Day Three – December 1st, 2023 – Immaculate Conception Novena

Mary’s Meekness

The Third Beatitude: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Mt 5:5)

Isn’t Mary’s meekness a given? Is there really need to talk about it, much less contemplate it? Mary may not have struggled with being meek, but we do. The main purpose of these meditations is not to convince us of her blessedness, but to convince us of our need to follow her example of beatitude. This third Beatitude was lived by Mary in an exemplary way on Calvary.

Why was her meekness exemplary on Calvary? Because it was arguably the one moment when her righteous anger would have been most justified.

There her Son hung on the Cross. Eternal Innocence sentenced to death. And there she silently stood.

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. (Jn 19:25)

She stood, John’s Gospel tells us, but we are not told that she spoke. As in other places in the Gospels, here as well Mary pondered the mystery of her Son’s death in the silence of her heart. It was a piercing pondering. Much different than the pondering of her heart at Bethlehem. This silent pondering reveals her meekness.

St. Thomas Aquinas teaches us that meekness is the virtue of the self-possessed.[1] It is the virtue that tames the passion of anger, so that the person acts not on rage or vengeance, but according to reason. Mary had every reason to speak out in righteous anger at the Cross. But she chose meekness instead for two reasons.

First, in imitation of her Son and His first word from the Cross (cf Lk 23:34). Fulton Sheen writes in The Cross and the Beatitudes,

If ever innocence had a right to protest against injustice, it was in the case of Our Lord. And yet he extends pardon. Their insults to his Person, he ignores. Had he not preached meekness? Now must he not practice it? And what greater meekness could there be than to excuse them because they knew not what they did.

Second, in steadfast obedience of faith to the Father’s will. Her meekness was more than just a choice to act on right reason. It was a reassertion of a radical choice she made roughly 33 years earlier in Nazareth when she said,

Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word. (Lk 1:38)

Fr. Cornelio Fabro writes that at the Annunciation, it wasn’t only Mary listening to God’s Word, but God was also listening to Mary.

At the moment of the Annunciation to Mary, God Himself was listening. It is true that St. Bernard is impatient and writes: hurry, quickly respond Mary! But Mary waited to respond as she should: with the freedom that befits the good, to throw herself into the arms of the Infinite, so that her freedom might gush forth into the eternal spring.[2]

Although He seems far more distant now on Calvary than He did at Nazareth, once again the Father is listening for Mary’s response of freedom. Once again, she responds, fiat. But this time it is a silent fiat. It is a silent fiat of the same radical choice of love. Here at the cross as she stands before her Son’s enemies—and we can also say our sins—she chooses to love through meekness. She shows her radical love for the Father and His Holy Will. But also, her radical love for her neighbor, for us, who through our sins have also nailed her Son to the Cross.

It’s time now for you to contemplate Mary at the foot of the Cross. Learn from her, for with Christ she too is meek and humble of heart.

Seize the day and make it all Hers!


Fr. Christopher Etheridge, IVE


[1] Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 157

[2] Cornelio Fabro, “La Libertà in Hegel e S. Tommaso,” Sacra Doctrina, Libertà: Valori e limiti, 66 (1972): 181-182.