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).
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!
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!
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