Humble Like Mary
Andrea Bear reflects on a teaching by St. Louis de Montfort about the Blessed Mother that inspired her to practice more humility.
Humility has been a word that keeps popping up in my mind, and all around me. As Christians, we know it's important to practice being humble. Don’t showboat, dress modestly, don’t point out flaws or infractions, don’t brag or sing your own praises. But to actually be humble in this day and age is a challenge I never realized was so incredibly difficult. Social media alone is saturated with images of selfies, muscle flexing, long bouts of complaining. Even acts of kindness and charity demand credit or praise. Politics elevate one group while bashing another, rather than taking any accountability.
Our world is not a very humble place, and I’m no exception. In my own world, I fail to practice humility more than I care to admit. After a long day of work and running my kids to and fro, I find myself in the trap of complaining: expecting praise for grocery shopping, kid drop-offs, making dinner, and homework helping, to name a few. It didn’t occur to me that I was so un-humble until I read some excerpts from St. Louis de Montfort's writing on the virtues of Mary, where he talks about Mary's profound humility. He shares how many struggles she endured and not once did she complain.
Mary could have easily announced to the word, “Yeah my son died, and see all this suffering I had to go through. Just look at those Romans and those Pharisees: who do they think they are, killing my son? I demand justice!” Mary had every right imaginable to speak out against the wrongs against her son and yet she remained silent. She suffered even when the suffering was not her own. She could have felt anger, hatred, betrayal, and self-righteousness. But she didn’t.
In Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary, St. Louis de Montfort encourages us, “Be humble like Mary.” That simple phrase “Be humble like Mary” really hit me. Humility is not about getting even, or what’s fair is fair. Humility is not about getting praise for a job well done or reaching expectations. Being humble is about serving God, whether it's justified or not in the eyes of our world.
After reading St. Louis de Montfort’s words to describe Mary, I wanted to practice being humble. In my efforts to avoid complaining, I counted at least fifteen times in a 24-hour period where I might have normally grumbled, rolled my eyes, or shown resentment (and this was just to my immediate family). I also made efforts to not seek praise for household tasks or point the finger about reasons some tasks were not done. I can’t say this was easy, but each time I held back I thought about Mary’s humility rather than my own self-pity, and I recognized the peace within me that I so desperately desired. I was ashamed at my behavior. I’ve fought this bitterly, because I was looking at this all wrong.
Being humble is not about submitting to your family or winning a fight, or proving who's right or wrong, but instead submitting to the will of God. I had to ask, "What is His will?" Mary knew that and I’m still learning that. “Thy will be done.” Mary’s humility helped her put aside her own needs, to do the Father’s will instead. When I feel neglected or unheard, I recognize I don’t need the praise. God knows what’s in my heart. The part that I had not made heads or tails with was my pain and anger. I know I “should be humble” but I have so much anger inside of me. What has helped me more is if I feel these things I try to offer it up to God instead of offer it “at” my family.
So how can we practice humility?
Thinking about Mary has helped put me in my place each time I want to mouth off, act out in anger or frustration, or complain. Each time I want to find wrong in the world, I repeat the words “Not my will but God’s will,” and then I think of St Louis de Montfort’s words “Be humble like Mary.”
How can you practice humility today? How can you be humble like Mary?
Copyright 2021 Andrea Bear
About Andrea Bear
Andrea Bear is a wife, mom, and teacher in Northern California. She runs a blog called Life in the Grace Lane and also contributes to Catholic Stand and Today's Catholic Teacher magazine. When she's not writing or taking her kids to volleyball practice you can find her sipping coffee from the neighborhood coffee establishments or tasting wine from the local vineyards.