When we doubt, when the path is obscured and unclear, when we become unsure of the plan God has for our lives where should we turn? Who has walked the way of faith before us, trusting entirely in God’s will? The answer is Our Heavenly Mother. She lived her earthly life completely united to the will of God. She did not always know where He was taking her, but she trusted and surrendered herself to Him fully throughout her entire life. We are called to do the same.
In her humility and her charity, Mary surrendered herself fully over to God for His divine purposes. She trusted in His word and in so doing became the Mother of God. It was because of her faith in God that she was able to open herself up to Him and allow Him to accomplish great things through her. She believed in all that He promised.
Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, O.C.D states in Divine Intimacy:
Great things indeed were to be accomplished in Mary; and she had the great merit of believing in them. On the word of God as announced by the Angel, she believed that she would become a mother without losing her virginity; she, who was so humble, believed that she would be truly the Mother of God, and that the fruit of her womb would really be the Son of the Most High. She adhered with entire faith to all that had been revealed to her, accepting, without the least hesitation, a plan that would upset the whole natural order of things: a virgin mother; a creature, Mother of the Creator. She believed when the Angel spoke to her; she continued to believe even when the Angel left her alone and she found herself in the condition of an ordinary woman who knows that she is about to become a mother. “The Virgin,” St. Bernard says, “so little in her own eyes, was magnanimous in her faith in God’s promise! She, who considered herself nothing but a poor handmaid, never had the least doubt concerning her vocation to this incomprehensible mystery, to this marvelous exchange, to this inscrutable sacrament; she firmly believed that she would come the true Mother of the God-Man.
She gave herself fully over to God in faith and in so doing God raised her up as the Mother of the Son of God. Grace works in the same manner in our own lives. God is able to work within each one of us by the measure of our faith and our willingness to surrender to Him in love.
One of the greatest struggles for each one of us in our Fallen state is trusting in God. Our faith in the goodness God is working within each one of us can waver or falter, especially as we encounter afflictions in this life or tasks that we don’t understand. There are times when the path God is calling us to doesn’t make sense or we doubt because we lack faith in the face of the seemingly impossible. Perhaps what He is doing in us is different from what He is doing in everyone else around us, which makes us doubt. When we find ourselves in periods of desolation, the light of consolation can seem like an illusion or something of our own making. We struggle to remain faithful to what God revealed to us in prayer.
Even though Mary was conceived without sin, like us, she had to live in faith as she walked with her Son throughout His earthly life and as she stood at the foot of the Cross. She had to continue on in faith as she walked with the nascent Church after the Ascension of Her Son into Heaven. Fr. Gabriel states, “Mary lived by pure faith, trusting in God’s word even as we must. The divine mysteries which took place in her and around her remained habitually hidden under the veil of faith, assuming an outward appearance common to the various circumstances of ordinary life.” She wasn’t given all of the answers, instead she is the model par excellence of faith for all of us.
In moments of darkness, confusion, and uncertainty, we should turn to Our Heavenly Mother who shows us how to surrender ourselves fully to God in faith. She can show us how to believe in God’s working in our lives and how to open ourselves up to His divine will. He desires our sanctity and He will accomplish this work within us if we surrender fully to Him.
Fr. Gabriel again:
“The Blessed Virgin teaches us to believe in our vocation to sanctity, to divine intimacy. We did believe in it when God revealed it to us in the brightness of interior light, and the words of His minister confirmed it; but we should also believe in it when we find ourselves alone, in darkness, amid difficulties that tend to disturb and discourage us. God is faithful, and He does not do things by halves: He will finish His work in us, provided we have complete confidence in Him.”
The soul that has entrusted itself entirely to God in faith finds peace and stillness. Our Heavenly Mother did not understand everything taking place, but she “pondered all these things in her heart”. She took everything to prayer and kept them close to her Immaculate Heart. In doing so, she allowed God to unfold His plan for her life through His divine plan in His time.
We often want to rush forward of where God wants us to be in a given moment. In doing so, we quickly realize that while He may show us where He is taking us little-by-little, we are not ready for the end result at this point in our lives. We must undergo the process of sanctification in order to be ready for what God is asking of us. We must learn how to love as He loves and how to follow His ways over our own ways.
The path to holiness is a process. There are periods of purification we must undergo in order to be more fruitful and in order for God to work in us and the people around us in certain ways. If we push ahead, we often can impede our own growth or temporarily damage areas where God is working in us and in the people around us. This can bring our spiritual progress to a grinding halt as we seek answers God is not ready to give to us and that we are not ready for. We can become uncertain, anxious, and confused as we seek answers to questions of how God is working in our lives. We have to learn to become comfortable with not knowing “why” in the spiritual life. Fr. Gabriel explains:
Sometimes in our spiritual life, we come to a halt because we insist on understanding and searching into God’s plans for our soul. A faithful soul, on the other hand, does not linger to inquire about God’s actions; even though not fully understanding them, it believes, following blindly, if necessary, the manifestations of the divine will. This is pleasing to God who does not ask us to understand, but only to believe with all our strength.
When God asks something of Mary, she does not inquire as to why He is doing something in her life. She submits in humble obedience, faith, and deep charity. She “ponders”, but in the way of prayer and trust. She then “makes haste” to serve those around her and to be about the work of God in her life. We are called to do the same. When we do not understand what God is doing with us, we are called to “ponder” in prayer, but to then surrender ourselves fully to God in faith. We must allow ourselves to be led by Him.
On this Solemnity of the Assumption, let us turn to Our Heavenly Mother for aid in trusting fully in God and His plans for our lives.