All for the Heart of Jesus through the Heart of Mary!

The Mature Disposition of Heart for our Apostolic Life
Total Personal Availability to the Movements and Gifts of the Holy Spirit and Total
Availability of the Personal Gifts at the Service of the Community Mission

Sr. Mary Amanda, sctjm 

This thesis will be a discussion of the mature disposition of heart necessary for apostolic life in the institute of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary.  The dimensions of a mature disposition of heart are total personal availability to the movements and gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as total availability of the personal gifts at the service of the community mission.

The words ‘total availability’ in the title of my thesis stood out for me as important and to be emphasized.  I believe this total availability can be summed up, in a large degree, by the words of the Blessed Mother at the wedding feast at Cana:  “do whatever He {Jesus} tells you.”[1]  For our spiritual life, this is crucial.   Hence, the best example I could think of regarding this maturity of heart requiring total availability to the will of God is Our Lady.  Thus, after a brief discussion on the meaning and elements of maturity, I will then concentrate on what this means for a Servant by primarily focusing on dimensions of Mary’s total availability.  I will focus on her openness and receptivity, particularly seen in the annunciation - her fiat to God’s designs for her and the world - as well as the Marian virtues that are a necessary part of this mature disposition of heart, and that are held out for our imitation.  There will be a particular emphasis on the important virtues of humility and obedience which make this mature total availability possible, giving as well examples of saints who have modeled these two virtues in their life.  I will next discuss how the proper disposition of our heart requires a mature understanding of love – namely that it is a choice we make and is enduring because it is not based on emotions.  I will next present a reflection on what role the Holy Spirit and His gifts have in our religious life, as well a focus on the meaning of what the personal gifts are and how they are to be at the service of the community mission.  I will then conclude with a reflection on how love will triumph through the merciful hearts of Jesus and Mary, whom we are called to imitate, serve, and love with the totality of our person.

First, I will give a definition of maturity.   Maturity means the quality or state of being mature.  To be mature means to have completed natural growth and development, and is related to being an older adult - a condition of full development.  It could also mean based on careful consideration (i.e. a mature judgment).[2]  To be mature is also to be responsible.  Responsibility means being able to answer for ones conduct or actions, and being accountable for them.  It means being reliable and trustworthy.[3]  Being mature also means to be disposed and ready, and not being distracted by unimportant things.  To do so we must have our priorities in order.  The call to maturity and responsibility is precisely what the Lord wants from us following the theme for this year 2009:  ‘Family: home and school of love and responsibility.’  What does this mean to the spiritual life, and how does this transfer to the heart?

Maturity I believe is doing the will of God as it is presented to us.  It means saying yes to Him and His designs.  In order to have a mature heart, it is important to have a deep interiority of prayer.  The best example we have shown of this availability to God’s will, particularly for our institute, is reflected in the beauty of our Blessed Mother.  Her total availability to the Lord is seen particularly in her fiat given to God, which is reflected most clearly in the awesome event of the Annunciation.  Here, she gives us the best witness of her life consisting of doing whatever the Lord told her.  I will now look more closely at the event of the Annunciation, in order to better understand the magnitude of Mary’s openness which allowed her fiat to be spoken from her heart to God’s.  The magnitude of her yes resounds even today. 

Our Lady’s Fiat at the Annunciation

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.  And coming to her, he said, ‘Hail, favored one!  The Lord is with you.’  But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.  Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favor with God.  Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’  But Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?’  And the angel said to her in reply, ‘They holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.  And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”  Mary said, Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.  Then the angel departed from her.[4]  

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to the Virgin Mary in Nazareth, who was espoused to, although not yet living with, St. Joseph.[5]  The angel came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace.”[6]  The Angel’s greeting to Mary literally translated means “Rejoice, full of grace.”[7]  Grace comes from the same root as the word, ‘joy.’[8]  It is an announcement of Messianic joy, an invitation for all humanity to rejoice from the innermost depths of their being.  This is because, ultimately, the reason for our sadness is the power of death and suffering.  With the Incarnation, Jesus will vanquish them both.[9]  The word grace in the proper and deepest sense of the word is not something God gives but is actually God Himself.  Redemption therefore means that God gives Himself to us.[10]  “Full of grace” also means that Mary is one who has opened herself entirely, and has placed herself in God’s hands without fear for her own fate.[11]  Mary is ‘full of grace’ as announced by the angel, and her Son is as well, as St. John tells us in the Gospel, “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”[12]  He is the light.  Additionally, this ‘fullness of grace’ was a preparation for her maternity, as she is the Mother of Divine Grace who has been especially favored by God.[13]  The title full of grace is also recognized by the Church as Mary being conceived without original sin.  She who was the Savior’s Mother had to have a perfectly holy, completely sinless origin.[14]

Mary is dismayed by the Angel’s greeting, and pondered or considered what sort of greeting this might be.  The word St. Luke uses for “consider” derives from the Greek root of the word, ‘dialogue.’[15]  Therefore, Mary enters into an interior dialogue with the Word in order to explore its depths.  We too must enter into a communication with God in our hearts through deep prayer.  The Angel calmed her fears by saying, “Fear not, Mary, for thou has found favor with God.”[16]  With these words, Our Lady must have been able to perceive immediately that this greeting was in a special way for her, and that something unusual was about to happen in her life.[17] 

The angel goes on to say that she will conceive and bear a son.   She was well versed in Scripture, and understood that in God’s plan there would be the coming of the Redeemer.  She wonders how this could take place, and thus needed clarification:[18]  “The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you . . . the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”[19]  This moment of illumination was the culminating point of her entire life.[20]  Mary did not yet understand the whole meaning of the heavenly message, but she trusted God and replied, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  Be it done to me according to thy word.”[21]

Mary said “Behold I am.”  I am.  I am who?  ‘I am the servant of the Lord.’  Herein lies Mary’s great assent – her yes to God, with the totality of her person, not holding anything back from Him.[22]  Cardinal Ratzinger, now known as His Holiness Benedict XVI, said that the scene of the Annunciation was like a marriage proposal from God, to which Mary, on behalf of the human race, said yes.  With this yes, she represented the whole of humanity.[23]  He also told us:  “The Word of God who wills to take flesh in Mary needs a receptive Yes that is spoken with the whole person, spirit and body, with absolutely no restrictions . . .”[24]  Receiving and letting in are not passive – in relation to God and to faith, they are rather active.  Mary was conceived immaculate, and had an openness to every disposition of God.  Mary’s yes did not contain even a shadow of hesitation.  It is a yes that includes her whole person, both body and soul.[25]  

If everything in Mary rests upon her ‘yes’ to God, this yes is nothing other than a perfect echo of Christ’s yes to God: “I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of Him who sent me.”[26]  Mary was the first to utter this yes, which made the incarnation possible.  Both Christ’s yes and Mary’s yes are fully interwoven.[27]   

It is in God’s designs that the consent of Mary was essential to our redemption, and many early church fathers attest to this (St. Cyril, St. Augustine, etc) as well as many later saints (St. Thomas Aquinas, for instance).[28]  It does not mean that God in His plans was bound by the will of a creature, but only that the consent of Mary was foreseen for all eternity.[29]  He chose her.  As Scripture says, “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you to go and bear fruit that will last.”[30]  This is the mystery of God’s election. 

