2020 is going to be a memorable year for many of us: the year of COVID, the year of bushfires, the year of floods, the year of Zoom calls.
The past six months have challenged us to rely more on God and less on ourselves, to see Him through all of the challenges we have faced and will continue to face.
Through the thick of social isolation, I knew that I was being called to grow deeper in my faith, to get closer to Christ. However, He was calling me to a relationship, through Him, in a way I had not explored before, through the heart of His mother, Mary.
It is so often assumed that young Catholic women have a strong relationship with Mary. For me, that was not the case. I struggled to find any common ground between us; she seemed so ‘perfect’ and ‘virtuous’ and I knew that I could never be ‘like’ her. I wanted to form a connection and be inspired by someone who really struggled, having the effects of original sin and not being full of grace.
I brought up these concerns with a priest earlier this year and he explained to me that forming a devotion to Our Lady is the best way to love and trust Jesus. Of course, I wanted to do that! I wanted to love Jesus with everything that I had, to trust Him with my life and to give it all to Him. But I didn’t want to do it through Mary.
He suggested that I go and have a read through the beginning of the Gospel of Luke, call on the Holy Spirit and reflect on the Annunciation. And so I did. The following day I took my Bible to adoration, flicked open to the Gospel of Luke and had a read. I scrutinised the text, trying to find something – anything – that might provide potential for a relationship with Mary.
God is truly good, and I was really drawn to the moment of Mary’s ‘yes’:
“Then Mary said: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1.38)
Mary’s “yes”, her fiat and surrender to the will of God changed the face of history; it was only by her obedience that Christ could come into the world. If it wasn’t for her, I would not be here, the Catholic faith would not exist, and my soul would not be saved. Mary didn’t know what was going to happen following the Annunciation, but she surrendered her own desires and ambitions to God and became the handmaid of the Lord. As a result of her humility and faith, she changed the course of history.
I would love to have her virtues, to have a heart so tender and full of love, and I’ve learnt that this is possible! Mary is wanting to show us and intercede for us, so that we might be granted the graces to say ‘yes’ to God, just like she did. She has such an immense love for each of us and she is waiting for us to ask for help.
Too often, I get so caught up and distracted with the possibilities of what could happen, and the things that could go wrong, that I don’t listen to what God is asking of me in the PRESENT moment. The ‘ifs, buts and maybes’ paralyse me and stop me from being the woman that I am called to be. It’s in these moments that I’m learning to call on my mother Mary, asking her to grant me the graces I need to keep moving forward, to say ‘yes’ to the will of God. And who knows, perhaps if I say yes, just like Mary did, maybe I’ll change the course of history too, in my own little way.
Jennifer Healey is the Youth Coordinator at Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Rouse Hill.
This article was originally featured in the Spring 2020 Edition of the Catholic Outlook Magazine.