Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

Mary’s Friendship in Monastic Life



Mary-Theotokos-webThe friendship of Mary is probably most often experienced in monastic life as the presence and action of a unique companion. A friend is one who sticks with you in joy and sorrow, in success and failure. When all others depart, your friend remains. Just so with Mary. She is present at a moment’s notice, ready to act as Mother, Helper, or Teacher in ways both interior and exterior.

But how does the friendship of Mary differ from that of her divine Son, or from that of the Holy Spirit, the interior Counselor, or from the mysterious friendship of one’s guardian angel? Obviously there is a functional unity among these spiritual friendships, which are not mutually exclusive. In particular, the Divine Persons are pleased to act through Mary in such a way that Their acts of friendship- self-revelation in all its forms- become manifestations of her own kindness, love and power which, after all, come from Them. What seems to be the characteristic quality of Mary’s friendship, though, is her subtle combination of the ordinary and extraordinary. All is simple and hidden. Yet Mary’s touch renders the simple extraordinarily beautiful. Hidden things, which the Father chooses to reveal to simple persons, become exceptionally clear without ceasing to be hidden. The friends of Mary are also like that: totally ordinary, sometimes embarrassingly so. Yet, if their friendship with her is genuine, they are possessed by a combination of qualities which is truly remarkable: spiritual insight, social poise, interpersonal humility, ease of collaboration, generosity of service, unassuming selflessness, unconquerable faith, trust, and joy.

Those who have experienced the friendship of Mary in their lives usually point out the two characteristics of the Marian touch which we have already noted in her role as Teacher: sweetness and purification, probably in equal proportions. The precise distribution of these characteristics in the lives of her children is part of divine wisdom. Mary’s action makes sweetness purifying and purification sweet; the result being a type of bittersweet experience that gives its flavor to all of one’s life. It reflects, at one and the same time, the inner destitution of the Cross, the invincible peace of the Resurrection, and the unified harmony between Cross and Resurrection that has been achieved in the heart of Mary. The communication of this inner Paschal harmony is the fruit of Mary’s friendship.

-Augustine Roberts, OCSO, Mary and the Monk


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