It is delightful, Dear Mary, to reflect upon your birth. We are so very accustomed to wishing people "Happy Birthday," but I don't think I've really taken the time to acknowledge your birthday in a personal way. I don't think I've stopped to thank God for the day you were born.
It must have been an amazing day in the history of creation. I'm sure it was an ordinary day in Nazareth. Of course, your parents were excited, as were neighbors and friends. None of them could have known about the rejoicing in heaven on that day. It was the plan of the Trinity to send the Second Person to become one of us, to save this human race from its mad free fall into sin and death. That plan was about to come to pass.
Your conception opened the door to salvation for us all. By God's grace, the saving grace your Son would win for us, which would liberate all of us from sin and death's power, touched you there and then. You would be free. You would be born, "full of grace."
On the human level, I have many questions. I wonder if the sun was shining all day that day. Did the birds sing more joyfully that morning? Did a very young boy, named Joseph, hear about your birth, perhaps just a few homes down the street from his?
I thank you, Mary, for your life. I thank you for your openness and for your "yes." I thank you for how you raised Jesus to be so full of compassion and to be a friend of sinners and the poor. I thank you for being such a strong and comforting presence to the Apostles in those early days of waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Most of all I personally thank you for your role in my life. As you know, I didn't really have any personal devotion or anything one might call a "friendship" with you before I made the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. It was there, following his life story, and asking you over and over again to help me, that I came to know you and appreciate your care and availability in our lives.
So, today, Mary, on your birthday, I want to simply and sincerely ask you the prayer Ignatius would pray to you: Dear Mary, place me with your Son. Let me know him, love him and serve him more closely. Stand guard over my heart and let his gift of peace remain there, when the everyday disturbances of life threaten to take it away. And, finally, holy Mary, Mother of my God, pray for this sinner, now and at the hour of my death.
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