It took a lot of faith for Mary to say ‘yes’ to God.  There is a parallel that can be seen between Abraham, the father of believers, and Mary, the mother of believers.  Benedict XVI says that “faith includes steadfastness, confidence, and devotion, but also obscurity.”[31]  Man’s relation to God, the soul’s open availability for him, is characterized as faith.  The parallel between Mary and Abraham begins in the joy of a promised son, but continues until the dark hour of the Crucifixion of Christ.  Abraham is the father of faith, and Mary the mother.[32] 

With Our Lady’s assent, Mary welcomes the Holy Spirit into herself, into her chaste womb.  The Word becomes flesh in her.  St. Augustine stated that Mary conceived first in her heart and then in her womb.  He said when commenting on the Gospel of the Annunciation:  ‘The angel announces; the Virgin listens, believes, and conceives.  Christ is believed and conceived through faith.  The Virgin Mary first conceived in her heart, and then fruitfulness came to the Mother’s Womb.’[33]   In a unique way the face of the Son belongs to Mary.  It was in her womb that Christ was formed.[34]  Therefore, the Son of God’s humanity and His human features came from Our Lady.  It is interesting to the note that Mary’s yes at the Annunciation is a yes not only to Christ, the God Man, but also to the Holy Trinity – God Himself.   God the Father announces, and the Son is conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.[35] 

Maturity Requires Availability:  Openness and Receptivity

What can we learn from this event of the Annunciation?  We can see in Our Lady a perfect receptivity and availability, her profound openness.  Only a heart as pure and receptive as Our Lady’s could hear and respond to this message.  Her yes is primarily a disposition of soul and heart.  It is essential that we keep our heart detached from everything but God, and all things in and through God.[36] 

Everyone should accept the will of God as soon as they know it with an immediate acceptance.  Mary did not ask time to think it over, nor did she need it.  Her answer is ‘fiat.’  It is definite and has a finality to it.  Mother Adela says that Our Lady gave her fiat with the totality of herself – of her person - at the service of God and His people.  This is how it must be for us as well.  As Servants we must give a total, free fiat to the Lord.[37]   We are not to give only part of ourselves, but to make a complete gift of ourselves.  We give the uniqueness of our person to be only for Him.  Mother says the strength of the community is in this personal fiat of each individual heart, which comprises everything we are and do.[38]   Yet the Lord does not ever destroy man’s freedom.  It is He who made us free.  He wants our decisions to come from the depths of our heart, which also makes it more meaningful.[39]

Mary’s heart was fertile soil for the Lord, because it was open to receive Him.  In her heart, the events of Christ’s life found space to abide, and in this way they could gradually unveil their depth and fullness of meaning.[40]  As Mother says:  “It is the Marian Heart:  totally available to the will of the Father and to the action of the Holy Spirit to become a sanctuary; a dwelling Tent; . . .  the sacred soil where the seed of God can be planted.”[41]  Our own hearts must be like this as well.  The seed, the holy word of God, needs a soil to receive Him, where it could grow, develop, and blossom.  All graces must be received, treasured, and cared for.  As Jesus explains in the Gospel of Mark, “Some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, it came up and grew and yielded a hundredfold.”[42]  This example is the person who hears the Word, accepts it, and allows it to bear fruit abundantly.  They did not allow the devil to steal the word of God away from them, or worldly anxieties or cares to choke the word, or allow it to not take deep root in their souls in order to persevere lovingly under trial and unto the end.[43]  Mother Adela states that Jesus was probably alluding to His Mother when he spoke about the rich soil, as she is the most perfect, rich and fruitful soil.  Her virginal heart was the fertile soil for the seed, because she was perfectly receptive.[44]  She had a pure and humble heart that was totally dedicated to loving God - she was completely available and generously disposed to His designs.  Love that is pure, total, and unconditional becomes powerfully life-giving.  Mary conceived the Word, the promise to humanity of God’s love.[45] 

The Scriptures tell us that Mary “kept all these things in her heart.”[46]  She fits the details of Christ’s life into a whole picture, and then preserves them, so that the outward event finds a place inside her heart to abide.[47]  The memories of Jesus were always with her leading her to reflect on the moments of her life spent at Christ’s side.[48]  Her contemplation is a remembering.  Remembrance in the biblical sense is a making present of the works brought about by God.[49]  We too should ponder and treasure all the things of God in our heart.  By doing so we protect the soil of our hearts so that the seed of the word of God can be deeply planted in them.  We must take care of the soil through internal recollection and mature discernment.  Being careful and mature is to be responsible, recognizing that the Word is a treasure we must guard.[50] 

We are not always going to understand the things of God, but we try to penetrate them, pondering the action of God in our lives.  For example, when the twelve year Jesus was lost from Mary and Joseph for three days and then found in the temple, they did not understand fully when He replied to them, “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?”[51]  Benedict XVI says that, “Even for the believing man who is entirely open to God, the words of God are not comprehensible and evident right away.”[52]  Where there is no humility to accept the mystery, to carry it to term, the seed of the word has fallen on rocky ground and has found no soil.  Mary kept all the things Jesus spoke in her heart and treasured them, carrying the word to term.  By Mary’s enduring attitude of openness to God’s word, she is able to welcome the Holy Spirit into herself.  She receives the word so totally it becomes flesh in her.[53]  We have to allow this to happen to us.  We should give the word a home in us in order to enflesh the designs of God for our lives.  We live in trust, confidence, and abandonment to the one who loves us more than anyone else, so that we trust Him with our lives.         

Total Availability by Imitation of the Virtues of Our Blessed Mother

John Paul II exhorts us to contemplate the face of Christ in union with, and at the school of, His most holy mother.[54]  In the Christian life, we not only imitate Christ, we also imitate Our Lady.  Her virtues are the virtues of Christ.[55]  We must imitate Mary because she is the model and Queen of all the saints.  In fact, she is the greatest of saints.  It is amazing – this is who we need to imitate because this is who God chose to be His Mother.  No one has ever devoted himself to the contemplation of the face of Christ as faithfully as Mary.[56]  She knew Jesus the best.  Where do we see Our Lady in Scripture?  The eyes of her heart were already turned toward Him at the Annunciation.[57]  She carried him in her womb when she visited her cousin Elizabeth.  When she gave birth to him, her eyes were able to gaze tenderly on the face of her Son.[58]  Our Lady presented him in the temple, where it was foretold to her that her Son would be a sign of contradiction, and that “a sword would pierce your heart.”[59]  Mary’s gaze would never leave him.[60]  She is seen in virtually all aspects of His life – in His public ministry, at the foot of the Cross, as well as being present in the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection. 

