Mary's virtue of ardent charity, or love, has been described as the most important and overarching of all Our Blessed Mother's virtues. So no pressure writing about it today, oh no.
Ardent charity describes not Mary's generosity towards her favourite non-profit organizations around the Nazareth area, but how her love was solely focused on God in her every action, every decision, every act of her will and mind. We aren't used to thinking in the theological terms of charity equalling supernatural love, but that is exactly what charity is; the theological virtue that gives us the grace to love God for His own intrinsic goodness and love our neighbour out of love for God. Mary was so infused with the grace of this virtue that everything she did was an act of love for God.
I'm just going to let that idea sit with you a minute. Every choice Mary made, every action she accomplished in her life both big and small, every thought and act of her will was done for love of God. Can you imagine all of your actions done for love of Christ? Directed towards that love? Chosen with that love in mind? That is a powerful, marvellous thought that summons up depths in our hearts and spirituality that I don't think we ourselves believe our own puny souls capable. Or at least I don't. I picture that singular, powerful, burning love of Mary as the pinnacle of holiness. Everything that Mary's life was done out of this love, and that is what makes her the perfect example for all humanity. But how can I emulate such an otherworldly love? How to I grow in this virtue?
I know I want to grow in this virtue of ardent charity. I think if we boil down most of our spiritual struggles we'll find at the bottom the desire of our hearts to do the Lord's will in our lives, and to do His will with love and out of love. I know that my motives to love God often come from places of wanting to earn love, to meet expectations, to show God that I'm worthy of His love. These are all motives focused on myself, and done from a place where only my ego resides. I am not loving God for His own sake, because of His boundless goodness, or His limitless love.
But Mary choose to do every action from sweeping her floor, cleaning up after a toddling Christ-child, or walking up the hill of Calvary out of love for God. She held this love as the most important part of her life, she operated purely out of this love with zero self-importance or ego invading this powerful expression in her life. She made God's love known to the whole world and the entire course of history because of this ardent love. Mary's life was the perfect human cooperation with God and she is our perfect guide for living a life of virtue because of it.
Mary's life of perfected virtue is because of her relationship with the Trinity. She loved God who also was her Son, but what gave her the grace to love God so entirely was the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This is the part we tend to forget, we forget that her relationship with God was not just with the physical human person she saw everyday, her own son, but how it also was a relationship with the Holy Spirit unseen within her soul.
We too experience life with the Holy Spirit through the sacraments, but how often do we try to cultivate this important relationship? I know I waste a myriad of opportunities to pray to the Holy Spirit. There are times where I feel defeated by my own small sins and could pray for the Holy Spirit for help but never do. Or what about teaching our children about God and the faith but so often come up short with the right words? I know the Holy Spirit is the fount of wisdom, but I hardly ever remember to ask for help when making a difficult decision or in asking how to deal with others with love instead of indifference.
In Mary's virtue of ardent charity I see the true beauty and power of love. It is a love the saturates the heart, mind, soul, and strength of a person. A love that transforms a young girl into the most important woman in history. But even more mysterious is the fact that the virtue of charity is given to all of us through the sacraments and living a life of grace. By treasuring the grace given to us, by appreciating it, by praying to the Holy Spirit we can grow in the same supernatural love which Mary exhibited. That's a marvel that Mary knows transforms lives and brings love to the world.
It's been a privilege being a part of this wonderful series. I have learned so much about Mary's virtues through this series of posts, please check them all out in case you've missed any - you'll really feel a boost to your spiritual life by reading these beautiful and practical approaches to learning from Our Blessed Mother. And thanks so much to Olivia for coming up with this great idea for a series, make sure to visit To the Heights tomorrow for a wonderful wrap-up giveaway!
This post is part of a series on the Ten Virtues of Mary, hosted by To the Heights and running every Tuesday until the middle of December. So if you need some help in the virtue department, here's a great place to start ;)
October 7 - An Introduction to the Ten Virtues of Mary - Olivia of To the Heights
October 14 - Lively Faith - Molly of Molly Makes Do
October 21 - Blind Obedience - Kendra of Catholic All Year
October 28 - Constant Mental Prayer - Jenna of Call Her Happy
November 4 - Heroic Patience - Kelly of This Ain't the Lyceum
November 11 - Profound Humility - Carolyn of Svellerella
November 18 - Angelic Sweetness - Regina of Good One God
November 25 - Divine Wisdom - Britt of The Fisk Files
December 2 - Universal Mortification - Abbey of Surviving Our Blessings
December 9 - Divine Purity - Gina of Someday Saints
December 16 - Ardent Charity - Christy of Fountains of Home
December 17 - Massive GIVEAWAY at To the Heights - Just in time for Christmas
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