Editor’s note: below is a selection from the modern spiritual classic Divine Intimacy: Meditations on the Interior Life for Every Day of the Year. This is reproduced with permission from Baronius Press.
Presence of God: O Mary, my Mother, teach me to live hidden with you in the shadow of God.
The liturgy enthusiastically celebrates Mary’s Nativity and makes it one of the most appealing feasts of Marian devotion. We sing in today’s Office: “Thy Nativity, O Virgin Mother of God, brings joy to the whole world, because from you came forth the Sun of Justice, Christ, our God.” Mary’s birth is a prelude to the birth of Jesus because it is the initial point of the realization of the great mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God for the salvation of mankind.
How could the birthday of the Mother of the Redeemer pass unnoticed in the hearts of the redeemed? The Mother proclaims the Son, making it known that He is about to come, that the divine promises, made centuries before, are to be fulfilled. The birth of Mary is the dawn of our redemption; her appearance projects a new light over all the human race: a light of innocence, of purity, of grace, a resplendent presage of the great light which will inundate the world when Christ, “lux mundi,” the Light of the World, appears. Mary, preserved from sin in anticipation of Christ’s merits, not only announces that the Redemption is at hand, but she bears the firstfruits of it within herself; she is the first one redeemed by her divine Son. Through her, all-pure and full of grace, the Blessed Trinity at last fixes on earth a look of complacency, finding her alone a creature in whom the infinite beauty fo the Godhead can be reflected.
The birth of Jesus excepted, no other was so important in God’s eyes or so fruitful for the good of humanity, as was the birth of Mary. Yet it has remained in complete obscurity. There is no mention of it in Sacred Scriptures and when we look for the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel, we find only what refers to Joseph; we find nothing explicit about Mary’s ancestry except the allusion to her descent from David. Our Lady’s origin is wrapped in silence, as was her whole life. Thus, her birth speaks to us of humility. The more we desire to grow in God’s eyes, the more we should hide ourselves from the eyes of creatures. The more we wish to do great things for God, the more we should labor in silence and obscurity.
In the Gospel the figure of Mary is, as it were, completely overshadowed by that of her divine Son; the Evangelists tell us only what is necessary to present the Mother of the Redeemer, and in fact, she enters on the scene only when the narrative of the Incarnation of the Word begins. Mary’s life is confounded with, is lost in, the life of Jesus: truly she lived “hidden with Christ in God.” Let us note, too, that she lived in obscurity, not only during the years of her childhood, but also during the whole period of her divine maternity, yes even during the triumphal moments in the public life of her Son, even when a certain woman, enthusiastic about the wonderful things that Jesus did, cried out in the midst of the crowd: “Blessed is the womb that bore Thee and the breasts that nursed Thee!” (Lk. xi. 27).
The Feast which we celebrate today is an invitation to the hidden life, to hide ourselves with Mary in Christ, and with Christ in God. Many times it is God Himself who, through circumstances or the decision of our superiors, makes us live in obscurity. We should be very grateful for this, and take advantage of these opportunities to make more progress in the practice of humility and self-effacement. At other times, however, God gives us responsibilities, offices, apostolic works which bring us into prominence, but even in such circumstances we should try to efface ourselves as much as possible. Certainly we must not refuse the assignment, but we should know how to withdraw as soon as our activity is no longer needed for the success of the work entrusted to us. All the rest—praise, applause, the account of our success of the excuse for our failure—should not concern us. In the face of all this we should strive to remain wholly indifferent. An interior soul should long to hide itself as much as it can under the shadow of God, for, if it has been able to accomplish some little good, it is convinced that in reality all has been the work of God; therefore, it eagerly seeks that all may redound to His glory alone.
Let Mary’s humble, hidden life be the model of ours, and if, in emulating her, we have to struggle against our ever-recurrent tendencies to pride, let us confidently seek her maternal aid, and she will help us to triumph over all vainglory.
When I feel myself tossed about in the sea of this world amidst storms and tempests, I keep my eyes fixed on you, O Mary, shining star, lest I be swallowed up by the waves.
When the winds of temptation arise, when I dash against the reefs of tribulations, I raise my eyes to you and call upon you, O Mary. When I am agitated by the billows of pride, ambition, slander or jealousy, I look to you and I invoke you, O Mary; when anger or avarice or the seductions of the flesh rock the fragile little barque of my soul, I always look to you, O Mary. And if I am troubled by the enormity of my sins, troubled in conscience, frightened at the severity of judgment, and if I should feel myself engulfed in sadness or drawn into the abyss of despair, again I raise my eyes to you, always calling on you, O Mary.
In dangers, in difficulties, in doubts, I will always think of you, O Mary, I will always call on you. May your name, O Virgin Mary, be always on my lips and never leave my heart; in order that I may obtain the help of your prayers, grant that I may never lose sight of the example of your life. Following you, O Mary, I shall not go astray, thinking of you I shall not err, if you support me I shall not fall, if you protect me I shall have nothing to fear, if you accompany me I shall not grow weary, if you look upon me with favor, I shall reach the port (cf. St. Bernard).