How shall this be, for I know not man?

When Our Lady hears the angel’s words, telling her she is to have a son, this is her only question. How can it be for I know not man? Those words ring out with all the clarity of a pure, vibrant voice, amidst the din of yesterday’s and today’s sensual cacophony. They inaugurate a new era for humanity. They set the tone for a true paradigm shift. They are words which open the doors of monasteries and transform from the inside the creatures made in the image and likeness of God.

Indeed, those words tell us two things. First of all, that Mary has no intention of being intimate with any man whatsoever, reserving her heart and her body for God alone. Secondly, and more importantly they tell us that such was God’s plan, to enter the world through a virgin, to be a virgin Himself, and to invite legions of souls, men and women, to forego the natural attractions of the senses, the natural and good gratification of the desire to procreate and leave behind part of oneself in the children brought into the world.

How shall this be, for I know not man?

Mary’s words tell us that a new way of being mother and father has entered the world. Henceforth, one may choose to become the bride of Christ, to give birth to souls, and to be a sign that eternity has entered time. 

But let’s listen to a saint, Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “To love Christ is undivided love in chastity. Chastity is not just not getting married, not to have a family. Chastity is that undivided love, ‘no one and nothing’. And for that we need the freedom of poverty, and we must all be able to experience the joy of that freedom; having nothing, having no one, we can then love Christ with undivided love. And if we really understand that we belong to Jesus, that He has called us by our name, then obedience is natural. A total surrender: He can do with us what He wants, when He wants, whatever he wants. He can cut us to pieces, yet every single piece is only His. We belong so totally to Him that He can use us without consulting us; and so, to be able to love Christ with undivided love in chastity, we need that total surrender. And now service, our wholehearted service, whatever work has been entrusted to us by obedience, is the fruit of that Chastity, the fruit of that undivided love for Christ. That is why, for a priest who has made that total surrender to God, who is completely free, completely free to love Christ with undivided love in chastity, the work that he does is his love for Christ in action. The Precious Blood is in his hand, the Living Bread he can break and give to all who are hungry for God. Therefore, his chastity, how chaste it must be; his purity, how pure it must be; his virginity, how virgin it must be, to be able to love Christ with undivided love through freedom of poverty in total surrender, in obedience and in wholehearted service”.

A sublime program, one which should not fail to inspire us, but which has its challenges. How can we persevere? Let’s listen to another modern saint, St JoseMaria Escriva: “And what is the secret of perseverance? Love, Fall in love, and you will not leave Him”.

On her glorious feast day, may Mary Immaculate inspire many souls with this desire to belong to Jesus alone, to fall in love, and to love to the end.