As Servants, we are called in a special way to reveal the dignity and presence of Our Lady: her face, her heart, and her mission to the world.  Our life should be the sweet, pure, and humble presence of Mary.[61]  We should allow our hearts to be molded, transformed, and totally identified with the virtues of Our Lady’s heart.[62]  In addition, the Church learns concretely what she is and is meant to be by looking at Mary.[63]  There are many virtues of our Blessed Mother that lead to her having this totally open, mature, and available heart for Our Lord.  We the Church, as the Body of Christ, must also learn to look to and imitate the virtues of our Blessed Mother.  Mary is the mirror of the Church.  Like her, we too are called to be holy, spotless and without wrinkle or any defilement.[64]  “Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her . . . that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”[65]

We, as the body of Christ, are called to live a life free of sin which is a life of holiness, and to live according to God’s true purpose for humanity.[66]  Thus, the main reason we should imitate Mary is because she was conceived without original sin, and never sinned throughout her entire life.  At the Immaculate Conception, Mary by a singular grace and privilege from God, was preserved free from any stain of sin from the first moment of her conception.[67]  It is interesting to note that Eve was conceived immaculate as well, but she fell into sin.  However, the words of the protogospel (the first good news) reveal the destiny of the woman who, although yielding to the serpent’s temptation before the man did, in virtue of God’s plan later became God’s ally.[68]  There is a new woman foretold in Genesis that would restore women’s role and dignity, through her maternal mission.  She is Mary . . . and the one who will definitely defeat the serpent - or the personification of evil - will be her seed or offspring, Jesus.[69]  His triumph allows us to go to heaven. 

What sets Mary apart as the new Eve is that she, by her own will, maintained her heart free from all personal sin.  The devil never had power over her, and she is the only creature that has never been under the dominion of Satan.[70]  Our Lady is the masterpiece of God.  Even though we were conceived in sin, baptism has wiped this original sin away.  We still have the effects of original sin, concupiscence - or the inclination to sin - but we can and should fight this by the concrete choices we make to live without sin.  To live without sin is what it means in essence to live in maturity and total availability to God’s designs.

We are all called to this righteousness, or holiness.  1 John has a whole section on the supreme importance of avoiding sin or wrongdoing.  “The Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil.  No who is begotten by God commits sin . . . the children of God and the children of the devil are made plain; no one who fails to act in righteousness is begotten by God.”[71]  The letter to the Hebrews says that “in our struggle against sin we have not resisted to the point of shedding blood.”[72]  Scripture encourages us to “resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”[73]   We see this in our charism of love to the extreme, because to live without sin essentially means to live our charism of love: to walk in love and unity with God, and our brothers and sisters.  Sin brings only division and disharmony.  Our sins caused the crucifixion of Jesus – the wounds from the nails and the punctures from the thorns which not only touched His head but mainly His heart.  However it is also through His crucifixion and resurrection we have the forgiveness of our sins.

Today, there is still lasting antagonism between the serpent and the New Eve.  We, the children of God, could succumb to Satan’s seduction to sin, but through solidarity with Mary we can receive strength to combat the enemy.[74]  We can put this into practice by our acts of virtue.  Our Mother Foundress tells us that love is the mother of all virtues we could ever have and the foundation of all virtue.  It is the foundation in which maturity and the house of human heart can be built.[75]  If love is the foundation, the bricks of the house are the various virtues.  Love gives form, strength, life, order and elevation to the virtues.[76]   Are all acts true acts of virtue?  Virtues are not called as such unless they are motivated and informed by love.  For example, can one have the virtue of prudence, without charity?  No, because every virtue has to be informed by love, which is the measure of all our actions.  Love is the mother that conceives all the virtues.[77] 

Exactly how can we live in love, and what are these choices of virtue that can lead us to closer to God?  We can look at these by seeing the virtues of Mary and compare them to Satan’s rebelliousness.  For example, in contrast to Satan’s pride we see the humility of Mary; to rebellion, her obedience; to autonomy, submission; to confusion, truth; to selfishness, service; from avoidance of pain, to sacrifice; from self-glory, to the glory of her son; from infidelity, to fidelity; and from hatred, forgiveness.[78]  She is a model of all the virtues, but probably one of the most important virtues she has that especially nurtures this heart of total availability is her humility.  In order to help us better acquire this important virtue, I will now discuss in more detail what this humility consists of which is reflected so marvelously in Our Blessed Mother.  

Total Availability in the Virtue of Humility

Humility is “the virtue that restrains the unruly desire for personal greatness and leads people to an orderly love of themselves based on a true appreciation of their position in respect to God and others.”[79]  Humility is based on truth.  A key to not sinning, and thus living in total availability and receptivity is recognizing who we are before God.  We are totally dependant on God and should know our equality with our fellow human beings, also creatures like us.  Humility is recognizing that God is holding our very existence in being, in His sacred hands.[80]  If He did not, we would lapse back into nothingness, from which He created us out of.  Jesus says, “Without Me, you can do nothing.”[81]   How true this is.  We truly have a complete dependence on God.  God created the stars, the entire universe.  Who are we in comparison?  Mere creatures, dust and ashes before Him.[82]  “God is greater than our hearts, and knows everything.”[83]  St. James tells us, “You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears,”[84] and that “God gives grace to the humble.  Submit yourselves to God.”[85]  Our Mother Foundress says that humility means seeing myself as a servant who washes the sisters feet.[86] Jesus Himself is our model, and this is what He, the Master, did for His friends, the disciples.

To help us live out this humility of Our Lady, we have the examples of both the book of Job and in the person of St. Joseph.  Job was a pious and upright man who suffered a complete reversal of fortune.  Although he cursed the day of his birth, Job never cursed God.  Many, even his friends, said that his plight was the result of personal wrongdoing, or sin.  Job rejected this explanation from them, and called for a response from God.  In response to Job’s plea, God answered by referring to His omniscience and power.  God answered:

Where were you when I founded the earth?  . . . Who determined its size . . . Who stretched out the measuring line for it?  . . . And who shut within doors the sea, when it burst forth from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment?  Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth?  Tell me, if you know all:  Which is the way to the dwelling place of light, and where is the abode of darkness . . .Can you raise your voice among the clouds, or veil yourself in the waters of the storm?  Can you send forth the lightnings on their way . . . [87]  Job repented, saying ‘I disown what I have said, and I repent in dust and ashes.’[88] 

Job recovered his attitude of humility and trust in God, which was deepened and strengthened by his experience of suffering.  Simply put, in humility we have to come to a deeper realization that God is God, and we’re not.  Job’s later years were blessed even more than the former.  The lesson is that even the just may suffer here, and they shall be rewarded in the end.  Even in suffering and trials we must bless God.  “Be humbled in the sight of the Lord and He will exalt you.”[89] The problems we encounter can be solved by a broader and deeper awareness of God’s power and presence. 

We also see an example of humility in St. Joseph.  God Himself was His child, so although St. Joseph taught Jesus many things - for example, in the trade of carpentry, etc - he also had the humility to recognize that Jesus was His Creator.  How humbling to teach these things to Christ, the second person of the Blessed Trinity.  I’m sure he must have thought to himself and realized that it was he who had so much to learn from his son.  This is a lesson for all of us to stay open, and not prideful, to always be willing to be taught even by those younger than us who are around us.  We must remember the kingdom of heaven is given to those who are simple and eager to learn like children.[90] 

We may feel unworthy of God’s call, but this in itself is not humility because it could lead us to trust and rely more on ourselves, and be afraid to accomplish the task God has set before us, and that He has given us the grace to do.  It is interesting to see the different reactions of God’s call in the Scriptures.  For example, Jonah flees from God physically in order to avoid warning Ninevah to repent lest it be totally destroyed; Isaiah shudders from the first moment of his vocation, and Jeremiah makes excuses that he is too young.  Moses wanted to avoid going to the Pharoah in Egypt as God asked by also claiming he knew not how to speak to them.  Thus, they felt unworthy, but we can learn from this example that if God is asking it of us, He will grant us in abundance the means to carry it through to completion.  It is not true humility but a false one to fail to do what God is asking of us in fulfillment of His will.[91]  Our Blessed Mother, in contrast, made no excuses to God, nor was there a shadow of hesitation.[92]  She simply trusted Him.  She was totally focused on God, not herself, and this is where our focus must be.  ‘My soul magnifies the Lord,’ she said.[93]  This is true humility – looking at the greatness of God to accomplish far more than we ask or imagine, by his power at work in us.[94]    

