If the Blessed Virgin Mary Had a Gratitude Journal

This week, as we prepare for the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we meditate on her motherhood and, in a special way, her role in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of her Son.

By: Erin Healy

By our modern-day, superficial standards, Mary did not have a lot to be grateful for.

She was a young, unwed mother. Her betrothed, Joseph, was a poor carpenter. Their “honeymoon” consisted of traveling a great distance, by donkey. Upon arriving, the newlyweds pay taxes, and search for housing. And ultimately, she gives birth in a stable surrounded by animals only to later watch her only son be rejected, mocked, spat on, beaten and crucified.

Yet, Mary, recognizing her lowly status, knew that she was looked upon with favor by God. The young woman who, finding herself in a less-than-ideal situation, but with a heart full of gratitude speaks the words of her Magnificat:

“The Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his Name.”

So, how can it be that in the United States of America, where – to my knowledge – no one travels by donkey much less gives birth (by choice) in a stable, that we find it challenging to echo her words?

Probably because when we find ourselves exhausted, frustrated and disappointed in the circumstances of life, it feels much easier to throw our hands up and complain to God and our friends about how bad we have it. It can be rather difficult to step back, take a deep breath and remember the many things we have to be grateful for – even when they don’t feel like blessings at the time.  And it can be downright excruciating – in those moments – to express thanks to God.

And, although Mary probably did not keep a daily written record of her blessings, her Magnificat is akin to the most perfect journal entry, recognizing not only what God did for her, but His faithfulness throughout time:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”

We all understand the ache of living in a world plagued by Original Sin. Sometimes we experience this at our own hands, and sometimes through no fault of our own. But, I suggest we take a page from the Blessed Mother’s playbook: Whether we’re writing it down or saying it out loud, recalling what we have been given and Our Lord’s faithfulness throughout the ages – especially in those difficult moments – will surely help to still our hearts and fill us with the peace of the Magnificat. Because, who ever felt better after going on a diatribe of negativity?

Beginning today, may we never forget that the Almighty has done great things for us and holy is his Name.

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