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Full Of Grace

by Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci

The closest thing to a goddess without being one. The greatest woman who ever lived. The quintessential role model of faith, hope and love. As you may realize, these statements refer to the Blessed Virgin Mary. One can fill pages with the titles attributed to her over the centuries. Yet, her image and her role in the life of Christianity in all of its variant forms have been viewed in some traditions with adulation and reverence, but in others with an almost malign indifference. Today this magnificent woman is still the subject of controversy.

The purpose of this article is not to delve into the many theological titles of Mary; each of which requires extensive consideration. My concern is to share with you what I hope you perceive to be meaningful thoughts about Mary as woman for our time.

There appears to be an increasing interest in Mary within feminist organizations and women in general. While this renewed inquiry into the personhood of Mary is laudatory, one ought to be wary of attempting to mold Mary into the current culture. The reverse ought to be true. Women would do well in seeking the enlightenment of this woman that the scripture calls "full of grace". In my opinion, it has been a tragic disappointment that the entry of so many women in the work force did not introduce into the marketplace the grace, virtue and dignity that I had once believe that all women possessed. It is regrettable that so many women have sought acceptance in this once male world by striving to equal and indeed outdo their male colleagues in abrasive, vulgar and generally offensive behavior. (Just what we needed.) However, I applaud the very many women who saw the great opportunity to infuse the best of feminine virtue into making their professions more humane. At this point, I wish to disabuse our male readers of the opinion that I consider all male workers to be barbaric, brutish creatures. Seeing that I am one of you, I am greatly encouraged by the consistent attitude of so many men in witnessing Christian virtues and principles in their work. Which reminds me that my purpose is to imbue the reader with a vision of Mary as a role model for all humanity.

Theologians are engaged in ongoing conversations concerning the role of Mary in the process of Redemption. Personally, I feel the common believer may draw particular satisfaction from the function of Mary as advocate. It is somehow comforting praying to one as ourselves for assistance in seeking help from God. There is a story of a young boy praying to Jesus for healing of an illness he was enduring. He prayed, "Jesus, if you don't heal me, I'm going to tell your mother." It is said that the boy was immediately relieved of his malady. In like manner, the humanity of Mary becomes a source of understanding when searching for comfort in confronting human problems. The experiences Mary faced in her life proclaim that one can be faithful, trusting in God and full of hope in spite of difficult and even horrific events.

At the foundation of all of the discussion and debate concerning Mary is one basic reality: The world will never be the same because a holy, young woman of Nazareth said "yes" to God. All of the hopes and prayers of generations have been fulfilled. Her name in Hebrew means "the exalted one" and so she is. The Blessed Virgin Mary will always be as Wordsworth wrote: "Our tainted nature's solitary boast."

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