To Live in Maturity and Marian Availability Requires Obedience to God’s Will

Importantly, to live in maturity and Marian availability requires obedience to God’s will.  Our Lady’s only passion was to grasp God’s smallest desires in order to carry them out.  All she wanted was to do the will of the Father.  Mary was there to serve God, because she was His daughter and also His handmaid.  She was linked with God so closely that she identified herself with His plans.  It is true that delicacy is one of the beautiful virtues of those who love.  When you love, you want to satisfy even the smallest desires of another’s heart, by paying attention to the details of love.  The book of Wisdom asks that wisdom be sent from God’s throne, that “. . . she may be with me and work with me, that I may know what is your pleasure.”[95]  Even the little details had the full cooperation of Our Lady with the slightest suggestion from the Holy Spirit.  This is the kind of attitude we should have as well, as His Servants.  In the heart of Our Lady the Lord’s desires were heard, perceived, and received with perfect docility, with full openness, and with perfect obedience.[96]  She lived her docility to the movements of the Spirit in prayer, and in prayer, her heart was formed into a servant’s heart.[97] 

Mary tells us in Scripture to “do whatever he tells you.”[98]  We could not receive better advice than this, and from the voice of Our Lady.  These words are profound both in the fact that they are given by Our Lady, but also in that this is one of the few times we see Our Lady speak in Scripture.  We see her, for example, speak only during the annunciation, visitation, and the magnificat, to name a few.  We should value and treasure each of her words.  The most important words I think, probably arguably in the whole Bible, is her advice to “do whatever {Jesus} tells you.”[99]  God the Father also says this both in the Lord’s baptism and transfiguration, telling us “this is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.  Listen to him.”[100]  This is how we keep from sin – by doing whatever he tells us.  It is very simple actually.  

Obedience is the moral virtue that inclines the will to comply with the will of another who has the right to command.[101]  It is ultimately to listen and to do; it is an attitude of heart before anything else.  It is interesting to note that when we examine the original sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve, they did not ‘do whatever the Lord told them.’  This failure on their part was brought about not through a hurt – and I say this because sometimes we can make excuses for people and say they did a wrong action because they were hurt, or because of this reason or that.  The failure was brought about fundamentally because of a decision to turn their hearts away from God.  This saddens Him greatly, because He loves us so much, and because He knows that when we sin we are actually hurting ourselves.  Sin does not bring us true happiness, but only the Lord can.  He knows what will make us happy and fulfill our desires.  If Adam and Eve had loved and trusted God more, I believe they would not have fallen. 

In order to fulfill God’s will we must crush pride from our hearts.  Satan tried to install doubt in the minds of our first parents by questioning, “Did God really tell you not to eat from the tree?”[102]  We need to just be simple and listen to God.  Jesus tells us, “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.  The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house.  But it did not collapse; it had been solidly set on rock.”[103]  We need to build on this same foundation.  We need to be simple and obedient to God’s word, for “the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two edge sword . . . penetrating even between joint and marrow.”[104] 

Doing God’s will is so important.  In Scriptures, Jesus says “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my heavenly father.  Many will say to me on the day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name?  Did we not drive out demons in your name?  Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘. . . depart from me, you evil doers.”[105]  Even though their actions seemed pious and good, they did not ultimately fulfill the will of the Heavenly Father.  “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire . . . holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight in . . . then I said, ‘Behold, I come to do your will, O God.”[106] 

An example of the power of obedience in Scripture is when, after the apostles had worked hard in their own strength all night fishing, the Lord told them to “cast their nets to the starboard side.”[107]  When they did so and were obedient, they caught an overwhelming amount of fish.  The Lord sees our hearts, and they must be sincere in our desire before Him:  “Let us approach with a sincere heart and absolute trust.”[108]  This is what Peter attempted when Jesus commanded him to do what seemed humanly impossible – come out of the boat and to walk on water in order to come towards Christ who was also on the water.  Peter had a sincere intention to obey and was able to do so, but when he began to doubt and lose trust he started to sink.[109] 

How can we be obedient and ‘do whatever He tells us?’[110]  First of all we must be people of prayer, looking to God and asking the intercession of Our Lady and the saints for help in knowing and carrying out the will of God.  Mother Adela says that we accede with the obedience of faith to the revealed Word of God, because this word is not something abstract, but is something very near to us, and is often manifested through tangible expressions:  the Holy Scriptures, the teaching authority of the Church through the Magisterium, the community, my superiors, etc.  We should accede in the deepest part of our minds and our hearts to respond to his will, saying:  “Let it be done!”[111]   We also should try to follow our consciences as well as listening and obeying the Magisterium or teaching authority of the Church. 

The Will of God is often perceived through His creatures, who can and should reflect the heart of God.[112]  For example, we often see angels portrayed in the bible as messengers carrying out the will of God, as we saw in the Annunciation.  The Pope is the head of the Church and Christ’s vicar, and we give him as such our obedience.  In the religious life, the will of God is manifested through legitimate superiors.  This takes faith on our part.  For religious, as St. Therese would say, superiors are the ‘visible Jesus’ on earth.[113]  I have seen how this is true:  this trust we have to have that what our superiors say is for the best.  I have seen this is my own life. 

In the Gospels we see Jesus consistently following the will of His Father, and He was obedient to the will of God shown through His intermediaries - Mary and Joseph.  As Scriptures says, “he was obedient to them.”[114]  Incredibly, we also see Jesus humbly obeying His priests in the words of consecration – “this is my body, given up for you.”[115]  Jesus then becomes flesh in the Holy Eucharist. 

St. Joseph is an example of a just man, who although he had original sin, lived in obedience to God’s desires.  He followed the will of God as he came to know it – step by step.  The will of God was manifested to St. Joseph four times that we know of through dreams.  He did not look too far into the future, but simply did what he was told to do at that moment, and then trusting God each step of the way.  We too must love God above everything – above our every desire and every creature on earth.  St. Joseph deeply loved Our Lady, but as I was reflecting on it the thought occurred to me that he was able to love Our Blessed Mother by first loving God and putting Him as his priority.  We see Our Lady doing the same, putting God first.  This is important because there is a tendency in human nature to want to earn the praise of others.  This should be rooted out in the sense that we do not put others respect of us above what God wants of us.  We should therefore follow the noble example we have in St. Joseph.

Love is a Mature Decision of the Heart

Just as sin is a decision, also love is fundamentally first and foremost, a decision.  As it states in our charism, it is a decision to choose in all things the perfection of love.  1 Corinthians gives us this beautiful definition to ponder:  “Love is patient, love is kind.  Love is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered . . . Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.”[116] 

St. Paul says that love is manifested in unity and the building up of community. Additionally, love is not only saying words, although that is part of it.  Fundamentally we see love demonstrated through our actions.  Mother says it is often easy for us to say ‘I love’ but in reality love can only be manifested in the concrete choices we make.  Our actions are how we say we love our vocation and the congregation, because love is the response of our will.[117]  It is important to learn to suffer with maturity and generosity.[118]  This means to be before difficulties, and even perhaps martyrdom, and declaring that nothing will stop me - that I am willing to do whatever He asks of me.[119]  Love must be courageous and persevering, no matter what happens in my life.  Mother says Jesus needs our determination.[120]  This means saying ‘I will go after the Lamb even if in the middle of the road I’m whipped and stoned to death.’  It means not counting the cost.[121]  These are the qualities of a mature disposition of heart and mind.  It is a heart that is profound . . . serene not impulsive, a heart that is mature and not led by any wind.

