Mary: Model of Consecrated Life

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Mary is the most excellent model of every Christian in the order of faith, charity and perfect union with Christ. As the one “full of grace” she was most perfectly consecrated by God and she, in turn, consecrated herself totally to Christ and his mission of salvation. For this reason, she is in a particular way the model of consecrated person.[1]

The Apostolic Exhortation on Vita Consecrata explains,

The relationship with Mary most holy, which for every believer stems from his or her union with Christ, is even more pronounced in the life of consecrated persons… Mary’s presence is of fundamental importance both for spiritual life of each consecrated persons and for the solidity, unity and progress of the whole community. Consecrated life looks to her as the sublime model of consecration to the Father, and union with the Son and openness to the Spirit, in the knowledge that acceptance of the Virginal and humble life of Christ also means imitation   of Mary’s way of life.[2]

The intimate relationship between consecrated life and Mary is an exceptional discovery. It has assumed greater theological significance and spiritual richness. Mary is set before the consecrated person as excellent model. Mary reflects the divine beauty right from the moment of her Immaculate Conception.[3]

The great Carmelite St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, better known as Edith Stein, wrote somewhere: “The imitation of Mary includes the imitation of Christ because Mary is the first Christian to follow Christ.”  Indeed, that is why the imitation of Mary is relevant not only to the women but to all Christians.  The call of each one to consecrated life is a call for a unique, special task, one that no one else can accomplish. Our response should mirror the love of the one, who called us, but we are called not just to do a job; we are called to give a loving response. The call has, like a coin, two sides: we are called away from something and we are called to do something, called for something.[4]

The vocation to consecrated life is indeed a vocation to “the greater love” (Jn 15:13), a call to give, like Mary, oneself to Christ and through Him to others.  As Christ called Mary to follow Him and she, in turn, gave herself completely to Him, so He continually calls new disciples to communicate to them, by an outpouring of the Spirit, the divine agape, his way of loving, and to urge them thus to serve others in the humble gift of themselves.[5]

The Virgin Mary always cooperated with the plan of God. Consecrated persons too must accept that it is God’s plan rather their own and always to corporate with it. Mary’s vocation and that of a religious are both in acceptance of a role in the fulfilment of the divine plan and the willingness to collaborate in divine activities that are related to the plan. Consecrated life becomes a participation in the plan of God.[6]  Mary Like any of us bore in her heart the memory of her people. She pondered the life of her Son. She personally experienced God’s grandeur and joyfully proclaimed that he “fills the hungry with good things” (Lk 1:53). Mary is our model today, like her we are called to trust in the goodness of the Lord, who does great things with smallness, with the lowliness of his servants. [7]

[1] Stockl, Mary Model and Mother of Consecrated, p. 23.

[2] John Paul 11, Vita Consecrata ,  Post – Synodal  Apostolic Exhortation on Consecrated  Life, Vatican City,  Liberia Editrice Vaticana, 1996,  no. 28.

[3] M.K. Fong, Mary’s Presence and Example is indispensible to Consecrated Life,” L’Osservatore Romano, no. 22, 29th May, 1996, pp. 10-11.

[4] J. D. Leloczky, “Imitation of Mary and Religious Vocation,” Review for Religious, 65, no. 2, 2006, pp. 153-158.

[5] Stockl, Mary, Model and Mother of Consecrated   Life, p. 95.

[6] J. K. Morse, “Mary: The Prototype of Religious Life,” Sanyasa, 8, no.1, 2013, pp. 21-29.

[7]  Francis, “Dicsard no one,” 9th July 2015, L’ Osservatore Romano no. 25, 17th July 2015, p. 5

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