Throughout the year, we present an article in the bulletin each week on a variety of topics, written by a member of our Parish staff on a rotating basis.
by Orin Johnson, Director of Music & Liturgy
Mary as Model
The end of the Advent season always brings the faithful to reflect on Mary, and her role in the birth of Christ and our salvation. Mary, in this year’s Gospel passage, is described as someone who, when visited by the angel Gabriel, is troubled and pensive, who has questions about what she is being told, and who, only after consideration, can say “Yes” to the Lord’s calling to her and her life.
Mary is often called “The First Disciple” because of her relationship to Christ, her son. The words “disciple” and “discipline” have the same etymological root, referring to someone who learns, who studies, who follows a certain teacher or set of teachings. It seems that even before Mary knew of her calling to become the mother of God incarnate that she must have already learned her faith well: from her parents, from rabbis and other holy men and women, and perhaps even from the ritual practices of her faith.
Liturgy is meant to be catechetical, if not explicitly, but that is only half the work of forming disciples. To fully be a disciple, one must be in relationship with the teacher, not solely a student. Our liturgies fall short if they, through the prescribed texts, through the music, and through the preaching, only strive to be catechetical and do not give space for the faithful, like Mary, to at times be troubled and pensive, and to even have questions about what the liturgy is expressing of our shared faith. If a person is given no room for such as these, we can’t truly expect them to be or become the fullest expression of what it means to be a disciple.