John Paul tells us that love is demanding, and is the foundation able to “endure all things.”[122]  He says that love is not able to endure all things if it yields to “jealousies” or is “rude.”  At work within it is the power and strength of God himself, who is love.[123]  

 Fidelity to the love embraced and to the love offered is a mature decision of the heart that moves us to forever remain constant to the fiat we have given.  To be able to do this we need to learn from the Virgin Mary’s faithful heart.[124]  Only if we share in the love of God can we love unto the end.[125]  Pope John Paul II spoke of dimensions of Our Lady’s faithfulness in his visit to the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico in 1979:

What does the faithfulness of Mary mean?  The first dimension is called seeking.  Mary was faithful first       of all when she began to seek God’s plan in her and for the world.  “How shall this be?”  she asked the     angel at the annunciation.  The second dimension is called reception, or acceptance.  Mary says ‘fiat.’  I accept.  This is the crucial moment of fidelity, the moment in which man perceives that he will never completely understand the ‘how,’ and that however he may try he will never completely understand it.  It is then that man accepts the mystery, and abandons himself to it . . . with the availability of one who opens up to be inhabited by something – someone – greater than his own heart.  This acceptance takes place through faith, an adherence of the whole being to the mystery revealed. 

The third dimension of faithfulness is consistency.  This means to live in accordance with what one believes.  It is to adapt one’s life to the object of one’s adherence.  It is to accept misunderstandings and persecutions rather than a break between what one practices and what one believes.  Consistency is the deepest core of faithfulness.

However faithfulness must pass the more exacting test of duration.  The fourth dimension therefore is constancy.  It is easy to be consistent for a day or two.  It is difficult and important to be consistent for one’s whole life.  It is easy to be consistent in the hour of enthusiasm; it is difficult to be so in the hour of tribulation.  And only a consistency that lasts throughout the whole life can be called faithfulness.[126] 

Total Availability to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit for the Building Up of the Body of Christ

As Servants we must have total availability to the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Firstly, who is the Holy Spirit?  The Holy Spirit is third person of the Holy Trinity, and is the communion of love between the Father and the Son.  The Spirit knows man’s heart, “. . . for the spirit of the Lord fills the world, is all-embracing, and knows what man says.”[127]  For God’s “. . . imperishable spirit is in all things!”[128]  The Holy Spirit is also importantly the Spirit of Wisdom.   The book of Wisdom tells us, “I prayed . . . I pleaded, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me . . . I deemed riches nothing in comparison with her, nor did I liken any priceless gem to her; because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand,”[129]  and “. . . with {God} is wisdom, who knows your works and was present when you made the world; who understands what is pleasing in your eyes and what is conformable with your commands.”[130]  We should ask for this wisdom in abundance. 

The Spirit is also the interior teacher who leads us to the full truth in Christ.[131]  In Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out in great power upon the apostles after the death and Resurrection of Jesus.  Just as Christ had been born of the Holy Spirit, so now the Church is born by the workings of this same Holy Spirit.[132]  Mary was among those who waited with the other apostles for the Holy Spirit.  A sound as of a rushing wind could be heard, and tongues as of fire came to rest upon the heads of all the disciples, as they were overshadowed by the power of the Holy Spirit.  In our own lives, if the Holy Spirit has come in, like a strong rushing wind as it did with the Apostles and Mary,[133] then the buildings or walls that we put up in our hearts that act as blocks should be broken down, so that our hearts are thus transformed and changed by His power.[134]  We saw that when the Holy Spirit came He changed the hearts of the apostles.  They were filled with the love of God, as the Scripture says that “the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.”[135]  This love of the Holy Spirit filled them with strength, power, boldness, and ardor.  He changed their hearts.  In fact, as Scripture tells us, “We are being transformed from glory to glory by the Lord who is the Spirit.”[136]  Whether or not the Holy Spirit is present in our lives should be manifested by its fruit.  “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self control.”[137]  These are evidence of the authenticity of His presence working in us and bearing fruit. 

We should ask the Holy Spirit to fill us completely, asking for His divine help.  We know that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us according to the will of God.[138]  We should rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, and ask for His gifts, being open to any gift that the Holy Spirit wants to give us.  John Paul II tells us that we should all sit at the school of the heart of Mary, because she teaches us by obtaining in abundance the gifts of the Holy Spirit.[139]  What are these gifts?  They include:  wisdom, knowledge, piety, counsel, understanding, fortitude, and fear of the Lord.[140]  St. Paul tells us that the Spirit distributes the gifts individually to each person as He desires, and although we are many members, we are all one body.[141]  St. Paul tells us, “there are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.”[142] We use our gifts for the primary purpose of the building up of the body of Christ, given mainly not to help ourselves, but to help others. 

Total Availability of the Personal Gifts at the Service of the Community Mission

As Servants, just as we should have a total availability to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we should also have this total availability of our personal gifts for the building up of the community, and at the service of the community mission.[143]  We must live with responsibility what is given and entrusted to our care.  The Lord will ask us to be accountable for what we have done with all the gifts He has given us.  Our gifts are to be utilized with love and responsibility, following the theme of the family for this year:  Family, Home and School of Love and Responsibility.[144]  The gifts of God are to be received, treasured, and lived responsibly, which are the dispositions of a mature heart shaped by responsible love.[145] 

I believe that the greatest gift and treasure we have is our salvation.  This is the ultimate goal or destination of our life here on earth – to reach heaven.  Therefore, we have to set our sights on our heavenly destination, and prize heavenly riches above everything.  Jesus tells us that the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls, and when one of great worth is found he sells everything in order to buy it.[146]  We have to be willing to give up everything to obtain this treasure.  Heaven is an important reason why we should be totally available and also responsible for this gift we have received from the Lord.  We have to be willing to give up everything, especially our sins – but any attachment that keeps us from loving the Lord with all our heart – which is all done for the Lord and for our salvation.

An example that comes to my mind of an example of a lack of responsibility is the story in the book of Genesis of Jacob and Esau, who were brothers.  Esau was the elder, and Jacob the younger brother.  Esau returned one day from hunting very hungry, and wanted some of the stew that Jacob was cooking.  Jacob offered to give his brother some food in exchange for his birthright, which was a special honor that Esau possessed qualifying him to receive his father’s blessing as the older son.  Esau agreed, because he said he was starving and even on the point of dying from hunger.  He cared little for his birthright, and in so doing he put his temporary, physical needs over this blessing that he would have received as the eldest.[147]  His birthright was a treasure, but he did not care enough for it.  He later came to regret his actions.  We should learn a lesson from this to always carefully guard our treasures, and not take them lightly, but to treasure with responsibility the God given gifts we have received.  We must not follow Esau’s example and let temporal goods that are passing replace what should be our greatest inheritance.  For example, our religious vocation is a great gift and a treasure, which we must not allow ourselves to take lightly.  We also see the example in the Gospel of the rich young man as well, who because of his attachment to temporal goods was unable to follow Jesus.  Our vocation is precious.  The devil would love for us to lose it, because through it is our path to holiness where we give ourselves completely to Christ, and draw others to Him.  The devil is on the prowl, “like a “roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”[148]  It is important to remember during rough times that all things will pass, including the hard times. 

