By: Peter Strickland

Anyone who has asked God to help them make big decisions in their life knows that there is a risk involved, because, many times, God does not explicitly direct us down a path. We pray and pray and we find ourselves staring at two paths, both good, still not knowing which exact one God wants us to take. Here, many people freeze and panic. God does not want us to panic.  He only wants goodness and peace. It is in the moments of fear and panic that we can learn much from the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Throughout Mary’s life, there were many opportunities for Mary to panic and freeze or, perhaps, choose the wrong path. However, time and time again, Mary took a faithful risk and chose to trust that God was doing good in her life. First at the Annunciation, Mary was visited by an angel and told that she would be the mother of God. Pause, take a second to realize what is being asked of her. She is being asked to allow God to use her to be His mother. Rightfully so, she is confused and says, “’How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?’” (Lk 1:34) Then, the angel, Gabriel, says, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” In this explanation, Mary is encouraged to overcome her fear, rely on the holy Spirit and accept God’s invitation.  To which Mary says, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38)

Later, Mary, while in her third trimester, traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem to participate in a census. In the Gospel of Luke, there is no reference to the trepidation Mary must have been feeling, but again imagine having to walk or ride a donkey for days while six to nine months pregnant. Mary must have felt so overwhelmed but trusted that God would care for her without any assurances from God. At that time, she took a risk and trusted in the Holy Spirit.

Then, when Jesus was presented in the Temple, we must ponder the words of Simeon. Simeon says to Mary, “’Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.’” (Lk 2:34-35) These are heavy words. Your son, whom you already know is the son of God, is going to cause social unrest. And, the great pains he feels you too will feel. Mary must have pondered this greatly. Mary knew there would be great pain and social unrest and would experience all of it in a most intimate way. Most would run as far away as fast as they could. However, Mary, in faith persevered through all to follow God.

Finally, Mary shows us great trust when Jesus left her and Joseph at the age of twelve. Imagine losing your child for three days. Many parents freak out if their child disappears in the mall for a few seconds. This was three days in a time where immediate communication and tracking a phone was impossible. When Luke recounts this story, he describes the mental state of Mary in strong details. Mary says, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” Luke further explains Mary and Joseph do not understand Jesus’ explanation. But, Mary continued to ponder these things. Raising the son of God is a daunting task. Mary did not understand with certainty how to do so. She persevered, though, trusting that God was blessing her and inviting her to goodness.

Throughout our lives, we walk with uncertainty. We do not have perfect certainty in discernment. Sometimes we choose a path to find great difficulties. Other times, the path we thought God was beckoning us down becomes impossible. In these moments, we must trust that God is doing some good in our lives. We may have to pivot, we may have to accept that we were incorrect in our discernment, but God never abandons us even if we choose the wrong path. “Do not fear or be dismayed, for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go.” (Josh. 1:9) Follow Mary’s example and take a faithful risk.

  • Phil Alcoceli

    Excellent article! Thank you! To go deeper into the Mother’s Heart read: “Mary In The Bible And In Our Lives” (insightful, powerful!) by Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen (or any of his books). Like the article says, the Mother faced the rabid dogs of uncertainty, fear, doubt and possible regret. Would she recommend the reassuring coziness of the Benedictine Option as the only option? Never!! She would recommend it for regrouping and strengthening only in order to go OUT into the battlefield of Anti-Catholic prejudice, defamation, misrepresentation, hatred and Judas insiders. She was always wrestling with core-shaking uncertainty but always with the certainty of fierce, constant surrender to God’s Very Risky Will, the only path to Real Peace. Consider this: she was the Woman of Fire that sent Jesus into the horrible uncertainty of the Path to The Cross in the middle of a PARTY!!! (John 2:1-12)

  • Shane M.

    She did make incredibly difficult choices and always chose the Godly one. However, the angel NEVER told her that she would be the “Mother Of God.” I really wish we could just stick to the facts and not make up things that we wish were true. Catholic Men need to focus on Christ. Any other figure that takes attention away from him is based on heretical man-made dogma.

    • Ryan

      Shane,

      In order to respond to your criticism I have to ask do you believe the Christ is, in fact, both fully God and Man? This is essential for understanding why Catholics believe that Mary is titled the Mother of God. At his conception Christ was (and is) both God and man, same can be said for his birth. We do not believe that Christ became God at some point in his life or that he is just a man. He is, was, and always will be both God and Man. From this we can see that the title “Mother of God” logically follows for Mary, who conceived and gave birth to Christ. This need not be ever said directly in Scripture as it is based in nature and reason..To deny Mary as the Mother of God is to deny the very Nature of Christ, True God and True Man.

    • Phil Alcoceli

      Really, Shane?… All of Israel and the Virgin Mary are expecting the promised Messiah (the Jews are still expecting Him), an angel appears to Mary (a very rare occurrence even in the Old Testament), the Angel says she will conceive this Messiah without sexual intercourse (totally inconceivable in anyone’s mind except for the prophecy of the “virgin shall conceive”), the Angel says that the Spirt of the Lord will overshadow her IN ORDER TO conceive this Messiah FROM God (inseminated by God) and, according to you, she still needed remedial thinking therapy to understand that the one born from Her was going to be God-Made-Man-As-One and that she misunderstood that she would be the Mother of Him who can’t ever be split separately into either God or Man? You’re the heretic, my friend, self-righteously and pompously splitting hairs in the Authentic Word of God, which by the way is and has always been for 2,000 years the sure path to HERESY!!

      • Shane M.

        OK. Did you not take your medication today? I said that scripture never says that she will be the “MOTHER OF GOD.” It says she is blessed, full of grace, etc. But “mother of God.” No. Mariolatry and Christianity are two different things.

      • Phil Alcoceli

        YOU assuming that you are Almighty God and that you know whether I take any duly prescribed medication or not at all, is that divine entitlement of yours in the Bible? You assuming yourself as God and demanding that the Bible has the exact words and precise semantics that your deception wants, is that in the Bible? You talk about Mariolatry, which does not exist in Catholicism, but your Biblio-latry (which has created 25,000 different Protestant denominations until today with 10 new ones created very week- as per the very reputable The Barna Group) is so repulsive and so disgusting, and it has made you all believe that you are God Incarnate. I was a Protestant like you for years and left because of that incredibly repulsive, look-at-me-attacking-the-Catholics-while-I-twist-the-Bible-my-way attitude.

        You worship the Bible as God unto itself, but where are the words “The Bible Is The Absolute Only Source of Truth” there in the Bible? Nowhere! It’s a Protestant invention! The Whole Bible is so very humble before Almighty God but not you! You totally betray what you worship. The Holy Virgin Mary is not only MOTHER OF GOD because Jesus is God, but while carrying Him in the womb for 9 months, God Himself, she was THE LIVING ARK OF THE COVENANT, unequaled by no one in the Bible or all of history!!! She knew she did not create God but Jesus wanted to humble Himself and be TOTALLY, not partially, begotten as the God-Man by HER!!! He wanted a Mother and He got one, the Absolute Best created by Himself!!! Jesus chose Mary as Mother to expose Satan’s Big Lie that God is in competition with His own Creation, showing the Almighty is pleased to call us friends and to call Mary His Mother and His very closest, most obedient Disciple all the way to the Cross and beyond (Luke 8:21)!! God is humble, what about you?

  • Great article. I was able to place myself right there with Mary as she made these incredibly hard choices for her life.