Humility Of The Blessed Virgin Mary
1. Mary, Mother of God, humility is the virtue you especially practised from childhood. The saints tell me that it is the foundation and guard of all virtues, since without humility a soul can possess no other virtue. Your loving Son came to teach this virtue to mankind by His example, and He desired that we should especially strive to imitate Him, for He said,“Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11, 29). As you were the first and most perfect disciple of Jesus in all the virtues, you were the first and most perfect disciple also in humility. First of all, because of your humility you merited to be exalted above all creatures.
The first characteristic of humility of heart is a humble opinion of oneself. You always had so lowly an opinion of yourself that, although you realized how many more graces and favors were bestowed upon you than upon others, you still preferred all others before yourself. Of course, you never thought of yourself as a sinner for humility is truth, and you knew that you had never offended God.
Mary, My Mother, you did acknowledge having received greater graces from God than had any other creature, for a humble heart always acknowledges the special favors of God that it may humble itself the more. But by the greater light you possessed for recognizing the infinite greatness and goodness of God, you recognized also your own littleness, and, therefore, you humbled yourself more than all others: you ever had before your eyes the majesty of God against your nothingness as His creature. The more you beheld yourself enriched, the more humble did you become, remembering that all came to you from the infinite generosity of your Maker. No creature in the world has been more exalted than you, because no creature in the world has ever humbled himself more.
2. Mary, Mother of God, your humility was expressed especially in the Annunciation. You were fully enlightened as to the greatness of the dignity of a Mother of God. Though you had already been assured by the angel that you were this happy Mother chosen by the Lord, you did not stop to rejoice in your exaltation. Seeing your own nothingness as compared with the infinite majesty of God, who chose you for His Mother, you acknowledged how unworthy you were of so great honor, but you did not oppose His will in the least thing. Filled with deep humility, and yet on fire with desire to unite yourself still more closely to God, you abandoned yourself entirely to the Divine will and answered, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word” (Luke 1, 38).
Mary, My Mother, you showed your humility by striving to conceal from others the gifts you received from God. You concealed even from your beloved spouse, Saint Joseph, the important fact that you were the chosen Mother of God, and you awaited God’s good pleasure to reveal the great mystery to him.
In your humility you refused praise, giving all the praise and glory to God. When your cousin Saint Elizabeth greeted you as blessed among women, you answered, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior because he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaid” (Luke 1, 46). You humbled yourself so deeply because you knew that of and by yourself you were nothing and had nothing. Therefore, you gave your praise to the Creator and Giver of every good and perfect gift.
In your humility you wished to serve others rather than to be served. You visited the house of Zachary to serve your cousin Elizabeth for three months. Later in the public life of Jesus, you sought no attention. At one time when you wanted to speak with Jesus, your humility forbade you to enter the house where He was preaching until you were asked to do so.
In your humility you gladly suffered contempt with Jesus. We do not find you in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, when your divine Son was received with so much honor by the people. But we do find you standing beneath the cross on Calvary, when your Son was derided and mocked. You did not shrink from the disgrace of being recognized as the Mother of one condemned to die a shameful death.
3. Mary, Mother of God, teach me to be truly humble. Since I sincerely love you, I want to follow your example; this is the greatest honor I can pay you. For my proud nature, humility is most difficult to practise. But I can never be your true child if I am not humble. You invite none to come to you but the lowly of spirit. It is under the mantle of humility that you will protect me. Clothe me with your own humility.
Teach me the real kind of ambition, that is, greatness in God’s eyes. Only childlike humility entitles me to the first place in God’s estimation and consequently, in heaven also. The degree of childlike humility I have attained in life will be the degree of my greatness in heaven. Help me to see that humility is nothing more nor less than a just and equal judgment of myself, my talents, my opportunities and the use I make of them.
Humility is not belittling myself, but taking the place which rightly belongs to me, not a higher place, nor a lower, but the true and just place where God wants me. For if I have any ability, any worth or goodness, the glory is not mine, but God’s. Without God I can do nothing. All that I am or have. He has given me. This is truly your spirit, as you expressed it at the Visitation: “Behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed: because he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name” (Luke 1, 48).
Mary, My Mother, I beg you for this humility which is so necessary for me that without it I cannot enter God’s kingdom, as Jesus reminded His disciples, “Unless you turn and become like little children, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18, 3). I beg you for this humility which is loved both by God and men for in it lies something sublime—a living resemblance to Jesus and to you.
Blessed Mother, teach me humility. Help me to become a child in your school. Let me know nothing else except this entire surrender of myself to God, this simple childlike act of the heart, as I cast myself into the Arms of Jesus and promise Him my fidelity. To love Jesus, to do His will, to accept all from His hands—let this be my humility, as it was yours!