Besides the gift of our salvation and our own vocation, we also have many other gifts and talents given us by the Lord.  We must diligently use them, and not bury our talents, as one man did in a parable given by Jesus.[149]  We must use our talents for God’s glory and with responsibility.  However, it is important to also remember that the gifts are nothing without love.  In 1 Corinthians 13, St. Paul says, “I will show you a more excellent way.”[150]  The more exalted way he is referring to in this passage is the way of charity.  “If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbol.  And if I have the gift of prophecy, and can comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge . . . but do not have love, I am nothing.”[151]  Our gifts only have value if they are at the service of love.[152]  It is a task of maturity to discern in our hearts what is a movement of selfishness and what is a movement of love.[153]  We must be responsible for the gifts received, and take them seriously, while simultaneously keeping in mind that gifts are not a measure of holiness.  Love brings meaning to and solidifies the virtues and the gifts. 

The fact that our gifts our primarily for others and not ourselves are seen in the writings of St. Paul.  He tells us to strive eagerly for the spiritual gifts, and to seek to have abundance of them.  Why?  For the building up of the church.[154]  He says for us to stop being childish in our way of thinking, but exhorts that “in your thinking to be mature.”[155]  When speaking here to the Corinthians he is referring to the fact that some of them prided themselves on their gifts as a direct sign of God’s favor.  To challenge them to a more mature appraisal, he says that the gifts are not because their own specialness, but are essentially for others.[156]  They are for the building up of the body of Christ, working in a spirit of love and unity.  Love is what unifies us and the gifts.  For example, if we have the gift of prayer, this is primarily for others.  St. Therese says that a soul is not holy just because God uses it as an instrument.  She then compares herself to a little brush an artist uses for his work:  “Often an artist is obliged to use a small brush of little value rather than other more expensive brushes within reach.  The fact that He uses the small brush does not, however, add anything to its worth.”[157]  We are simply His chosen instrument for souls. 

Therefore, “as generous distributors of God’s manifold grace, put your gifts at the service of one another.[158]   Our gifts are to be used at the service of one another and for the building up of the body of Christ.[159]  In a special way in our religious community, we are to put place our charism and our gifts at the service of the Petrine principle.   “We place our Marian charism, our Marian hearts and wombs, to receive and to nourish, to guard and to hold, to heal and to elevate . . . the priestly hearts, to be who they are in the heart of the Church.”[160]  This is what we are called to do as Servants - to serve and be totally immersed in the Heart of the Church.  We are called to live love responsibly in the heart of the Church.

How are we to use our gifts to serve others in the community?  Each of us has our gifts, which are all valuable, necessary, and make us unique.  The gifts are meant to be used to bring the community into unity, while at the same time retaining our individual diversity.  Each of our gifts compliment those of the others, so they all work together.  Mother gave us an example of a sister from a different institute who is very talented in singing and has become famous nationwide for it.  However, Mother says in our congregation we would do things differently.[161]  For example, if a sister is very gifted in music, she would not have that sister sing alone, but with a choir.  This is because everything we do is to be a reflection of the whole community - of what it means to live our charism of love and to be a Servant.  When people see us as individuals they should see what it means to be a Servant.  For example, if only one sister sang, people tend to remember that sister and her name, but not so much the name of the community.[162] Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that our gifts never come before a vocation.  It is important that all of our gifts are submitted to authority, especially in the religious life.[163]  Our gifts our not really our own, but are at the service of God and the community.             

Therefore, the spirit of detachment is so important, especially when it comes to our personal gifts.  We can be so attached to our good intentions, our plans, and our visions of the mission entrusted - precisely because they are so good and oriented towards the Gospel - that we often do not notice that it can become all about our self love.[164]  We tend to want to protect things – for example, this is my gift, etc.  However, it is a gift given by God and entrusted to us from Him to be utilized through the community’s discernment.  We should have the freedom of spirit necessary to entrust the mission to another if the community desires us for another mission.  We need to ask the Lord for the grace to leave things behind if necessary, or to accept the sustaining of a mission.[165] 

We could ask the Lord to move our wills towards what He wants, and thus what is best and good both for ourselves and for others that will cross our path.  If we surrender to the Lord, even if He gives, for example, our gifts back to us, we will use and live them in a truly spiritual way, in a spirit of detachment and for His glory.  The focus is then not on us – my mission, etc.  It is rather, on God’s.  All of our gifts come from Him anyway, and are at His service through the community. 

The Merciful Hearts of Jesus and Mary           

As we have discussed, to be totally available is to live free of sin.  However, it also means more than that.  We have to believe that love will ultimately triumph – despite our sins, failures and weaknesses.  The Scriptures give us hope that God can do the impossible, and as the book of Isaiah says, He will make a way for us, even making rivers in the desert.[166]  The Holy Father tells us that we see in the book of Genesis the Lord’s first reaction to sin was to offer man the hope of salvation, showing His generosity towards those who had offended Him.[167] It is true that the further away we go from God, the more He seeks us.  In the Lord’s mercy, He is always forgiving us.  The book of Hosea says:  “I will draw them to myself with bands of love.”[168]  In Hebrews, we read: “their sins and evil doing I will remember no more.”[169]  One of Jesus’ seven last words on the Cross were ones of ultimate generosity and love for those crucifying him, asking the Father to forgive them.[170]  In the 1600’s Jesus revealed His Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary, inviting her to contemplate His heart ‘which has so loved men and is so little loved in return.’  The heart of Christ still loves us today in Eucharist. 

With God, we should never despair, and always have hope.  This is the whole meaning of the words may love triumph!  We must believe that love will triumph over sin, darkness, and death.  Simeon gave a prophecy to Mary that “a sword will pierce your soul.”[171]  The sword will pierce her heart, which foreshadows her Sons passion.  She must complete the yes to God’s will that made her a mother by also, when the time  came, withdrawing into the background in order to allow Jesus to fulfill his mission, ultimately leading him to his death on the cross.[172] Our Holy Father is reminded of the sword that would not depart from David’s house as a result of David’s sin:  the sword that hangs over David’s house now pierces Mary’s heart.[173]  In the true David, Jesus Christ, and in His Mother, the curse is suffered through and overcome.  Love has triumphed in Jesus, and we have a participation in this triumph. 

