“Tell me more about the Virgin Mary? What is she all about? Why is she so important?”
I was no stranger to this question. People who know me know the love and devotion I have for the Blessed Mother. Some people understand the deep sentiments I have; others have this direct question.
…which I do not mind answering at all. Because the Blessed Mother is my Momma, I can articulate pretty clearly why I love her so much. But even those words don’t come close to expressing how I desire to love her more and to emulate her virtue.
St. Louis de Monfort outlined ten principle virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary. These virtues include: profound humility, lively faith, blind obedience, continual mental prayer, mortification of all things, surpassing purity, ardent charity, heroic patience, angelic sweetness, and divine wisdom.
In St. Louis’ True Devotion, the saint outlines these virtues for each of us to imitate. Because we are not perfect, and are broken by our fallen human nature, the practice of these virtues can assist us on our journey to Heaven.
And I like to ask Our Blessed Mother to shroud my prayers in her virtue when she presents my requests to her Son – face to face.
FACE to FACE.
She gazes on the face of her son EVERYDAY.
This makes Our Blessed Mother our BEST intercessor. Lent is the perfect time to ask for the graces of practicing her virtue.
Let us explore “angelic sweetness” as an example.
As a working Catholic momma, I have to make big decisions at work and at home. Sometimes, there is so much stress and I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders – both at home and at work. Not one to ask help until the last moment, I sometimes “borrow trouble,” as my momma, God rest her soul, would say.
All of this stress leads at times to my choice in behavior – snapping at those I love most, being cross as I complete tasks at home that help my family, and an overall horrible attitude. I am accountable to this behavior, but I can only change it by developing different behaviors. I must learn to manage the stress. I must also develop the virtue that would sustain good behaviors and speak to who I am as the daughter of a King.
The virtue of angelic sweetness is in the Bible. Yes, I know…that was a shock to me as well.
Several years ago, one of the assistants I worked with would always say, “I pray for God to put a seal on my lips!” This was usually in response to a reaction she was having to a situation with her husband. I inquired about this one day, because I judged I needed a seal, too; especially in situations with my husband.
She told me about this verse:
“Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips!” (Psalm 141:3)
Shut your mouth!
Yes, indeed. David needed a reminder through prayer that he wanted to utter only those words necessary and from Our Lord. We were to not rely on our own devices, or even act out on our own emotion.
This led me to Scripture revealing how we are to use our words:
“Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Proverbs 16:24)
“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31: 25-26)
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4: 31-32)
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3: 12-13)
Though a few of these verses deal with forgiveness, the beginning of the sentiment is KINDNESS and angelic SWEETNESS.
This has me pondering: How, then, do I develop angelic sweetness?
Here are some of the things I thought of for Lent:
- Begin each day by saying, “I love you,” to each person in my household. I have gotten into the habit of leaving in a rush each morning, praying to beat traffic and be the first in my office. This has not worked out for the best, and I believe the extra time I take in the morning before rushing out the door will let my family know I love them, and I will be thinking of them throughout the day.
- When I return from work each day, I need a moment to refresh. This means a quick trip to take care of the essentials, but it also means taking a moment to breathe. I need to transition from work to home in a healthy way. Taking deep breaths, changing my clothes, and mentally preparing can help to maintain a calm balance in my household.
- I need to repeat the words of affirmation to each member of my family in the evenings: I love you. I am happy to see you. You are the best part of my day. You matter to me more than anything or anyone. I thanked God for you today.
- When I am making dinner, I try to sing. Singing puts me in a good mood, and I do not feel as rushed. Usually, my food tastes much better afterwards! Seriously. I’m very serious.
- I ask Our Blessed Mother to show me her virtue. I ask her to wrap all of my prayers in her virtue of sweetness when she makes requests on our behalf to Jesus.
I have a long journey to make – at least 40 days. This Lent, I want to choose virtue. It won’t be perfect. In fact, I will fail. Only through the grace of God, and the blessings of the Virgin Mary will my attempt be much at all. But my prayer, to Jesus through Mary, is for the virtue of angelic sweetness.
Some of you may be wondering what I said to this young woman who asked about the Virgin Mary. My attempt to describe Our Mother was probably not great. But this is what I started with:
“Oh, I love Momma Mary. She’s my mother. Jesus loved His mother. He gave her to us, and He never refused her requests. So, I go to her as a daughter, and I ask her to take requests to her Son, wrapped in her virtue. I love Momma Mary.”
Such inadequate words for the Queen of Heaven, Queen of My Heart, Model of all Virtue: Our Blessed Mother. May she walk this journey toward her Son with you this Lent.