Because Mary is “full of grace,” she possesses the wholeness that was lost by Adam. Because of grace, she is “radiant as the sun,” showing in her very being the clarity of a life united with God. Such a union shines forth in a person’s actions; actions which are a reflection of God’s goodness. “The practice of goodness is accompanied by spontaneous spiritual joy and moral beauty” (CCC 2500). These actions, called virtues, “are acquired by education, by deliberate acts and by a perseverance ever-renewed in repeated efforts are purified and elevated by divine grace” (CCC1810). Grace affects every dimension of a person’s life. It is a gift of God that leads us closer to God. The closer we are to God, the more we reflect Him who is Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. fashion with beauty
Mary is held up for us as the model of the life of virtue. She is a guide in living a life of faithfulness to grace. Due to space limitation, I will only briefly look at three of the virtues that Mary possesses and calls us to imitate. They are faith, obedience, and charity. The Church hails Mary as an “excellent exemplar in faith and charity” (Lumen Gentium 53). We see her faith when she entrusts herself freely to God at the Annunciation, believing and trusting the angel’s message to her that the son to be born to her would be the Son of the Most High, certain that “with God nothing is impossible” (Lk. 1:30). Her journey of faith continues in her responses to that which occurs in her life of union with Jesus. She flees to Egypt when Joseph is directed to go there (Mt. 2:13-15); she returns in the same manner (Mt. 2:19-23); and she faithfully perseveres in her union with her Son unto the cross (cf. LG#58, Jn.19:25-27), all the while believing and trusting in the wisdom of God’s divine plan. She believed that her Son, though crucified and buried, would rise from the dead. She waited in prayer (Acts 1:14). We, too, are called to be women of faith, believing what God has revealed concerning His plan for us and our salvation.
Flowing from Mary’s deep faith, she shows her loving obedience. Hers was not a servile obedience. Rather it was an obedience that flowed from humility. She knew the wisdom and greatness of God and therefore, sought to live in conformity with it. Being obedient to God meant responding in trust to His all-wise plan. Again, at the Annunciation, she replies in obedience to the angel, “Let it be done to me as you say” (Lk. 1:36). She obediently follows the directions that the angel gives to Joseph, trusting in God. Mary remained obedient to her role as mother even to the cross, where she obediently offers the full assent of her intellect and will to Him whose ways are inscrutable. As we seek to imitate Mary’s obedience, we will find that it frees us from the slavery of sin. Obedience makes us beautiful because it opens us up to God’s grace, to His life and love within us.