A lovely scene opens the earthly history of the God-man. The grandest manifestation of God’s power is about to take place and Gabriel, the Power of God, is its herald. The Archangel Gabriel is sent to a virgin in the little town of Nazareth; her name is Mary and she is espoused to a man by the name of Joseph.
The prince of heaven bows in reverence before the humble maiden as he greets her, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women." To be blessed among women meant but one thing for a Jewish maiden, and that was to be the mother of the Messiah. Precisely this is the burden of the Angel’s message: Mary is the chosen one among all women to give to the world the promised Saviour. The very thought of it grips her with holy fear. But where God calls, there is nothing to fear. Gabriel assures Mary, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found grace with God. And behold, you shall conceive in your womb and shall bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus." Yet Mary had taken the vow of virginity; how then shall this be done if God was pleased with her vow? Nothing is impossible with the Almighty God. He, who created the first man without the help of father and mother, surely will know how to give the Saviour of the world a human nature without the co-operation of a human father. The Archangel continues, "The Holy Spirit shall come upon you and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you. And therefore the Holy One to be born shall be called the Son of God."
All is now clear to this blessed Virgin and her answer is a full and absolute surrender to the will of God, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to Your word." In that very moment, there was wrought in Mary the tremendous miracle of the Incarnation. The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (Luke 1:26-38). In this mystery of the Incarnation and the consequent divine motherhood of the Blessed Virgin lies the source of Mary’s all-surpassing greatness. Whatever grace had been bestowed upon her before was to prepare her for it, and whatever grace and gift was added in succeeding years is the effect and fruit of what was begun at the Annunciation.
Mary is now a spiritual vessel, a vessel of the Holy Spirit, fashioned by Him, the Finger of God, with the skill of the Divine Artist and endowed by Him with all the jewellery of heaven. The Holy Spirit has deposited in her the treasure of the Most Blessed Trinity. He has overshadowed her and beneath His shadow, the Son of the Eternal Father has taken up His abode within her. And so the Holy Spirit continues to overshadow her with His divine power and love, to protect and to guide her to ever greater heights of spirituality and holiness. According to Saint Paul vessels are made by the potter for honourable and for common uses. The Immaculate Spouse of the Holy Spirit is the vessel made for the most exalted and glorious use that could be assigned to a human being. She is a vessel more precious than the chalice used at Holy Mass, although it is the same precious blood and body that rests in both; the chalice is made of lifeless material and contributes nothing to the substance of the blood of Christ which it contains, whereas Mary has given of her own substance to the substance of the body and blood of the Saviour. He is bone of her bone, flesh of her flesh, blood of her blood. She is a living chalice consecrated by the Holy Spirit Himself.
Growing in Holiness
Conscious of the great things which God has wrought in her, Mary cannot but be absorbed in never-ceasing, loving reflection on the love of God. Her thoughts and desires rise to the Father in heaven Who has granted her the privilege of calling Him Son, whom the Father has begotten from all eternity; all her love is given to the Eternal Son Who deigned to become her Child, and spiritual canticles well up in her heart to sing out her gratitude to the Holy Spirit who wrought these wonderful things in her. She is the singular vessel of devotion, the like of which is found neither in heaven nor on earth. In the shrine of her virginal womb, the Eternal Son made the first act of His complete surrender to the will of the Father, that made Him obedient unto death and led Him to die on the cross as the victim of sin. Mary adds her surrender to that of her Divine Son, ever repeating, through the attitude of her will, the words she had spoken on the day of the Annunciation, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to Your word." And so there rises to the throne of God from the living sanctuary of Mary’s heart the incense of prayer and holy desires, undisturbed by the external conditions of her life.
God Dwelling in Us
In a true though limited sense we share in the greatness of our heavenly Mother. The same Holy Spirit that over-shadowed her came down upon us in baptism and wrought wonderful things in our souls. With the Holy Spirit came the Father and the Son and took up their abode in us, and we were made spiritual vessels. The same Word of God that was made flesh in her is received by us in Holy Communion in the identical human nature which He received from His Virgin Mother. And when His sacramental presence ceases, He still remains in us through a wonderful communication of life and grace. We are Christ-bearers, temples of God. In this blessed fact lies the Christian’s honour, the ever-present inspiration for a life of prayer and recollection.
God has given Himself to us. After the example of Mary, the full and unconditional surrender of ourselves to God must be the answer. Is it not natural that we should be ever mindful of that most precious possession of ours, the greatest distinction which has come to us, namely, that we possess and carry within ourselves the God in whose vision the angels and saints delight? Is it not reasonable that the same God should occupy all our attention? And where mind and will are absorbed in God, there our desire shall be that God’s Will be done in us and through us. By doing the will of God, we advance in God’s love, and that is holiness. The will of God is our exaltation, our strength, consolation, and peace.
The example of our blessed Mother in this mystery leads us to the practice of the interior life. The habitual concentration of our thoughts on God and the wonderful things He has wrought in us will not unfit us for active work, but rather assist us to do it more perfectly because of the ever-present God. The practice of the interior life will make Christians different from men of the world with their thoughts and desires all centred on earthly things; the interior life gives constant evidence of faith in an unseen world, in spiritual ideals. Who will deny that this type of example is a crying need to counteract the materialism of our times? Our Lady of Fatima wishes to make us lovers of the interior life through the rosary.
- from , by Father Aloysius Biskupek, S.V.D.