Mary’s Detachment

An excerpt from “The Other-Centeredness of Mary”, by Dom John Main, O.S.B.:

At the core of Mary’s detachment, even from what is dearest and most precious, is the continual projection of her consciousness away from herself.  This is indeed the condition of her pilgrimage.  On every occasion where Jesus is shown addressing her in the gospel a further degree of detachment is achieved.  In the Temple, at Cana, when the crowd drew Jesus’ attention to her, Mary is each time confronted with the hard truth of the path of prayer that “the way of possession is the way of dispossession.”  No mother has ever possessed her son less possessively than Mary and for that reason none has been able to be as open to his experience.  The whole of Mary’s life is presented as a silent and loving response to the progressive detachment of her spirit.  She stands before the mystery of her own life as before the mystery of God with ever-increasing simplicity, deepening vulnerability and an ever more refined sensitivity to the transforming power of love. [pg. 20]



9 Responses

  1. She always and in all ways loved God — with all her heart, soul, mind and strength. Within that love grew Love Himself! Because the fact of her love, her fiat, is so set in stone for anyone who hears of her, we do not marvel that when Gabriel said, “Hail, full-of-grace..” Mary didn’t turn around to see whom he was speaking to (as I do when someone says, “Hey, sunshine”)! Rather, we marvel that the Lord would be so merciful as to give His Mother to us even now.

    My mom used to say, albeit rarely, thank God, “It’s a sin to make me that angry, Carol.” As a kid, I thought she was overreacting, but it was and once again now is food for thought, for I have had that same response to some, but above all, I understand better that it is a sin to make God angry, because He loves us even more than a mom could. How often we have said, “..but most of all because I have offended Thee, my God, Who art all good, and deserving of all my love..” and could only wish we knew how true it is. It is a great gift, to find out; and who better to show us, than Mary?

    And why is it that we Catholics especially don’t always and in all ways already know that transforming love is only hard at first? God is ever so very God about it all.

  2. I suppose one of the main reasons why, even as Catholics, many do not realize that, “transforming love is only hard at first”, is because of the clinging to the self, and this is why Mary is the best possible teacher for us in Holy Detachment.

    I think of what your mother said to you, Carol, and I think of the many times others have “made me” angry, but in truth, the problem lies within the one who is experiencing the anger, doesn’t it. There are valid moments of righteous anger, but they are no doubt far fewer in our lives than all the moments of unrighteous anger, arising from our experience of others not meeting our needs, or doing what we expect they should do, etc., etc., and anger is just one of the usually wayward emotions…We really need to imitate Mary, to meditate on her responses to the “mystery of her life”, in order to learn detachment from her, and make progress in our own lives.

  3. I think the revelation I received when Laura went off to college is one of the most profound of my adult life and especially as a mother. He spoke to me ,as He oft does, when I am at rest. He said, “These are not your children. They are mine. You only have custody of them for a short time and then they must come to me on their own.” Now that being said, I still feel failure at times for things I should have said or done, and indeed, I still worry. But if not for the example of His mother, I’m sure there would be despair. Thank you for this Blog and the time you spend developing it. Cathy

  4. What a great role model for those who are already dispossessed or those on the road to dispossession . There is so much we need to dispossess whether it’s the emotions you describe Gabrielle, or our children to whom we would cling, but Mary learned Holy Detachment before we did and she came through, giving us that same hope and trust that she had in God, that all would be well, if we left it to Him.

  5. Cathy and Ann, just hearing you speak of clinging to the children, whether out of a desire for them to not lose the faith or just simply missing them as they grow to be independent – it is one of the most difficult areas of detachment, isn’t it? Teenage son is going away for a month in the summer and I already miss him… meditating on what Mary went through is sometimes overwhelming.

    Jackie, many thanks. I hope you and yours are well.

  6. We have something Mary didn’t: Mary. We have something else Mary didn’t, at least for the whole time her Child was alive: the Sign of the Cross. I have called on Mary, mother-to-Mother, to please intercede for me regarding my kids; and I often mentally make the Sign of the Cross on them, wherever they are, tracing the original priest’s blessing thumbprint.. and I quite literally make the Sign of the Cross on their cars (trains, buses, and airplane baggage if I can’t reach the plane). There have been so many times, too many times that I, worried beyond worried, have acknowledged they are His. Yet He has shared his kids with us, entrusted them to us. And the really oddest part of my life so far ( yes, even more odd than my first ‘marriage’ ) was entrusting my little mother back to Him. That took guts. I hope it was little Mary who held her rapt attention while her body died. She needed a Mother, then.

  7. I have never thought of that before, Carol, that Mary didn’t have the model of Mary to imitate and to strengthen her, nor the sign of the Cross. She was utterly filled with the Holy Spirit for her strength and sustenance, and the Holy Trinity was her all – Father, Mother, Brother, Sister…

    I remember you telling us elsewhere of your always signing your children and their vehicles, etc. It’s a very good practice; hubby always signed the children’s foreheads at night, and still does with our son still at home, but myself, I tend towards short (and/or prolonged) prayers of protection…

    I too hope it was Mary who came to get your mom…”now, and at the hour of our death…”; I take these words with a sure and certain trust now.

  8. Whomever it was, she knew Him/Her. Whomever it was also apparently reassured her that her Carol would be ok, for she very calmly and gently pushed away the oxygen cannula I had wanted to put back on her. It was wordless, but clear: “All is well.”

    Yes, Mary didn’t need Mary, and surely she who bore the Crucified within herself and pondered Isaiah and other prophets and then, Simeon and Anna, already knew the Sign too well. And Jesus also did not miss out on a thing; but still, I want to bring Him some dark chocolate raspberry cream hearts! I know, however, He would rather I just feed His love and ours to others in many ways, in His name.

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