Julian Browning considers Mary’s vocation, and ours
The May Devotions, honouring Mary as Queen of May, a May Crowning, all sound a bit continental to many of us. But May Devotions do not have to follow a particular form. When we enter a church and find a statue of Mary, it’s an invitation to rest, to slow down for a while. Closeness to Our Lady, making her part of our life, part of our prayer life, brings us close to God himself. She brought Christ into the world. With her help, her presence in our life, we do the same, we let Christ live in this world, we see Christ in everything we do. It’s not so much what we do that matters; it’s who we are, and where we find the source and meaning of life, that will matter in the end. So Mary’s vocation is the same as our vocation – to be immersed in God from dawn to dusk, and to bring Christ into the world, whatever happens. There can be perfect understanding between Mary and ourselves without words. We have the same calling.
When we rest in God, we know we’re safe, whatever happens. One of the ways our forebears in the Middle Ages used to draw Mary’s picture was to show her at the top of a painting wearing an enormous cape which sheltered all the people of God beneath. This is where we are, the people of God, under her protection because she shows us the way to lead a free life, by accepting God’s gift of His life. We can make a start by resting in God each day. In the life of the Spirit, each day is a new start, a God-given opportunity to be free. The most important event in the history of the world happened in the darkness of the night in Gethsemane, when Christ said Yes to his Father. The most important events in your life, the turning points, will occur when, just as Mary did, you find a way of giving consent to God, of becoming ‘full of grace’.
Even God needs a rest. The child sleeps in his mother’s lap. The son of God rested in the arms of a human mother. What is all that about? It’s about the dignity of human beings, and human responsibility, and the value of your life and mine. When we consent to God’s life within us, we don’t become mindless puppets being moved about by a know-all God. When we let God live in us, God entrusts us with his life, as vulnerable and fragile as a child in a womb. That’s our vocation as much as it was Mary’s, to look after God, to help him in our own way, in our homes and families. This is why we treat the Blessed Sacrament with such devotion, such care. God is in our hands. Many of the May Devotions taking place this month conclude with Benediction. Mary was the first tabernacle, her lap was the throne on which the Christ Child first sat. So at Benediction we prepare a throne, and celebrate our vocation, as that of Our Lady, to love and be loved by God himself.