At every Mass, Catholics hear the greeting “The Lord be with you”—an echo of the words Gabriel spoke to Mary. How were those words used in the Old Testament Scriptures? What did the greeting indicate for Mary? And what might those words mean for us today when we hear them in the Mass?
Mary “considered in her mind” the angel’s greeting. We observe that this expression describes how Mary remained in dialogue with God’s word, open to whatever God might be calling her to do. How do you typically respond when you sense God might be asking you to do something difficult, make a change or give up something you like? How does Mary model for us the proper disposition we should always have before God?
We have learned how Mary found favor with God, which means that God viewed her as someone to whom he could entrust a lot. Consider a responsibility or person God has entrusted to your care. Do you think God looks on you with favor in what he has entrusted to you? Why or why not?
Step 2 – Servant of the Lord
Mary described herself as a “servant of the Lord.” Does this idea of being God’s servant—being totally at the disposal of God’s plans for you—seem exciting or frightening to you? Why?
What is one area in your life where you can give up your own interests, desires and pursuits more in order to be free to serve God and others more?
Mary didn’t just do God’s will. She did it joyfully, like a lover wanting to fulfill the desires of her beloved. Describe something in your life now that you wish you could do more joyfully, like Mary.
Step 3 – A Soul that Magnifies the Lord
When you feel busy and have a lot to do, how attentive are you to others’ needs? How might Mary’s example in the Visitation scene inspire you to consider others more when you feel overwhelmed in life?
Mary, in her prayer known as the Magnificat, models true humility. We learn how she comes to understand what Jesus would later teach: “Without me you can do nothing.” If someone observed your life from the outside, would they conclude that you were someone who lived as if they were completely dependent on God? Or would they see someone who trusted more in their own planning, talent and effort?
Step 4 –Keep and Ponder
How do you respond when you feel you are not treated well or things don’t go your way?
We have considered how Mary responds to the difficult, humble circumstances surrounding her son’s birth by keeping all these things and pondering them in her heart. What does this expression—to keep and ponder in one’s heart—mean?
What practically can you do to be more like Mary the next time you face difficulty, humiliation or suffering?
Step 5 – Sharing in the Sword
Forty days after Jesus was born, Mary heard this ominous prophecy about her son’s future rejection and death. What do you think it would be like for Mary to carry the burden of such a prophecy from the time of Jesus’ infancy and childhood through his adulthood and public ministry?
In this chapter, we saw how Mother Teresa encouraged her sisters not to run away from suffering, describing it as an opportunity to draw nearer to Jesus in his suffering. How do you feel about this call to share in Christ’s suffering?
Step 6 – Walking in Darkness
In times when you feel Jesus is lost to you, how might Mary’s experience of losing her Son in Jerusalem be comforting for you?
And when we experience darkness, how might Jesus’ words to Mary—“Did you not know I must be about my Father’s house?”—shed light on what Jesus may be doing?
Step 7 – Mary’s Choice at Cana
Mary at Cana is a loving intercessor, looking upon the needs of the wedding couple with compassion and bringing the problem to her Son. How comfortable are you turning to Mary as an intercessor for you?
Step 8 – At the Cross of Jesus
In this chapter, we considered how Jesus gives his mother to us as our spiritual mother. Imagine Jesus on Calvary looking you in the eyes and saying what he told the beloved disciple: “Behold your mother.” Are you willing to accept Jesus’ gift to us of his own mother?
What do you think it means to welcome Mary and have a relationship with her as your spiritual mother?
Step 9 – Crowned with Glory
Mary is rewarded for her continuous faithfulness all throughout her life. She is crowned with twelve stars on her head (Rev. 12:1). How might Mary’s crowning in heaven encourage you to persevere in your own walk with the Lord?