Mary, Model of the Diaconate
Outstanding characteristics of the Blessed Mother that may motivate and inspire deacons
Every one of us has a role model for our life — perhaps a person, a saint or others who provide inspiration. We make our life meaningful and satisfactory by imitating certain aspects of these role models whom we consider great and inspiring. In the history of the Church, too, we see great personalities such as martyrs, saints, blesseds, founders of religious congregations, deacons and many others who have inspired and motivated people in the past and continue to do the same today. We find, in particular, that the role model of Mother Mary, the Mother of God, is inspirational to deacons as they are involved in building the kingdom of God on this earth.
There are some outstanding characteristics of Mary that predominantly motivate and inspire deacons to live their lives in a better way and to do their ministry as Mary did. Facing difficulties during the coronavirus pandemic, deacons can turn to Mary as an intercessor and model of perseverance.
Model of Love and Sacrifice
Mary sacrificed her whole life for the fulfillment of the will of God and his salvific plan. Sacrificing her only son, who died the cross for the salvation of the whole world, displays the greatness and magnanimous attitude of Mary. When we go through the dogmas and the doctrines of the Church concerning Mary’s life and her dedication to God’s plan, we find that the unique virtues of love and sacrifice stand out unparalleled. The virtues of love and service, which Mary practiced in her life, have become the hallmark for deacons, who practice these same virtues in the form of ministry at the altar, in charity, in social work and in other ways.
Model of Our Mission
We know that the missionary endeavor is the hallmark of a missionary. The zeal and enthusiasm she lived in her life stand out as something to be admired, imitated and lived in our life as missionaries of the Good News. She heard the word of God through the angel of the Lord and lived that message in her life without any sin tainting her. Mary was entrusted with the mission of bringing forth the Savior to the world, and so she underwent struggles and pains for the fulfillment of the Word promised to her. Above all, her participation in the sufferings of Christ on Calvary was the most painful event in her life, which she bore for the love of God and all of us. All through her life, she was a missionary in her words and deeds as we find in the Scriptures. Therefore, the Church venerates her as the model of mission and a model to be imitated in the deacon’s missionary activities.
Model for Family Life
The love she had toward God and others originated in her heart. This love of Mary is manifested to all of us in various ways as we experience her love in our day-to-day life. Mary, since the day of the Annunciation until the end of her life on earth, lived a life of commitment. The convictions and virtues she practiced as the wife of Joseph proclaim her fidelity, loyalty and greatness to all deacons today in terms of dedication, commitment to their people and to God in their life.
Model of Faith
Total dependence upon God and complete submission of herself to the will of God are the two pillars that made Mary’s life great in the sight of God and people. She lived as an ordinary woman of her time but righteous in the sight of God. Though she was poor in the sight of people, she was rich in the sight of her Lord. Faithfulness to people and God in her words and deeds exemplifies the greatness of Mary. She accepted the call of God in total faith, even after knowing the consequences of what awaited her in her social life. This faith and trust in the providence of God is an inspiration to all deacons to imbibe these virtues in their life.
Model of All Deacons
In the history of the Church, many people had a deep devotion to Mary, invoked her blessings and graces and lived a life of sanctity. This devotion continues even today. In the same way, the members of the diaconate who have committed their lives for the kingdom of God have a deep devotion to Mary and invoke her blessings in their lives. Mary’s commitment and surrender to God’s plan are the sources of inspiration to all who live in the world and commit themselves to the mission of God in building up the kingdom of God.
Model of All Virtues
The Vatican II document Lumen Gentium rightly points out: “Predestined from eternity by that decree of divine providence which determined the incarnation of the Word to be the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin was on this earth the virgin Mother of the Redeemer, and above all others and in a singular way the generous associate and humble handmaid of the Lord. She conceived, brought forth and nourished Christ. She presented Him to the Father in the temple, and was united with Him by compassion as He died on the Cross. In this singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the work of the Saviour in giving back supernatural life to souls. Wherefore she is our mother in the order of grace.
“This maternity of Mary in the order of grace began with the consent which she gave in faith at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, and lasts until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this salvific duty, but by her constant intercession continued to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and cultics, until they are led into the happiness of their true home. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix” (Nos. 61-62).
As a result, deacons, as the children of God, receive the graces from God in order to imitate all her virtues in their lives and have her as their model of all virtues in their life.
Mary in Our Life
Understanding the ways Mary was a model for us helps us see that the exemplary life of Our Lady guides and inspires deacons and directs them on the path of Jesus our redeemer. Also, as Lumen Gentium states, “The entire body of the faithful pours forth instant supplications to the Mother of God and Mother of men that she, who aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers, may now, exalted as she is above all the angels and saints, intercede before her Son in the fellowship of all the saints” (No. 69).
And let us not forget, the miracles and revelations that are taking place in the name of Mother Mary in various parts of the world can be reminders of God’s love working in and through Mary in deacons’ lives and in their ministries.
FATHER JOHN SINGARAYER, SVD, has written articles for international and national journals. He is also the author of the book “Wellspring of Love.”