The 10 Virtues of Mary
By: Lisa Dzikowski and Lisa D’Souza
Mother Mary had 10 features that made her the ultimate role model and the Queen of Heaven!
1. Model of Listening to God’s Word
Mary spoke less and listened more. The scripture says, “she treasured all these things in her heart (Luke 2:19).” This day and age, people are not interested in listening anymore. It seems that the more we speak, the better. Most sins are committed through the tongue. We live in a world of slander and gossip, of whisper and hushed voices. Mary did not listen to humans, but the voice of God (Mt 17:1-8). Mary is challenging us to stop gossiping, and to listen to the word of God instead. Hearing the word of God will make you holy. One of the things that hurt the heart of Jesus the most, that we hear repeated through the word of God is “even though they have ears they do not hear” they do not listen (Mk 4:9). Jesus says “if my word abides in you ask for whatever you wish.” If you listen to the Word of God, you can ask God whatever you want and it will be granted to you.
2. Model of Obedience
When the angel of the Lord appeared to Mary to tell her that she would bear a son, she replies saying “Here I am the servant of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). It is easy to romanticize this scene- Mary is praying, the angel appears and Mary says yes excitedly. The Word of God tells us that she was deeply troubled and concerned at the angel’s greeting, for Luke 1:29 says “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.” Mary was left with more questions and more wondering. She did not say yes because she completely understood what was told to her or what would come. She said yes because of her faith in God. Her “yes” at the Annunciation was not the first “yes” that she would utter in her life, nor would it be the last. We too, are called to obedience with the same faith that Mary had, to say yes when God calls us to obedience, whether we understand or not.
If God is speaking, we are called to listen and obey, just like Mary.
3. Model of Charity
Luke also tells us that the angel told Mary that Elizabeth was with child and after this news, Mary “went with haste to the hill country, to a city of Judah” (Luke 1:39) to visit Elizabeth. Mary took a long 100 mile trip by foot (about four days) and remained with her for three months. Since the Holy Spirit lived in Mary, she began to move. People with the Holy Spirit will move and they will move others. The angel also tells Mary that Elizabeth is six months pregnant, and she does not become upset that Elizabeth did not tell her earlier, but instead went immediately to help her. She was not interested in knowing other people’s secrets, she was an innocent girl who wanted to serve instead of being served. “Without neglecting her duties – we see how she hurries to her cousin Elizabeth’s house. Our Lady maintains a continuous attention to He who is in her interior. In her there grows, towards Him, a love that becomes more intense, more vibrant, more tender each day” (Translated from Maternidade e Vida by Joao Paulo Pimentel, p. 25).
4. Model of Prudence
Mary pondered things in her heart and reflected before she acted. She was slow to speak and quick to listen. She was authentic and completely transparent, and focused on her interior life, not on how she looked to others. When things went wrong or not according to her plans, she didn’t despair. Instead, she lovingly integrated them into her heart, keeping them and reflecting on them (Lk 2:19 and 2:51). In her life of reflection, Mary becomes an example of one who consistently chose “the one thing” that is needed (Lk 10:42). Saint John Paul II wrote in the apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, “No one has ever devoted himself to the contemplation of the face of Christ as faithfully as Mary.” Mary’s contemplation of the Spirit in her life was not passive; while she pondered all things in her heart and exemplified prudence, she also carried the Good News of the Incarnation to others. By first being prudent, Mary was then able to help others encounter with the mysteries of divine love.
5. Model of Courage
Mary had great fortitude in the face of adversity. When Jesus’ life was in jeopardy, Mary and Joseph had to flee to Egypt and succumb the scorching heat, scarcity of water and food. Mary, although pregnant, did not let her fear stop the will of God. She, too, suffered for love of God and was able to turn her suffering into beauty. When Mary and Joseph were looking for Jesus, she did not give up hope but continued to search for him with diligence and trust in God. Mary teaches us to live our faith with courage and constant perseverance.
6. Model of Suffering With Grace
Simeon foretold that Mary would become our Lady of sorrows whose heart would be pierced with Jesus as He bore our sins and died on the cross. The flight into Egypt is where Mary realized that thousands of innocent babies were killed in Bethlehem and her son was spared. She loses Jesus in the Temple. Mary watched him on the road to Calvary where he died and had His heart pierced by a sword. She then receives His body in to her arms which is finally placed in the tomb. Mary, therefore, becomes our role model. In our suffering we too can have this strength in our lives when we bear it with grace and wisdom.
7. Model of Gentleness and Feminine Intuition
Mary was never abrasive or overly aggressive but graciously asked Jesus to help the wedding party as they had run out of wine. The Gospel of John discusses a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. “When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2: 3-5)”. She had a feminine instinct, she saw the need and wanted to fill it. She knew the embarrassment and shame that the wedding couple would face if word got out that the wine was out and in turn Mary handled the matter with great gentleness. She went to her Son for guidance, just like we are to when we see a need to be filled.
8. Model of Maternity
Mary diligently cares for Jesus throughout His life. She nurses Him, puts him to rest, watches Him grow up into a man and also suffers with Him during the crucifixion. Mary watches over her son from His birth to His death and also becomes the mother of John and the other disciples. When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home (John 19:26-27). Jesus knew that others need Mary’s strength and grace. He wanted others to also learn from her witness and her capacity to love. We too, must call upon Mary to be our mother, she loves us so much and she is the perfect person to intercede for us to Jesus because she knows His heart better than anyone else!
9. Model of Humility
She didn’t “do” anything according to today’s standards. She didn’t write a book, lead prayer sessions, give talks, start a ministry, have an impressively large, rich and well-dressed family. She did, in fact, accept a lot and accompanied Jesus, even when He was ridiculed, tortured and died as a criminal and among criminals. Mary was humble and did not want glory for herself but only wanted to be God’s handmaid so that He would work through her life. How many times do we seek glory for ourselves and get upset when our hard work is not recognized?
10. Model of Chastity
Mary strove to follow this ideal because she desired to please God through obedience and because virginity brought divine union. Her purity allowed an untainted vessel for Jesus to enter the world. Her virginity became her crowning glory even though she was persecuted and judged by her community when her pregnancy became public. Perpetual virginity is a rare, unpopular way of life that our sex-saturated world cannot comprehend. Mary’s Yes to God through her spirit and body showcases her ability to have self-control and diligence. Mary surpassed her role through her virginity, her intelligence, and her diligent faithfulness and thus fulfilled her vocation through her perpetual chastity and obedience.
Out of great love for God, Mary was able to achieve such a beautiful legacy that spoke through her meek and gentle spirit. Mary serves as a beacon for women as the Queen of Heaven. Mary’s life reveals the greatness of love, God Himself. She is brave and her steadfastness to God’s Word makes her the perfect saint and role model for all of us, women, to emulate. Mother Mary, pray for us!