Mary the first Disciple

During the month of May, Saint John Henry Newman inspires us to follow Our Blessed Lady’s example. Preaching at Oxford University, he reveals that Mary continued to reflect upon the meaning of God’s will for her- step by step. She realised that the implications of her initial “yes” would only, gradually, unfold. This involved her free consent being given on a daily basis. Mary becomes, for Newman, the model for every Christian disciple. He clearly has her in mind when advising his friend, Mrs Froude:

I am quite sure you wish to please God, and would do anything He told you. On the other hand, I know well He does not tell us everything at once -but first one thing, and then, when we act upon that, another. No one ought to enter the Church without faith -no one can have faith for it by wishing or willing it, at the moment. Faith is a Gift of God; we gain it by prayer, we cannot gain it at once; but we can gain it at last. I will quarrel with no one simply for not entering into the holiest and happiest of states on the spur of the instant -faith must be preceded by reason-but I will quarrel with him much, if he does not earnestly and continually ask of God the illumination which leads reason to faith.

(Letters and Diaries XV, p.307-8)

Newman recognised, from his own experience of conversion to Christ, that there are no shortcuts to Paschal joy. The Saint taught that the path to eternal life needs to be carefully navigated- with the light of the risen Jesus shining in our conscience. His love encourages us to move forward, bit by bit.

Fr Peter Conley