exceptional pause and special opportunity to lean into the grace of God. A reminder to participate more fully in the sacraments, especially making time to reconcile with God through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To draw closer to Jesus through Mary by contemplating the Mysteries of the Rosary, mindful of the grace that flows through each one. What blessing and fruit will we bring forth from this time of prayer, charity, and sacrifice?
HOW WILL YOU COME CLOSER TO GOD THIS LENT?
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