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Powerful words

The words can trigger tears of joy… or of panic! For some, these words can be devastating. For others, great happiness.

As we approach the feast of the Immaculate Conception my mind walked corridors I have never explored before.

I and countless others have speculated about Mary’s reaction to learning not only that she would soon become pregnant by the overshadowing of the Spirit. We know she pondered in her heart all the words the angel spoke to her. She had some idea that her pregnancy would be the most special in all of history.

But she probably never dreamt of the specifics. Probably only in her Assumption into heaven did she understand the specifics of her role and what it would involve.

What about Mary’s mother Ann?

But I have never wondered about what Mary’s mother, Ann, might have thought when she became aware that she was pregnant.

We can only speculate. Chances are that Ann, Jesus’ grandmother, would have been very happy that she was pregnant. (Have you ever wondered about Jesus’ relationship with his grandmother? That is another corridor to explore.)

The specific corridor I wandered down was whether St. Ann had any idea she would be bearing a little girl who would be chosen to be the mother of God. I think not. She simply walked by faith in her daily life.

Do we understand how our lives and actions fit in God’s plan?

As I followed that thought I began to think about how little we know about the impact of our lives as instruments of God’s providence.

Sometimes it is only years later we discover the impact of our actions. Over my forty years of teaching, I have been surprised when reconnecting with a student. The surprise would be when they told me the impact on them of something I said or did at the time. It was only then I understood.

So many things to celebrate….

December 8 has long been a special day for the Vincentian Family. It marks not only the Feast of the Immaculate Conception but also

  • the canonical establishment of the Confraternity of Charity- 1617
  • the day on which the first group of the Ladies of Charity in the United States gathered at St. Vincent’s Church in St. Louis – 1857
  • one of the significant feasts chosen by the Society of St. Vincent DePaul in 1834
  • the day on which many groups of the Sisters of Charity Federation renew their vows.

I think we are most times in the same position of Mary’s mother Ann when she learned she was pregnant with Mary. We do not know how our lives and experiences are being used by God to show divine love.

Each of these events we celebrate on December 8 set in motion actions that we will only understand when we see the sweep of salvation history.

  • The first members of the Confraternities of Charity never dreamed of the far-reaching impact of that first meeting.
  • Nor would the first members of the Ladies of Charity have thought about how their commitment would inspire others to follow them.
  • The members of the Society have long served others under the protection of Mary but may not be aware of what that meant in their service.
  • The many groups in the Sisters of Charity Federation saying yes just as Mary’s mother Ann and Mary herself did will have tremendous impact..

As we celebrate Mary’s conception let us

  • Have faith with her Mary’s mother Ann that everything she experienced was part of God’s plan.
  • Hope that we will be faithful.
  • Recommit ourselves to living out charity in our ordinary lives.

Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk.

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