Mary the Peacemaker
The Seventh Beatitude: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Mt 5:9)
What do skilled writers and seasoned runners share in common? An invincible will to finish what they started. When seasoned runners “hit the wall” and when skilled writer’s hit the “block” (writer’s block) they can only finish what they started by taking one more step forward. The only difference is the nature of that step. Whereas the runner must keep running, the writer cannot keep writing. The skilled writer knows that finding his “second wind” means looking for new source of inspiration.
Now, you may be asking yourself, why is Father talking about writers and runners, walls and winds in a novena reflection about being peacemakers?
Just as the struggle to write and to run successfully depends on a “new wind”, so also the struggle for peace. From the Christian perspective, peace is not primarily about strategies, treaties, or cease-fires. Peace is a gift of the Holy Spirit, God’s Rushing Wind (cf. Act 2:2). He inspires it. He brings it. He establishes it. And today, in this seventh day of our novena, we want to ponder how He does so in the life of our Blessed Mother. Not only among all women, but also among all children of God, she is the most blessed.
The Spirit and His Bride
St. Louis de Montfort writes, “To Mary, His faithful Spouse, God the Holy Spirit has communicated His unspeakable gifts.” Among these gifts is the gift of peace. To be theologically correct, peace is one of the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit. Like the fruits of the earth, they are the “natural consequence”, so to speak, of the Spirit’s active presence in a Christian’s life. Just as the apple tree, in living an apple tree’s life naturally bears apples as its fruit, so also a Christian who truly lives a Christian life under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit supernaturally bears the fruits of
“…charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity.”
But since the Spirit Himself is Christ’s gift to man, what the Spirit works in men can also be called a “gift”. Thus, the Spirit’s fruit of peace is also a gift of peace.
No creature knows the splendor of this gift more than Mary. Why? Because among all of God’s creation, Mary is the most conformed and most docile to the Spirit of God. She especially radiates in the Spirit’s gift of peace at the Annunciation.
I suggest that in our prayer time today we contemplate the great peace that must have overshadowed Mary as she was overshadowed by the Spirit. This is a part of the Annunciation mystery that is seldomly considered. So much is said and written about the conversation between Mary and the Archangel Gabriel, but what gems of grace can be found in contemplating the exchange between Mary and the Holy Spirit! The first is of words, while the second is of silence. The first touches ears, while the second penetrates the heart.
And what peace must have reigned in Mary’s heart! The Spirit dwells anew in her heart and a new Child dwells in her womb. There is peace because there is tranquility of order. It is the dawn of a new order: the order of grace!
The Spirit and the Font
By her example at the Annunciation Mary teaches us that living as peacemakers begins by making peace with God. Obedience to God’s will and docility to the work of His Spirit is the itinerary of peace. When peace is made with God—that is when we welcome His dominion over our lives through grace and virtue—then peace can be won in every other relationship. Here as well the old maxim applies, put first things first.
We see this in Mary’s life throughout salvation history. At peace in God’s grace, Mary seeks to communicate this peace to others. In this way Mary’s universal maternity is patterned on God’s paternity. It is in the order of grace. Full of grace, she wills to share the life of grace, and consequently the life of peace, with all men and women making them children of God.
This is Mary’s task. This is Mary’s preoccupation. This is Mary’s joy. To beget children of God. And this is one of the main reasons why she is a perfect model for the Church. The primordial task, the mission of the Church, is the begetting of men and women into the life of grace. The Lord could not have been more direct about this when he commissioned His Apostles,
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit. (Mt 28:19)
The Church Fathers were among the earliest theologians to recognize this Mary-Church typology. Many of them, like St. Leo the Great saw a resemblance between Mary’s womb and the Baptismal font,
In the sacrament of rebirth we are united to Christ’s spiritual birth, since, for every man who is reborn, the water of baptism is a little what was the Virgin’s womb, in the sense that the same Spirit who filled the Virgin, fills the water of the font; the sin that was abolished there by the holy conception, is abolished here by the mystic washing.
And just as the care of a good mother does not stop at childbirth but carries on in the nourishing and strengthening of her child, so also the Church takes care to nourish and strengthen God’s children in the life of grace through the sacraments (of initiation, healing, and mission). This begs the question, could the general lack of peace around us today have its roots in a lack of grace drawn from the sacramental life? Could the lack of peace among the members of the Body of Christ be rooted in a forgotten purpose and true sense of mission?
On a more spiritual note, in contemplating Mary at Nazareth, radiant in the peace and joy of being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and bearing in her womb the Son of God, we can reflect upon ourselves and ask:
What does Mary’s experience of peace at Nazareth teach me? Does it call me to reorder by life back to God? Does it inspire me to seek a deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit, who is not only the Lord and Giver of Life, but also the Giver of Peace? When do I most often lose my peace and why? What can I learn from Mary’s example in this regard? Is there a relationship in my life that lacks peace? How is God calling me to follow Mary’s example and be a peacemaker in this relationship?
Seize the day and make it all Hers!
Fr. Christopher Etheridge, IVE
 True Devotion, 25
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1832
 Tractatus, 24, 3.