In my last semester of the Master of Divinity program I am currently taking a course on Priesthood. My professor just the other week showed us an image of Our Lady depicted in the icon of the Virgin of Vladimir1.
In explaining the detail of this icon to our class, my professor’s point was that devotion to Mary is what keeps us from rationalizing our faith in Jesus Christ. Because Jesus Christ became a real human, and had a real mother. And this real Mother - Mary - loved the Son of God - her Son - so much that she gave her whole life to birthing, growing, and loving Him on this earth, even to the point of not withholding Him from the Cross, from death, and from the Resurrection which set us free from sin and brought us life. Mary is not just showing us her Son in this icon, but in inviting us into the relationship she has with Jesus she is reminding us what it cost her to share her Son with us.
Mary, the Mother of our Lord Jesus, was a real Mother. Our relationship with Jesus Christ, similarly, is a real relationship. Likewise, finding and following Hope can seem like just another rational endeavor, another mind game, to play with ourselves. Our faith becomes the reminder that we must never forget, rather, the relationship with the God who became human, who lived a human life like ours, so that our experience of life might be transformed. How many times did Jesus tell those He healed to “get up and walk”, or “pick up your mat and go home”, or “come out of the grave”? Did the angel Gabriel tell Mary “You’re going to believe that your Son Jesus is the Son of God?” No, in all of these circumstances God’s grace was revealed to humans the more that they embodied the faith - carried it with them.The more they lived their daily lives in the presence of their faith, the more that the promise of God’s faithfulness was shown to them.
I hope through this Month of Mary, we have all been renewed in our faith in this way. Because when Jesus “makes all things new” as He is doing this Easter, as He has been doing throughout the pandemic: He promises that our lives will be transformed by His presence - if only we walk believing He truly is the Son of God, who took on human flesh, who suffered, died, a rose for our sake, and whose Mother loved Him so much that she gave Him to the whole world, so that we might be saved and no longer live life for ourselves, but for Jesus Christ.
What are ways that this new life in Christ can be experienced in our homes, our workplaces, our communities, this season? There is no doubt that many in our world are yearning for a message of hope and a reason for joy in the midst of difficult pain and suffering. But this is not simply done by making hope and joy in Christ just another mantra to recall in the darkest moments, but as a way of life we choose to walk. Jesus Christ - the Son of God, and the real Son of a real Mother - promises His Spirit and grace will always lead us, vivify us and bring us back to life as we come out of the grave, as we rise and walk, as we pick up our mats and go home.
About Andrew Fritz, C.S.C.
Andrew Fritz, C.S.C. is a temporarily professed religious in the Congregation of Holy Cross. Originally from Columbia, MD, from a family with three sisters, now studying theology for the priesthood at Moreau Seminary on the campus of Notre Dame. He has worked previously to provide spiritual support for counselors of women facing crisis pregnancies. He writes to connect the reality of faith with the realities of daily life.