Thursday, December 22, 2011

She Didn't Understand

Last night, my family had the privilege of attending a beautiful community penance service at the parish just across the bridge from ours. Our own pastor was a "guest" priest for the gathering; and 2 others came to join the "home" priest in West Virginia.

The pastor of the host parish offered a wonderful homily and something he said several times has stuck with me into the next day and has become a meditation for me as I go about my day.

I thought I'd share my thoughts with you here:

In speaking about The Annunciation, Father S. drew our attention to the fact, that even after Mary knew that her visitor was an angel of God...and even after she listened to his message AND his subsequent explanation of how the events being foretold would come to be...


The Virgin Mary, the one, whom from all time was chosen, destined, prepared, and preserved in order to one day find herself greeted by an Angel and asked to be the mother of the Messiah...


Mary was confused. She was "in the dark". She could not comprehend what was happening; much less God's WILL for her life...SHE WAS CLUELESS.

All that she knew was that she, like her people, had long-been awaiting the coming of a Savior.
She knew/believed that there was a God.
She knew/believed that it was His Angel who was speaking to her.

She knew of all that, but beyond it...


In fact, she no more understood what was happening or going to happen any more than WE do today...even after all these years and what we've learned since then!

The beauty of this idea is what came next.

This young girl, even though she was confused...even though she did not understand...and even though she was troubled in her heart...TRUSTED COMPLETELY and SAID "YES" to God.

She did not hesitate. She did not demand further explanation. She did not ask for a sign (though, it could be said, God offered her one in the pregnancy of Elizabeth for in seeing her cousin with-child, Mary  then knew that what had happened to her was REAL and was TRUE) and she did not stop to consider the consequences which might befall her...

She simply surrendered all to God and made herself available to Him as His chosen vessel!

We must be like Mary.

How many times do we cry out that "we do not understand"?

We do not understand why children and good people must suffer.
We do not understand why we do "x, y, and z" with our families according to the Teachings of the Church and yet, our lives end up tossed about in turmoil and confusion and it seems that those who have fallen away or have never known God to begin with, are often, (it appears) "better-off".
We do not understand the mysteries of our Faith, nor do we understand the depth or infinite components of God's love and mercy.
We do not understand why we feel so lonely when we are surrounded by people.
We do not understand what He is asking of us half the time...or if our choices/decisions reflect His will/plan.

But, even so...we can be like Mary.

We can go forth, on bended knee, in humility and with complete trust ...


We need not ask for explanation...or wait for an audible/clear answer...

It is good enough to know that He is there and that He is GOD...our loving Father in heaven.

SHE DID NOT UNDERSTAND any more than we do.

Let us, like her, make ourselves "handmaids" and invite

"it to be done unto us according to His Word".


  1. God does not ask us to understand Him. All He asks is that we love and trust Him.

    God bless.

  2. Judy,
    Thank you for sharing these beautiful thoughts from your penance service. Our human nature wants to understand everything, but that's not faith, and as Victor said, faithful trust is all God asks of His children. Someday when we are with Him we will understand everything.

  3. "How many times do we cry out that "we do not understand"? true. Beautiful reflection,t hank you!

  4. That was what was so beautiful to me about the meditation...I went there already knowing that God never expects me/us to understand...but...somehow...I had never pondered the fact that SHE...MARY...ALSO did not understand. That image was a new "thought" for me and it endeared me to Our Lady even more:)Because she was free from sin...and because she was completely faithful and willing...we/I sometimes forget how "very human" and "completely human" she was the same for me the first time I watched "The Passion of the Christ"...I had, many times before, considered Christ's suffering and how my own sins affected that...but...that film brought so clearly to me how my sins ALSO AFFECTED HIS her pain and sorrow and suffering...this reflection that I've shared here...was similar for brought about another "view" of Mary that I had never considered...the fact that she "like me"..."did not understand" and yet...trusted and served so faithfully. Thanks for sharing your thoughts everyone:)

  5. And are very welcome:) I'm glad you enjoyed this post.

  6. Beautiful, beautiful reflection! Love it! Thanks, Judy! Have a blessed Christmas!

  7. Dear Readers,

    A friend of mine called today and had an entirely different perspective and view on the topic which is reflected in my post, above. She said there is a book...on the writings of the Mystics (which, apparently, the movie "The Passion of the Christ" based many of its scenes and content on)...and she explained that in this book...the Mystics who write are adamant that Mary DID understand...that she was prepared by her parents and the temple teachers from her that when the Angel appeared to let her know that SHE was the chosen one...she understood completely...and that is what makes her submission and willingness so sacrificial and wonderful...that she DID understand but STILL said yes.
    My daughter 16, thinks that this contradicts Simeon's prophecy...for why would she "tuck these things in her heart" if she already understood them...
    Anyway...I just thought I'd open this up to my community friends here on this anyone familiar with the book (I don't have the title but can get it if we need it) and what are your thoughts about what I've mentioned about it thus far?

  8. Mary may well have understood the meaning of becoming the Mother of God. But what she had not yet experienced were the implications of saying "yes" to God - what being the Mother of God would actually entail throughout her life. In that respect we could think that Mary did not understand the implications of living life being the Mother of God.

    Mary said "yes" to God because she possessed perfect Faith, Hope and Charity and had never said "no" to God, ever. It would have been out of character for her to say "no", even though she could have.

    Mary pondered in her heart the Angel Gabriel's message as well as Simeon's message. She was not clairvoyant. She looked at her life as it unfolded with Jesus and St. Joseph in light of the heavenly announcement and the prophesies of her specifically, and because she knew the Old Testament well, in light of the prophecies of the Messiah.

    Mary shows us that we don't have to understand every detail up front from beginning to end to say "yes" to God. That God asks is enough.

    Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich's life and prophesies as well as her visions of the life of the Holy Family and Christ's passion and death served the script of "The Passion of the Christ." The Venerable Mary of Agreda also had visions of Mary's life. I haven't dug too deeply into either of their writings yet, but I would say that these are private revelations that may enhance our devotion and increase our understanding of Biblical events, but we also are free to differ with them. They express the way things could have been. If they make us love and appreciate God, the Blessed Mother and the saints all the more, good. If they lead to getting caught up in dispute then we've taken our eye off the ball, which is to have an ever increasing love for God.

  9. Hello

    Thank you for the beautiful thoughts. With regard to the book mentioned I have the whole collection of Anne Catherine Emmerich's 'The Life of Jesus Christ' as well as a compilation of other mystics' visions of the life of Mary. I wrote about them in a post here

    As I stressed in my post, the Church has not approved these writings (the most that has been said is that they do not contradict the gospel) and we need to be careful not to get caught up in the details revealed. It is best to read them as 'novels' that help to increase our faith and love for God by making these people and events more real to us. Just like the movies 'The Passion of Christ' and 'The Nativity' brings Jesus' suffering and death and his birth alive for me, these books bring Jesus and Mary's 'hidden life' alive for me.

    May all in this community have a blessed and holy Christmas and I wish you all God's blessings for the coming new year.

  10. Barb, that is SUCH a good explanation/supposition...THANK YOU! I hope you won't mind me sharing your thoughts with my friend! THANK YOU so very much!

    And Lisa Maria...I look forward to reading your post...and I heed your reminder about personal revelations...good advice, to be sure. Thank you.