This post is part of a Marian Virtue Series, running every Wednesday and Friday. It will conclude on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. If you are just joining the series and want to learn more you can start here: Introduction to Marian Virtue Series.
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If I had to pick one of the most misunderstood of the Marian Virtues it would be Blind Obedience. As adults we think of obedience as something that we expect from children. As we grow from children to adults our idea of obedience changes. Instead of obeying our parents requests, if we don’t want to, we don’t have to. We owe them the respect to hear what they have to say and consider their advice, but we aren’t obligated to obey in the same way we would have been when we were children. I think this is also the reason why so many people have problems with Ephesians 5:22 “Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord.”
“Who is my husband to order me around?”
But the command to obedience assumes a mutual respect between husband and wife, and a mutual sacrifice or subjecting yourselves to one another. It is only a few lines later in verse 25 that St. Paul says: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” Husbands are to die for their wives, and don’t think he is just talking literal death here. He means little things too. Your wife asks you to help with the dishes, you do it. Your wife asks you to clean the toilet, you do it. In the same way that she does for you. As in any relationship the basis of a good marriage is a mutual self-sacrificing, each spouse desires what is best for the other and they act on that desire even when it means that they give more than is comfortable. This is the essence of Love.
Take away from love the fullness of self surrender, the completeness of personal commitment, and what remains will be a total denial and negation of it. // St. John Paul the Great – Love and Responsibility
The obedience given to a parent by a child, and the mutual obedience given by husband and wife help us to see how we should be obedient to God. Like children it’s easy for us to think that we have it all under control, or that we know better than God does. But because God is all-good and all-knowing it follows that he not only wants the best for us, but that he also knows what’s best for us. Sometimes the things that he asks of us are difficult, but he always gives us what we need to say “yes”.
Mary And Blind Obedience:
From what the Bible and oral tradition tells us we know that Mary lived a life for God. Whatever he asked of her she was ready to say yes. She obeyed the Jewish laws, even though there were so many that I imagine the average person might want to skip some here or there (we see an example of this after Jesus is born and she goes to the temple for ritual purification). There is also a tradition that Mary was consecrated to God at a young age. By being faithful to the covenant that God made with the Jewish people, Mary was in a habit of following the path that God had put her on. Mary knew what God wanted of her in her everyday life, and her many small yeses prepared her for her big yes, her Fiat.
When the angel Gabriel came to her and asked her to be the Mother of God, she didn’t know God’s plan or end game, she didn’t even know how what the angel was saying would come to be. But that didn’t matter, she had made a habit of listening and discerning God’s will in her life, and had made a habit of saying “yes”. Her yes to the incarnation was no different, a continuation of her life lived for God.
This “yes” takes her down a pretty crazy path. From having to travel to Bethlehem many miles away, hugely pregnant, on the back of a donkey (I never truly appreciated hugeness of this detail until I myself was massively pregnant and couldn’t stand to do anything except eat ice cream.), to the flight into Egypt, to her own son’s passion and death, and then continuing to carry on after his Ascension, she follows God no matter what. No matter how difficult it gets and no matter how many twists and turns come into her life, she is always listening, and always answering yes.
Mary is the perfect example of what we are striving for! We can look at her and see what it looks like to live through discomfort and suffering while still trusting and still obeying the will of God.
Blind Obedience in Your Own Life
Now to turn the microscope on ourselves. Obedience seems swell when we think about a clear path with signs that tell us what’s around the corner. But in reality it’s often impossible for us to tell when the next big hill is coming. When it seems like we are finally coasting a wrench gets thrown in that completely changes our direction. But God is still there with us, and is still asking for our “yes” even when we can’t see around the bend.
In obeying God’s will for us we are saying that we trust his plan and his guidance even though we may not know where he is leading us.
To help us grow in obedience in our own lives I have thought of a few practical ways that we can be more obedient each day.
Family and Friends: Be generous with your yeses. If they’re asking you to do something that you can reasonably do than say yes. And be cheerful about it! No one likes someone who says yes to helping out, only to complain the whole time. And besides you’d be missing the point, the object is to grow in virtue, not your ability to complain. 🙂
God: Sometimes it can be hard to know what God is asking us to do. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it can seem like there is a neon sign saying “Do this!” but more often than not God talks to us in the stillness. Now it is super easy to know in your head that God’s plan for your life is the one that you should be following, since he is all knowing he obviously would know what is the best for you. But discerning and deciphering what God wants from you can sometimes be tricky. It’s important to, like Mary, say yes to the little things that God asks of us like going to Sunday Mass and praying each day so that when he asks something big of you, you are ready and waiting to get up and go.
A continual conversation with God allows you to more easily hear what he’s saying. Making time each day for a few moments of quiet prayer, going to adoration, frequenting mass, confession, and spiritual direction are all huge helps in discerning not only what God is asking of you, but will also strengthen you with the grace to say yes.
And here is the giveaway!
One lucky reader will win a 8×10″ watercolor and calligraphy of the Magnificat, as well as a 5×7″ calligraphy of “Fiat” in blue ink with gold details!
Tara L. is the winner of these lovely pieces of calligraphy by Marissa at Stella Maris Prints! Thank you so much to everyone who entered, and for joining us for this series on the Virtues of Mary!
Marissa Federline is happily married to her husband of one year, whom she met at their alma mater, Christendom College. By day, she teaches first grade at a Catholic Classical school, by night, she creates art for her Esty shop, Stella Maris Prints! In her spare time, she loves cozying up with a good book and a steaming mug of tea.
Please support this amazing Catholic shop and continue to join us in this Marian Virtue Series.