The Simplicity of Jesus and Mary
Any human virtue or perfection that we strive to cultivate in our lifetime is but a faint image of God’s perfection. Ironically, of all God’s perfections, the one that reigns supreme is his simplicity. And it is simplicity that Jesus commands us to imi-
tate: “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Simplicity is a virtue that deals chiefly, if not exclusively, with intention. When a person has a principal intention, when that intention aims at serving and pleasing God, when all his other intentions are subordinate to that intention and he employs all his power and all the means at his disposal to carry out the intention, then that person is simple. Jesus and Mary are perfect examples of simplicity in its highest form. While on earth, Christ had one main idea, one key aim, one important intention: to do the will of his heavenly Father, even to the most minute detail. The Blessed Virgin Mary also exemplifies the virtue of simplicity to a very high degree. Mary loved things and she loved people. They were steppingstones on the pathway of life, reminding her of God and leading her back to God. They were his gifts to be valued, not primarily for themselves, but because they originated from God. Thus in her love for things and persons, the Blessed Virgin Mary was truly simple, always aiming at God and at the fulfillment of his will. A good way to remind ourselves and to pray for the virtue of simplicity is by saying the Angelus of each day, focusing on the words: “Behold the
handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.” Fr. Philip Dabney, CSsR
The Icon: Ponder the Gospels
The face of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is filled with many teachings. Iconographers style Mary’s face to communicate different Scripture messages. Her expression suggests a sense of wonderment and pondering. This portrayal captures the messages found in Luke 2, verses 19 and 51.
In verse 19, after the visitation of the shepherds in Bethlehem, we read this about Mary: “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”
At the end of the chapter (in verse 51), when Joseph and Mary find Jesus in the Temple, we read: “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.”
St. Luke points out Mary’s attitude several times in these two passages with the description: “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” Mary continued to have a living memory of the events of her life with Jesus.
Pope Benedict XVI said Mary “learned Jesus moment by moment.” As we pray the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, we follow the example of Mary, who teaches us to ponder the Gospels in our own lives. Thus it is a worthy practice to open the New Testament to Luke 1 or 2 and read a passage as a prelude to your praying before the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
Br. Daniel Korn, CSsR