OUR LADY’S SERENITY.
Inspired by the writings of Fr. Ronald Knox. Chapter 24.
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit exalts in God my Saviour”. (Lk 1:46-47)
Fr. Knox concentrates our minds on Our Lady. It is traditional to end sermons and homilies with a reference to Our Lady, asking for her maternal solicitude and heavenly aid. This can be seen in many of the addresses and writings of the Roman pontiffs down through the ages. And I shall follow their tradition.
Fr. Knox presents what he calls a ‘human picture’ of Our Lady, drawn from the Gospels. It is possible to forget, on account of the artistic renderings of Our Lady we see our classical Christmas cards, drawn from Gentile models, that Our Lady was Jewish. We may rightly picture her with a jug of water on her shoulders. She talked, like St Peter, with a ‘bit of a Galilean brogue’.
Fr. Knox does not desire to focus on the stuff of biographies, but on the quality called ‘serenity’. He thinks of serenity as a ‘human quality, reacting to human situations’, to imagine the smile...which ‘lingered on her face and threw into relief the thoughtfulness of her brow’. It is a useful quality to remember in Our Lady, and we all need it. The great calmness of Our Lady is something for us to call to mind. We see it in these ways:
At the Annunciation, though bewildered, she listened. She pondered. She simply said “Yes, but how?”
At the Visitation, Our Lady arose with haste, not hurry, to greet her cousin, Elizabeth. ‘Calm people don’t need to be in a hurry, because they hasten at the right moment, about the right things’.
In the Magnificat , while she starts with herself, she moves away from the subject as soon as possible, to focus on the goodness of God and certain other generalities.
In Bethlehem, we read “And she wrapped him in his swaddling clothes an she laid him in a manger’. The ‘ands’ Knox says. Are there to show that Our Lady simply got on with things as they needed to be done. – no fuss, no running around in circles because the inn was full. ‘”I don’t see any reason to doubt”, says Knox, “that St Luke got his Gospel of the Infancy from Our Lady herself”. Can’t you hear Our Lady describing the scene to him: “It was so convenient really, with all that straw about; and very quiet, you know”.
At Cana. Her advice is calm and measured , not panicky and verbose. “Do whatever he tells you.” It was the motto of Our Lady’s life.
A few resolutions then are in order:
Fr. Knox concludes with a salute to the Mother of God and our Mother too, given us at the foot of the cross.
‘It is not easy advice that she gives, and we must certainly have recourse to her if we are to win the grace to carry it out. Let us leave it in her hands, then, to advise us and to help us carry out her advice, let us go to her with our troubles, our faults, our inadequacies, and put them in her hands, confident that her serene competence will know how to deal with them. She will no fail us; she has a mother’s wisdom, and a mother’s love.
Extract from CTS Pamphlet PA26 ‘A Retreat for Everyday Life’ Inspired by the writings of Fr. Ronald Knox. Written by Fr. Paul Dobson. Printed with permission of The Catholic Truth Society.
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