The Annunciation of Our Lord commemorates the anniversary of the Archangel Gabriel appearing to the Blessed Virgin Mary, asking her to bear the Son of God into the world. This happens on the 25th of March every year – exactly 9 months before Christmas/the birth of Jesus.
This year, the Annunciation fell on Good Friday, which pushed the Catholic Church’s celebration of the anniversary to the, “first available day,” which this year means today, Monday, 4 April 2016.
Recently, I was thinking about my relationship with Mary, the mother of God. Years ago, I had a sobbing conversation with a priest, because I felt the need to be perfect. When he challenged my reasoning, I told him, “because Catholic girls are taught to be perfect like Mary,” and I definitely was nowhere near to being perfect. That priest did nothing to help me feel better, and actually made me feel worse, for an entirely different reason. I felt angry that many cradle Catholic women I had spoken with throughout the years felt the same pressure to, “be perfect like Mary,” when it is human nature to err. Nobody could better explain the Church’s teaching on how we should be perfect.
Since then, I have spent a lot of time growing, both emotionally and spiritually. While I was pregnant with my daughter, I began re-thinking the message I internalized as a girl in the Catholic Church. I was desperate, and am desperate, to avoid pressuring my daughter to feel perfect. No doubt society will pressure her enough – she doesn’t need her family, or the safety of her faith, or church, to add stressors.
It dawned on me the message that I wish I had internalized. Instead of the, “be perfect as Mary was perfect,” I would rather my children (regardless of gender) internalize, “say ‘yes’ to God, the way Mary gave her ‘yes.'”
As a teenager, Mary was given a choice. She said, “yes.” Theologically, even if she didn’t emotionally fully grasp the ramifications of her decision, she would have known He was bound to suffer for us, and our sins, and by being His mother, she would suffer alongside Him. She answered God’s call to devote her life to protecting Jesus, standing by Him, supporting Him, and suffering alongside Him.
And, that is the lesson I want my children to learn – to be willing to give God their personal fiat, and be willing to have a relationship with Him, a devotion to Him, and a love for Him, no matter what the cost.