Fullest of Grace

How Mary Grew In the Spiritual Life

Oftentimes we think of Our Lady as completely perfect right out of the box, so to speak.

And it’s true.

But that doesn’t mean she didn’t progress in sanctity.

“Wait a minute,” you’re thinking. “Didn’t the Angel Gabriel say she was ‘full of grace’ at the Annunciation?”

Yes, he did.

But St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that she actually grew in grace to the point where she was worthy to be the Mother of God. In other words, while she couldn’t merit the grace for the Incarnation itself, she did merit the title “Theotokos” ​(God-bearer). 

Whoa! How?

Through good works.

Like the rest of us, Mary merited an increase in grace and charity through meritorious action. In other words, every time she performed a good work under the influence of charity, she received an increase in grace.

And can you imagine how many good works Our Lady performed in her life? (Might want to grab a calculator for that one!)

So while she was already in perfect union with God from the first moment of her conception – and possessed amazing amounts of charity and grace – it grew by leaps and bounds.

She was constantly increasing in grace.

Remember, says St. John of the Cross, that she was perfectly in tune with God. She wasn’t attached to anything in this world. She never had any secondary or selfish motives.

Every one of Mary’s movements was made under the impulse of the Holy Spirit. That means that every action gained her more merit. (Maybe Gabriel should have called her “fullest of grace”!)

So while she certainly received special graces and spiritual privilege at various points in her life, she also increased in grace by her daily personal activity.

And it’s the same with us.

We grow in grace by performing good works. We merit an increase in the life of God whenever we act like God.

So while we certainly don’t start out perfect like Our Lady, we can certainly grow in grace just like she did. That’s simply one more reason why Mary is an icon of what you and I are made to be. Ave Maria!

God bless!

Matthew

 

P.S. I’m heading back to Italy!

Join me in March 2019 for an amazing pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi, Orvieto, LaVerna, and much, much more! Check it out here!

 

 

All who have been lost were lost because they did not pray.” St. Alphonsus Liguori.

Don’t be lost!

Grab your FREE copy of my quick guide to deeper prayer 8 Ways To Jumpstart Your Prayer Life! 

It’s an easy, step-by-step summary of the spiritual giants of the Church designed to help you rocket to God!

 

 

076: Psalm Basics for Catholics

featuring Dr. John Bergsma

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It’s the book quoted by God the Father.

It’s the book quoted by Christ on the Cross.

It’s the one book we read at almost every Mass.

It’s the Psalms.

While many view the Psalms as merely a collection of beautiful poetry (which it is), there’s a whole more going on in this amazing book of the Bible. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say it’s one of the most important in all of Sacred Scripture.

Yes, they’re all important, but the Psalms are special.

St. Basil the Great said that the Psalms actually train the soul. He declared they are “the elementary exposition of beginners, the improvement of those advancing, the solid support of the perfect, the voice of the Church” (On the Psalms).

In other words, they’ll help you get to heaven.

So I brought in one of the most popular Art of Catholic guests to illuminate us even more. Dr. John Bergsma is the author of a new book titled Psalm Basics for Catholics. It’s the latest in his line of best-selling “Basics for Catholics” books.

But he’s more than an author.

He’s one of the popular teachers at Franciscan University of Steubenville. (He’s been voted Teacher of the Year…twice!) In this episode we’re going to dive into the book of Psalms.

Among other things, we’ll discuss:

  • Why the Psalms are really five different books
  • How the Psalms are directly connected to the Eucharist
  • Why the Psalm 23 (“the Lord is my shepherd…) is totally Catholic
  • Why St. Athanasius said the Psalms are a synopsis of the entire Bible
  • How the Psalms can form your prayer life
  • A reading plan for the Psalms

All that and more on another bang-up episode of the Art of Catholic podcast.

God bless!

Matthew

 

P.S. I’m heading back to Italy!

Join me in March 2019 for an amazing pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi, Orvieto, LaVerna, and much, much more! Check it out here!

 

All who have been lost were lost because they did not pray.” St. Alphonsus Liguori.

Don’t be lost!

Grab your FREE copy of my quick guide to deeper prayer 8 Ways To Jumpstart Your Prayer Life! 

It’s an easy step-by-step summary of the spiritual giants of the Church designed to help you rocket to God!

 

 

Podcast links mentioned:

06: Bible Basics With John Bergsma

043: (More) New Testament Basics with John Bergsma

Speaking Events:

May 3 – Pine Haven Boys Center Gala Dinner, Nashua, NH

May 11 – St. Andrew Catholic Church

May 12 – St. Paul Center event in Arlington, TX

Mary’s New Name

Every time we pray a “Hail Mary,” we’re repeating the words of the Angel Gabriel.

Kind of…

The Angel Gabriel never says, “Hail, Mary.” Instead, he says, “Hail, full of grace” (Lk 1:28). In other words, he calls her by a new name.

Just like other figures in salvation history whose name change denotes something about their identity (Abram becomes Abraham – “Great Father”, Jacob becomes Israel “One who reigns with God”, Simon becomes Peter “Rock”), when he calls her “full of grace,” the word he uses is a new name.

He calls her “kecharitomene, “which means, “favored one” or “full of grace.”

That’s an extremely rare word, used only in the Annunciation scene and in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (1:6-7). In Luke, the term is used in the perfect tense. This means that the angel is saying he finds Mary in an already graced state.

She is “full of grace.” There is no lacking in her.

In other words, she has been immaculately conceived without sin.

Before becoming Catholic, I used to get all in a huff about this. “How can God do that? It doesn’t make sense.” And yet I didn’t have any problem with the fact that Eve was created sinless.

I just didn’t consider the fact that the grace of Christ’s death and resurrection can be applied to any place in time that God wants.

Even though Mary was born after Original Sin and before the Cross of Christ, God is inside and outside of space and time. That means he can apply grace anywhere he wants. We get it 2,000 years after the Cross and Resurrection of Christ.

Mary got it at the moment of her conception. She is created sinless. She is the New Eve.

And the same grace that is given to Mary is the same grace given to us. In fact, she has become the conduit of that grace into our lives. God gave us the grace of His Son through Mary. In other words, she is the channel God uses to give us grace.

(This is part of the basis for all Marian devotion. We go back to God the same way He came to us…through Mary. We’re just using the channel he set up!)

And as our Mother in the faith, Mary is trying to conceive in us the same love and devotion to Our Lord that she’s had since first moment of her conception.

So on this Solemnity of the Annunciation, ask Our Lady to open you up to all the grace of God that she wants to pour out upon you. As the Mother of God…and yours…she knows exactly what you need.

Ave Maria!

Matthew

All who have been lost were lost because they did not pray.” St. Alphonsus Liguori.

Don’t be lost! Grab your FREE copy of my quick guide to deeper prayer 8 Ways To Jumpstart Your Prayer Life! 

It’s an easy step-by-step summary of the spiritual giants of the Church designed to help you rocket to God!

 

 

 

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