Mary the Embodiment of Faith

“Throughout her life and until her last ordeal when Jesus her son died on the cross, Mary’s faith never wavered. She never ceased to believe in the fulfillment of God’s word. And so the Church venerates in Mary the purest realization of faith.”—CCC 149

This week we celebrate the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, when, according to Tradition, Joachim and Anne presented the young Mary, their only child, to serve in the Temple at Jerusalem until she became a young woman. According to one tradition, Mary was put in the care of Anna, who later rejoiced at the birth of Mary’s Son (see Lk 2:21-38).

St. Augustine of Hippo described faith as thinking with assent. In so saying, he reminds us that there are really two vital parts to the act of faith, one intellectual and one volitional. The grace of faith must for that reason perfect both the intellect and the will. What God reveals to us about himself is not just information that might leave us as cold as a mathematical formula would. God’s revelation of himself happens in time and in history and has consequences in our lives that call for action. Whether we choose to swim with the tide of this revelation or against it, it demands a response, a “yes” or “no” to the God who is the Lord of history. Faith is the “yes,” “a personal adherence of the whole man to God” (CCC 176).

Mary, of course, is the “purest realization of faith” in every sense. She is the ponderer of God’s history par excellence. Twice in Luke’s Gospel (Lk 2:19 and 2:51) he speaks of her as keeping and pondering in her heart the things connected with the infancy of her divine Son. Her beautiful canticle called the Magnificat (Lk 1:46-55) is a celebration, an extended fiat (meaning, “let it be done”), to the whole plan of God coming to realization in Christ, an event to which she had already consented at the Annunciation (Lk 1:38). Mary’s faith was such that she never withdrew that complete “adherence of the whole” of herself to God’s plan from crib to cross and beyond, and so we rightly say that she “most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith” (CCC 148).

Action Step

The Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is traditionally observed as a special day of prayer among cloistered religious. Consider what you might do to honor women religious—whether cloistered or serving the Church in the world—this week.

About the Author

Dr. Sean Innerst

Dr. Sean Innerst is a member of the Theology Department at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary; associate professor of Theology and Catechetics at the Augustine Institute; and author of Pillars: A Journey Through the Catechism.

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  • Kevin

    The memorial of the presentation of the blessed virgin Mary is not until next Thursday 11/21/13.

  • Sue

    Mary has helped me focus my faith many times – I honor her daily -wearing the Immaculate Heart of Mary medal and trying to say a rosary daily. I draw strength and comfort from her and trust in her intercession for me. Through Mary – I am closer to being the person God wants me to be.

  • Jan

    I have a deep respect for women religious. I’ve had the opportunity to work with and for sisters that oversee the care of homeless women and children and abused, neglected children. The love, consideration, and non-judgmental care provided by these women is amazing. Their dedication and commitment to helping those in need are examples I want to emulate.

    A wonderful priest once stated, “If you have a weak relationship with your mother, you may have difficulty feeling close to Mary”. This is where I am. I pray the rosary, I pray to her. I know my prayers are answered but I really don’t feel a closeness. I am so thankful to her that she said, “yes” to following God’s will and I want to follow her example. Maybe, I’m expecting something that doesn’t normally happen.

  • Mary rice

    I am confused with your use of Tradition and tradition. I have never heard of Mary being consecrated in the temple by her parents. She became betrothed to Joseph as a young lady, so what happens then if she was consecrated earlier by her parents