Modesty, a Characteristic of Mary’s Life.
The hidden life of Mary possesses a characteristic that distinguishes it from that of Jesus. We do not find in Mary that humility which astonishes and confounds, that mingling of power and weakness of greatness and obedience, which we admire in the life of Jesus. The life of Mary is always equal, always simple and hidden; it is the reign of sweet and humble modesty. Modesty formed the characteristic of her piety, of her virtues, and of all her actions.
Mary was modest in her exterior. She was distinguished neither by the severity of her deportment, nor by an affected carelessness. Humble and sweet like the spirit of Jesus, all that she had in her use spoke of her lowly condition, and in no way distinguished her from the women of her rank. We, too, ought to bear the insignia of lowliness, neither to much nor too little, if we wish to resemble our Mother in her life.
Mary was modest in the world. She eagerly sacrificed her privacy and the sweetness of contemplation, in order to go to her cousin Elizabeth, to felicitate her and to serve her. For three months she was her companion, her humble servant, making the happiness of that privileged household. When her Son’s glory demanded it, Mary appeared in public. She assisted at the wedding at Cana. She spoke no word in her own praise, nor did she bring forward her title of Mother of God, nor the power and glory of her Son, in order to rise in the esteem of men. Her modesty was such that she lent her self to the call of charity, and withdrew when she was no longer needed.
Mary was modest in her duties. She fulfilled them with sweetness, without eagerness, always satisfied whatever might happen, always ready for a new duty. She discharged all with such equality of humor that she never gave evidence of chagrin, nor asked for any consolation. She never attracted the attention of any one, because everything about her was natural and ordinary. She is a beautiful model for him who wishes to live the life of our Eucharistic Jesus, and for an adorer consecrated to His service. His whole life is composed of little acts of little sacrifices, which God alone knows and rewards. The humility of his service constitutes all the honor, all the joy of his filial devotedness, and his only ambition is to please his Master by a constant sacrifice of self.
Mary was modest in her piety. Mary, raised to the highest degree of prayer to which any creature can attain, lived in the habitual exercise of perfect love, exalted above all the angels, and forming, by her dignity of Mother of God, an order apart in the wonders of God. She served her Lord, nevertheless, in the common and ordinary way of piety. She followed the prescriptions of the Law, she assisted at the legal feasts, she prayed with the multitude. Nothing distinguished her, not even her modesty, for she knew how to conceal it. Nothing, not even extraordinary fervor, revealed in her exterior the perfection of her piety.
Such ought to be our piety. Nothing conspicuous in its practices, simple in its means, and modest in its action, care fully shunning singularity, the subtle fruit of self-love, and everything extra ordinary as too subject to vanity and illusion.
Mary was modest in her virtues. Mary possessed them all in a supreme degree, and practiced them all in their sovereign perfection, but under a form simple and common. Her humility saw only the goodness of God, and for all the favors that she had received, she showed only humble gratitude, the gratitude of the poor, silent and undemonstrative, unnoticed by the world. Can anything good come from Nazareth? and so, no attention was paid to Mary.
Behold the great secret of perfection, to know how to find it in what is most simple, to know how to nourish it in what is most common, to know how to preserve it in the midst of indifference and forgetfulness. Virtue flaunted in public is greatly exposed, virtue praised and extolled is very near a fall. The flower that everyone admires quickly fades.
Let us love the little virtues of Nazareth, the little virtues that grow at the foot of the cross, under the shadow of Jesus and Mary. We shall not then fear the tempests that lay low the cedars, nor the thunderbolt that strikes the mountain top.
Mary was modest in her sacrifices. Mary accepted exile silently and sweetly, and without a word of remonstrance. She did not esteem herself be cause called to great sacrifices, nor did she complain or beg for a mitigation of their rigor.
She was modest whilst enduring the trouble of her holy spouse. Rather than speak to him of the great mystery operated in her, and which was revealing it self to his eyes, she endured his doubts, she abandoned the care of it to God, and calmly left herself in the hands of His providence.
Pierced with sorrow she followed her Son bearing the Cross. But she did not fill Jerusalem with her cries and lamentations. Plunged on Calvary into sorrow great as her love, Mary suffered in silence, and after having uttered a last mute farewell to her Son, she withdrew, a mother desolate, but resigned.
Lastly, Mary was modest in her glory, and this is the most beautiful triumph of Mary’s modesty.
As Mother of God, what titles she has to the homage of the universe! Yet Mary retained only the anguish and the sacrifice of her motherhood. Never was she seen when her Son was proceeding in triumph; but when there was a humiliation or a cross to be shared with Him, then was she in His suite.
If, then, we desire to be the children of this loving Mother, we must clothe ourselves with her modesty. Let us make it the ordinary subject of our meditation, for it is the heritage left us by Mary. Let her modesty be the rule of our virtues. Let her simplicity, which forgets itself to see only God, which inclines to duty rather than to pleasure, to God rather than to His consolation, to love for love, be our portion, the aim of our efforts, and the seal of our life.
Modesty is the royal virtue of an adorer, since it is the virtue, the livery of the servants of kings, and the virtue of the angels before the Divine Majesty. It is modesty that composes our demeanor in the presence of God, which makes to Him the homage of all our senses and of all our faculties. It is the etiquette of His royal service. In the service of Jesus, we must be modest like Mary.
Practice: Let us try to show forth in our life the modesty of Jesus and His holy Mother.
Aspiration: We bless thee, chaste Dove, who didst bring to us the olive branch, and didst announce to us Jesus in the Host, who will save us from the spiritual deluge!