We pray the Magnificat every morning at Lauds:
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For you have looked with favor on your lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blest: you the Almighty have done great things for me and holy is your name.
You have mercy on those who fear you, from generation to generation. You have shown strength with your arm and scattered the proud in their schemes,
Casting down the mighty from their thrones and lifing up the lowly. You have filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty.
You have come to the aid of your servant Israel, to remember the promise of mercy, the promise made to our ancestors, to Abraham, Sarah and their children forever.
Yesterday was the Feast of the Assumption and a great day to celebrate Mary. Today, as a Saturday at St. Mary’s, we are honoring Mary. It struck me throughout Eucharist and in evening prayer that Mary is the model for discernment.
Mary is the most prayerful person I can imagine. The Bible verse where “she pondered these things in her heart” could be a motto for discernment. Isn’t that what it is all about? We must hold close our experiences in prayer, and ponder them in our hearts. This is how we will know the message in the experience.
Mary has long been an example of obedience to God’s Will. From the moment she discovered she was to carry the Son of God, Jesus, she opened her whole life to doing whatever was needed. Her beautiful Magnifcat (which we use daily in our common prayer) is, as far as I am concerned, the most beautiful of all prayers. It is simply a woman giving herself over to God and praising God.
In discernment we must listen, ponder our experiences, pray, praise God and then, in the heart, we will know God’s will. It is a challenge to open our heart in this way – for the ultimate message is unknown.
Whether we are seeking answers about our life direction, or finding strength to meet life’s challenges – a discerning heart is essential. A pondering heart is essential. A prayerful heart is essential. Finally, a trusting heart is essential. Mary teaches the way to discern and know God in our life choices.
Those of you on this journey of discerning where God is leading you to live, take heart in Mary’s Way. Perhaps it would be valuable to pray with the Magnificat or with Mary in one of the Gospels. I find it very helpful to sit with Mary in my prayer and let her presence fill me. Let her be your powerful model in your discernment.