How Mary, the Mother of God, Helps Us Grow in Our Faith

The special feast day of the Annunciation, celebrated on Monday, reminds us of one person's generous and unconditional response to God's plan

On the Feast of the Annunciation — celebrated on Monday, March 25 — we remember the moment the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and asked her to accept the role of Mother of God.

More importantly, we recall her generous and unconditional response to God’s plan: “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord, may it be done unto me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

The Blessed Virgin Mary never said “no” to God — but she was certainly put to the test.

Beginning with the mystery of the virgin birth of Jesus, she trusted that God would somehow help Joseph understand her pregnancy.

Later, she was confronted with the reality of there being “no room at the inn” at Bethlehem.

She was thus forced to give birth to the King of Heaven and Earth in a humble cave surrounded by animals and piles of straw.

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Related: Mary, Our Model of Faith

Because of King Herod’s jealousy, her newborn baby’s life was suddenly on the line. This forced Mary and Joseph to flee in the middle of the night to Egypt, not knowing where they would end up and suddenly finding themselves in a foreign culture, with no friends or relatives nearby.

Finally, they returned to Nazareth to a fairly uneventful period. Joseph and Jesus worked hard as carpenters, with the simplicity and poverty of a small, insignificant town as the background.

At some point during this time, St. Joseph died. And age 30, Jesus, the Son of Mary, felt called to go to the desert and begin His public life.

Mary was present at His first miracle at the wedding in Cana, when Jesus turned water into wine, and from there He began His three-year flurry of apostolic ministry.

This culminated when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, leading to His condemnation by Pontius Pilate.

He was crowned with thorns and flogged by the guards. He was forced to carry His cross — and eventually died as our crucified Savior.

Imagine how this must have broken and crushed the maternal heart of Mary!

Related: Seven Ways to Grow Stronger in Faith

After her long journey of faith, Our Blessed Mother was rewarded with seeing the resurrected Jesus and given the consolation of having the “beloved disciple,” John, as her companion in Ephesus.

From the moment of her assumption into heaven, she began to be and continues to be the mother of the church and the mother of us all, interceding and proactively trying to bring us all closer to her Son.

The greatest desire of God, our loving Father, is our personal holiness and happiness.

A business leader recently told me that for most of his life, he used “prayer as a means to tell God which hills I wanted to take in life, asking Him for the grace and strength to climb them.”

Now, he said, he is asking Jesus, “What hill do You want me to take? Where do You want me to go? How can I better please You?”

The greatest desire of God, our loving Father, is our personal holiness and happiness.

We need to trust in His plan and allow His loving providence to lead us through the rough seas and uncertain waters to the heavenly port of eternity. He is patiently waiting there, along with his Blessed Mother, with arms open wide.

Fr. Michael Sliney is a Catholic priest based in the New York City area and an adviser to the Lumen Institute, a professional business group.

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