VATICAN - AVE MARIA : Mgr Luciano Alimandi -
Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - Once again a new year has begun with the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Grand Mother of God, as we celebrated her on January 1, recalling her divine motherhood. How we need this Mother at our side, all through life, day after day, so as to experience in a thousand concrete ways her protection, her help, her grace which, if accepted, embraces and enfolds everything with her maternal warmth!
To receive the meek and silent presence of Mary, to savour her typical grace in our heart, we must become like children. Since only the heart of a child understands this maternal love and opens wide to receive, as it pours into every heart which seeks and invokes, as little hearts do.
Not by chance so many faithful flock to Marian shrines all over the world with humility and trust to encounter the heavenly Mother, opening their hearts to her and returning home 'changed'. This encounter with Our Lady, the best preparation for the encounter with her Son, is real, profound, natural… it happens in the most intimate sphere of the human, the dwelling place of "original child" within us. Created in the image and likeness of God, we carry in our hearts the indelible touch of original Innocence, spiritual Childhood, with a capacity for purity, truth, love and peace… which, seconded, enables us to experience happiness.
With baptism we are born as children of the light, but our freedom can render us children of the darkness, it we use it wrongly, living without God. Despite sin, which creeps into the human heart from the first wrong decisions, there remains the aching and insuppressible longing for Original Innocence, the interior state of a child, where truth, loved and lived, is the essence of everything.
Woe if one should suppress this supernatural longing in the soul for truth which comes from Jesus, and follow some miserable mistruth which comes from the Devil, such as the belief that I am enough for myself. If this happens we become deformed.
Man, created purposely "deiform", to be ever more similar to God in communion with Christ, with the wrong use of freedom adapts to the world, to the things of this earth, gradually losing the desire for the things of God, and seriously risks losing God for ever. What a terrible tragedy this would be! This is why Our Lady comes to visit us. She comes because man strays from the way to salvation.
The Way to God, is the Way God came to us. It is the "Marian Way", along which God chose to come into the world, and necessary therefore for returning to Him as it is so beautifully described by Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort in his well known "Treaty on True Devotion to Mary".
The Marian Way is basically the way of humility walked by Our Lady who said at the Annunciation: "behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord" (Lk 1, 38). She could have said "I am the Mother of the Lord ", after the Angel had announced her divine maternity, but she said "I am the handmaid ". Yes, Our Lady teaches us with her radical humility to be servants of God and servants of neighbour. What a superb title "servant"! Not by chance the Pope bears the title: "the servant of the servants of God". A servant not only possesses nothing, he is truly a servant in the eyes of God if he does not even possess himself, and lives as one "expropriated". This is the "Marian way": learning from Mary the most difficult art of emptying oneself of self, making self small so divine life can grow within us. This way is the luminous path of the saints.
In order to recognise this great light, Christ, we need precisely humility, as the Holy Father teaches, speaking of the mystery of Christmas: "This is Christmas ... the holy day on which the "great light" of Christ shines forth, bearing peace! Certainly, if we are to recognize it, if we are to receive it, faith is needed and humility is needed. The humility of Mary, who believed in the word of the Lord and, bending low over the manger, was the first to adore the fruit of her womb; the humility of Joseph, the just man, who had the courage of faith and preferred to obey God rather than to protect his own reputation; the humility of the shepherds, the poor and anonymous shepherds, who received the proclamation of the heavenly messenger and hastened towards the stable, where they found the new-born child and worshipped him, full of astonishment, praising God (cf. Lk 2:15-20). The little ones, the poor in spirit: they are the key figures of Christmas, in the past and in the present; they have always been the key figures of God's history, the indefatigable builders of his Kingdom of justice, love and peace." (Benedict XVI, Urbi et Orbi Message, Christmas Day 2007).
(Agenzia Fides 7/1/2008; righe 56, parole 795)