Mary and the Monastic Life

The whole monastic life is lived in and with Mary the Virgin Mother who has given us the Word Incarnate.  She is the model and the summary of all monastic spirituality, and the fathers could call her the “rule of monks” – Maria regula monachorum….In such a life, we are completely conformed to the Virgin Mother of God, who by the perfect simplicity of her faith received into her Immaculate Heart the full light of the Word.

…Hence to live “in the spirit” is in effect to live in and by Mary, the Bride of the Holy Spirit.  Life in the Spirit is a life which she herself has obtained for us and given to us as Mediatrix of all grace.  The movements of our life in the Spirit are directed by her motherly heart.  To acknowledge Mary perfectly as our Queen is then to abandon ourselves entirely to the action of the Holy Spirit, who comes to us through her.  If Mary becomes our Queen and our “Rule”, the inspirations of the Holy Spirit will tend more and more to reproduce in our lives the virginal detachment and the pure love of God which led Mary to submit her whole being entirely to the will of God…we will give ourselves as she did.

[Excerpt from: “Merton. A Biography”, by Monica Furlong, pg. 231; original quote found in Thomas Merton’s “Basic Principles of Monastic Spirituality” , 1957]

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]