Jesus forgives and loves us.  However, this love wouldn’t be true love unless it loved us enough to allow for our freedom to respond to it.  When Our Lady appeared in Fatima in 1917, she came with a message of the need for deep prayer and conversion.   She pleaded with us to ‘offend the Lord God no more, for He is much offended.’  Sin is what offends the Lord.  We are called, as Servants of the Pierced Hearts, in a special way to make reparation to the heart of Jesus by removing the thorns that cause pain to His heart by means of our love, in order to console Him.  Just as sin pierces His heart, only our total availability in our choices of love for Him and others can remove the thorns embedded not only in his head, but also in his heart.  Our efforts to console Him by living in perfect love, thus living without offending Him in imitation of Our Lady is only a response to His perfect and unconditional love for us.  We love because He first loved us.”[174]  He gives us His own love, pouring the love of God in our hearts so that we are empowered to love as God Himself loves.  We give ourselves to the last drop, as He did for us. The power of His love resides in me to make us capable of loving in this complete way.  We are participating in the love of God that fills us when we give our fiat to love as He loves.  Love can do everything, because its origin is not us, but God.   St. Therese explains in her autobiography that the new commandment Christ issued is that of loving the neighbor as Jesus has loved them.  She says, “I would never be able to love my sisters as you loved them, unless you, O Jesus, loved them in me . . . when I am charitable it is Jesus alone acting in me.”[175] 

We are to live as Servants a very simple life:  to live from love and in love. [176]  As a congregation we are called to live with the heart, and to have hearts willing to be pierced to give life.  The piercing is a result of our charism of love to the extreme.  To be pierced means to forget ourselves.  It means letting go of our pride and hardness of heart.  This piercing is essentially a dying to ourselves and our desires,[177]  and it brings life.  The womb is the place where this life begins.  Benedicts XVI says that “the ‘womb’ becomes a term for being with another; it becomes the deepest reference to man’s capacity to stand for another, to take another into himself, to suffer for him, and in this long suffering to give him life . .”[178]  As religious, we give life to so many through our purity and sacrificial love.

We are called to allow the triumph of love - the triumph of the merciful hearts of Jesus and Mary through us.  In summary, we see the notion of total availability and virtue modeled in the person of the Blessed Mother, especially in her total and unconditional fiat given to Our Lord at the annunciation.  We too must be Marian in our prayer and in our receptivity.  Mother  believes we have been called by Pope Benedict XVI to have this Marian disposition of heart – pure in its love, having a profound spirit of prayer, totally available to God’s will.  We must dispose ourselves, with Marian availability and receptivity to allow the Holy Spirit to overshadow the tent of our own hearts. 

To have this receptivity requires humility and a depth of maturity of heart in our understanding of what authentic love means.  We must, as Servants, be totally available to the actions and gifts of the Holy Spirit as well as having a total availability of our personal gifts at the service of the community mission.  Availability leads us on the path to holiness, or righteousness - which is fulfilling not our own will but the will of God by our open disposition in imitation of Our Lady’s and, as is part of our charism, our choices of love to the extreme.  This holiness consists essentially in not sinning – and by the words of Our Lady to “do whatever {Jesus} tells you.”[179]  However, even if we fall, if we are truly sorry we know that love will ultimately triumph even through our faults.  For “all things work for the good of those who love God,”[180] and “thanks be to God who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”[181] His love will ultimately triumph through the reign of the Pierced hearts, and through the victory of Jesus’ death and resurrection. 

May we have open and generous hearts to respond to this immense love of God for us, so that we may surrender to Him as Our Blessed Mother did in order to enflesh all of God’s designs for us . . . We should allow our hearts to be completely transformed, so that we may become perfect in love.  Fiat:  Let it be done!






Balthasar, Hans Von, and Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal.  Mary, the Church at the Source.  San Francisco:  Ignatius Press, 2005. 

Bourke, Fr. Canice.  The Power of Humility.  New Hamphire:  Sofia Institute Press, 2002. 

Hardon, John.  Modern Catholic Dictionary.  Kentucky:  Eternal Life, 2004.             

John Paul II.  Apostolic Letter:  Rosarium Virginis Mariae.  October 16, 2002.  Retrieved October 8, 2009.

John Paul II.  General Audience:  Mary was Conceived Without Original Sin.  La’Osservatore Romano, May 22, 1996.

John Paul II.  General Audience:  Victory over Sin Comes Through a Woman.   La’Osservatore Romano, January 31, 1996.   

John Paul II.  Homily in Mexico City Cathedral.  January 26, 1979.  Retrieved August 20, 2009. 

John Paul II.  Letter to Families.  Rome:  Libreria Editrice Vatican, 1994. 

Martin, Celine.  My Sister Saint Therese.  Illinois: Tan Books and Publishers, 1997.

Merriam Webster Dictionary Online. Maturity.  Retrieved October 5, 2009. 

Merriam Webster Dictionary Online.  Responsibility.  Retrieved October 5, 2009.

Mother Adela.  Entrance of Amanda into the Novitiate.  August 14, 2008. 

Mother Adela.  I Will Place Enmity Between You and the Woman.

Mother Adela.  The Word Became Flesh by the Power of the Holy Spirit

Mother Adela.  Letter:  The Charism of Love to the Extreme.  August 9, 2004. 

Mother Adela.  Letter:  The Family:  Home and School of Love and Responsibility.  June 19, 2009.  

Mother Adela.  Letter:  I Will Always be Pierced.  August 15, 2002.

Mother Adela.  Letter:  Live with the Heart.  November 1, 2004. 

Mother Adela.  Letter.  {No Title}.  September 30, 1997. 

Mother Adela.  Teaching, Sharing with the Novices:  Fraternal Life in Community.  July 13, 2009.

Mother Adela.  Teaching:  Love is the Greatness of the Human Heart.  October 3, 2009. 

New Advent Encyclopedia.  The Annunciation.  Retrieved July 10, 2009. 

New American Bible.  Kansas:  Fireside Catholic Publishing, 1987.

Rupnik, Marko, SJ.  Discernment:  Acquiring the Heart of God.  Boston:  Pauline Books and Media, 2000.

St. Therese of Lisieux.  Story of a Soul.  Washington:  ICS Publications, 1996.

Suarez, Federico.  Mary of Nazareth.  New York:  Scepter Press, 1988.    

Zenit News Agency.  Benedict XVI:  God’s Proposal Brought Mary’s Yes, Urges Youth to stay faithful as she was.  July 20 2008.  Retrieved June 9, 2009. 


[1] John 2:5.

[2] Marriam Webster Online Dictionary.  Maturity:

[3] Marriam Webster Online Dictionary.  Responsibility:

[4] Luke 1:26-38.

[5] Mattew 1:18.

[6] Luke 1:28.                                                                     

[7] Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal.  Mary the Church at the Source:  Hail, Full of Grace.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid. 

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] John  1:17.                                                                                  

[13] Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal.  Mary the Church at the SourceHail, Full of Grace.

[14] John Paul II.  General Audience:  Mary was Conceived Without Original Sin

[15] Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal.  Mary the Church at the Source:  Hail, Full of Grace.

[16] Luke 1:30.                                                                                                                                    

[17] Suarez, Federico.  Mary of Nazareth.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Luke 1:35.

[20] Suarez, Federico.  Mary of Nazareth.

[21] Luke 1:38.

[22] Mother Adela.  Entrance of Amanda into the Novitiate

[23] Zenit News Agency.  Benedict XVI:  God’s Proposal Brought Mary’s Yes.

[24] Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal.  Mary the Church at the SourceMary in the Church’s Doctrine and Devotion, pg. 104. 

[25] Ibid.                                                                                                                       

[26] John 6:38.

[27] Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal.  Mary the Church at the Source:  Mary in the Church’s Doctrine and Devotion.

[28] New Advent Encyclopedia.  The Annunciation.  

[29] Ibid.

[30] John 25:16.

