This is a statue I bought in 2002 in Lourdes, France. I’ve always loved it for its simplicity, and for Mary’s posture. The sign in the shop said that it was called The Annunciation, and it certainly captures that moment when a young girl from Galilee opened her heart and said, “This wasn’t the future I planned to have, but okay. I’ll take it.”
But Mary’s life involved more than just one moment of decision. Her life must have been a constant process of discerning, of adapting, of deciding how to proceed, of listening for the voice of God in confusing moments.
Two months ago, the folks at Charis Ministries — a Jesuit ministry dedicated to helping young adults recognize God in their lives — asked me to write a reflection for their May newsletter. It’s about Mary and Ignatian spirtuality. Here’s an excerpt:
If you read the Gospels with an eye for what Mary experienced, it’s clear that even once she’d embraced her vocation, the periods of uncertainty kept on coming. Time and again, Mary faces situations where there are more questions than answers. She’s about to give birth, and there is no bed available in town. Her teenage son is lost for days. As an adult, her son gathers powerful enemies at every turn. He is arrested and beaten. He lies dead in a tomb.
Throughout Mary’s life, she faced many challenges that she could not have predicted when she signed on to the job. She is a good reminder that identifying your vocation is huge, but the work doesn’t end there. In the course of living our vocations, we constantly find ourselves doing mini-discernments in situations when there is no obvious answer on how to proceed.
You can read the rest over at the Charis Ministries page. (And while you’re there, be sure to check out their retreat offerings and other spiritual resources.)