[31] Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal.  Mary the Church at the Source:  Hail, Full of Grace, pg. 69.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal.  Mary the Church at the SourceMary in the Church’s Doctrine and Devotion, pg. 104.  (cf. Sermon 293).

[34] John Paul II.  Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 10

[35] Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal.  Mary the Church at the Source:  Mary in the Church’s Doctrine and Devotion

[36] Suarez, Federico.  Mary of Nazareth

[37] Mother Adela.  Entrance of Amanda into the Novitiate

[38] Ibid. 

[39] Suarez, Federico.  Mary of Nazareth.

[40] Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal.  Mary the Church at the Source: Hail, Full of Grace.

[41] Mother Adela.  The Word became Flesh in Mary’s Womb by the Power of the Holy Spirit.

[42] Mark 4:8. 

[43] Mark 4:1-20.

[44] Mother Adela.  The Word became Flesh in Mary’s Womb by the Power of the Holy Spirit.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Luke 2:19.

[47] Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal.  Mary the Church at the Source: Hail, Full of Grace.

[48] John Paul II.  Rosarium Virginis Maraie, 12

[49] John Paul II.  Rosarium Virginis Maraie, 13

[50] Mother Adela.  The Word became Flesh in Mary’s Womb by the Power of the Holy Spirit.

[51] Luke 2:49.

[52] Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal.  Mary the Church at the Source: Hail, Full of Grace.

[53] Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal.  Mary the Church at the Source: Hail, Full of Grace.

[54] John Paul II.  Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 10.

[55] John Paul II.  Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 14.

[56] John Paul II.  Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 10.

[57] Ibid.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Luke 2:35.

[60] John Paul II.  Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 10.

[61] Mother Adela.  Live with the Heart.

[62] Ibid.

[63] Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal.  Mary the Church at the Source:  Hail, Full of Grace.

[64] Ibid.                                                                                                                                                                             

[65] Ephesians 5:25-27.

[66] Mother Adela.  I Will Place Enmity Between You and the Woman

[67] Hardon, John.   Modern Catholic Dictionary: Immaculate Conception.

[68] John Paul II.  General Audience:  Victory over Sin Comes Through a Woman

[69] Ibid.

[70] Ibid.

[71] 1 John 3.

[72] Hebrews 12:4.

[73] James 4:7.

[74] John Paul II.  General Audience:  Victory over Sin Comes Through a Woman.

[75] Mother Adela.  Love, the Greatness of the Human Heart. 

[76] Ibid.

[77] Ibid.

[78] Mother Adela.  I Will Place Enmity Between You and the Woman

[79] John Hardon.  Modern Catholic Dictionary: Humility

[80] Bourke, Fr. Canice.  The Power of Humility.

[81] John 15:5.

[82] Bourke, Fr. Canice.  The Power of Humility.

[83] 1 John 3:20.

[84] James 4:14.

[85] James 4:6-8.

[86] Mother Adela.  Live with the Heart.

[87] Job 38:4-5, 8-9, 18-19, 34-5.                                                     

[88] Job 42:6.

[89] James 4:10.

[90] Matthew 18:3. 

[91] Hardon, John.  Modern Catholic Dictionary: Humility.

[92] Suarez, Federico.  Mary of Nazareth.

[93] Luke 1:46.

[94] Ephesians 3:20.

[95] Wisdom 9:9.

[96] Mother Adela.  The Word Became Flesh in Mary’s Womb by the Power of the Holy Spirit.

[97] Ibid.

[98] Jn 2:5.

[99] John 2:5.

[100] Luke 3:22.

[101] Hardon, John.  Modern Catholic Dictionary: Obedience.

[102] Genesis 3:1.

[103] Matthew 7:24-25.

[104] Hebrews 4:12.

[105] Matthew 7:21-23. 

[106] Hebrews 10:6-7.

[107] John 21:6.

[108] Hebrews 10:22.

[109] Matthew 14:31.

[110] John 2:5.

[111] Mother Adela.  Letter:  [ No title]. 

[112] Suarez, Francis.  Mary of Nazareth.

[113] St. Therese of Lisieux.  The Story of a Soul, pg. 219. 

[114] Luke 2:51.

[115] Luke 22:19.

[116] 1 Corinthians 13:1-5, 7-8.

[117] Mother Adela.  Amanda’s Entrance to the Novitiate. 

[118] Mother Adela.  I Will Always Be Pierced.

[119] Mother Adela.  Amanda’s Entrance to the Novitiate.

[120] Ibid.

[121] Ibid.

[122] John Paul II.  Letter to Families, 14.

[123] Ibid.

[124] Mother Adela.  A Love Capable of Faithfulness.

[125] John Paul II.  Letter to Families, 14.

[126] John Paul II.  Homily in Mexico City. 

[127] Wisdom 1:6-7.

[128] Wisdom 12:1.

[129] Wisdom 7:7-9.

[130] Wisdom 9:9.

[131] John Paul II.  Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 14.

[132] Ratizinger, Cardinal.  Mary the Church at the Source: Mary in the Church’s Doctrine and Devotion.

[133] Acts 2.                                                                                                                                       

[134] Mother Adela.  Love the Greatness of the Human Heart.

[135] Romans 5:5. 

[136] 2 Corinthians 3:18.

[137] Galatians 5:22.

[138] Romans 8:26-27.

[139] John Paul II.  Rosarium Virginis Maraie, 14.

[140] Hardon, John.  Modern Catholic Dictionary:  Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

[141] 1 Corinthians 12:11-12.

[142] 1 Corinthians 12:4-6.

[143] Mother Adela.  Love the Greatness of the Human Heart.

[144] I bid.

[145] Mother Adela.  Letter:  The Family:  Home and School of Love and Responsibility.

[146] Matthew 13:35.

[147] Genesis 25:27-34.

[148] 1 Peter 5:8.

[149] Matthew 25:13-30.

[150] 1 Corinthians 12:31.

[151] 1 Corinthians 13:1-2.

[152] Mother Adela.  Love the Greatness of the Human Heart.

[153] Ibid.

[154] 1 Corinthians 12:31; 14:12.

[155] 1 Corinthians 14:20. 

[156] 1 Corininthians 14:20-25.                                                                                                                                                  

[157] Martin, Celine.  My Sister Saint Therese, pg. 205.

[158] 1 Peter 4:10.

[159] 1 Corinithians 12.

[160] Mother Adela.  Letter:  The Family:  Home and School of Love and Responsibility.

[161] Mother Adela.  Teaching, Sharing with the Novices:  Fraternal Life in Community.

[162] Ibid.

[163] Ibid.

[164] Rupnik, Marko.  Discernment:  Acquiring the Heart of God.

[165] Ibid.                                                                    

[166] Isaiah 43:19.

[167] John Paul II.  Victory over Sin Comes Through a Woman.

[168] Hosea 11:4.

[169] Hebrews 8:12.

[170] Luke 23:24.

[171] Luke 2:35.

[172] Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal.  Mary the Church at the Source: Mary in the Church’s Doctrine and Devotion.

[173] Ibid.

[174] 1 John 4:19.

[175] St. Therese of Lisieux.  The Story of a Soul, p. 221. 

[176] Mother Adela.  Live with the Heart.

[177] Mother Adela.  I Will Always Be Pierced.

[178] Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal.  Mary the Church at its Source:  Hail, Full of Grace, pg. 78.

[179]John 2:5. 

[180]Romans 8:28.

[181] 1 Corinthians 15:57.


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