While Jesus was speaking,
a woman from the crowd called out and said to him,
“Blessed is the womb that carried you
and the breasts at which you nursed.”
“Rather, blessed are those
who hear the word of God and observe it.”
Luke 11:27-28 (Gospel for the Vigil of the Solemnity of the Assumption)
On the Solemnity of the Assumption, it is relevant to perhaps begin this short reflection on the Docilitas of Mary. Docilitas is one of the four Latin words found in the Ozark Catholic Academy Coat of Arms. James Schall, S.J., retired Professor of Political Philosophy, defines docilitas as “ one’s openness, on one’s delight, in being taught.” All the information at our finger tips today, is not necessarily an example of docilitas as information for information sake isn’t what docilitas is about. Rather it’s about us “…being…capable of receiving from outside of ourselves what we are” (Schall,184). It is about receiving that which we do not know.
A couple of weeks ago, while attending the Ozark Catholic Conference, I listened to a few talks given by Sherry Weddell in which she discussed Fruitful Discipleship, the title of her newest book. One point that she made was that though people may be filling the pews on a weekly basis, but only 5% can readily be identified living for discipleship, having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and sharing it with others. Most people fill the pews because of “trust.” Like other virtues, we may not always walk a “discipleship” path, but when we do, we will be open to learning.
Discipleship can be seen in different ways. Mary's life is the example of her discipleship but also immediately in living docilitas. She said yes, to be being the Mother of God. Did she know what was to come, or know the full breath of what her “yes” meant? No. The disposition that allowed the Blessed Virgin Mary to say yes, allowed her to live her life in the same way, listening to and obeying God's Word. From the Annunciation to her Assumption Mary lived docilitas.
The gospel reading for the Vigil Mass ends with Christ saying, “Rather blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” One might first think of just observing the law, the teachings, the rules, but perhaps Christ is after much more. Are we open to bringing Christ to others as we live in Him, at home or our workplace, with our family, our friends or co-workders?
At the end of our days, hopefully, at the side of Christ, "inspired by the liturgy of the Vigil Mass for this feast, we acclaim our Lady with these words: 'Glorious things are said of thee, O Mary, who today art exalted above the choirs of angels: Blessed are you, O Mary, for along with Christ, you have attained eternal victory’" (Loarte, 64).
Schall, James V. Docilitas: on Teaching and Being Taught. South Bend, IN, St. Augustines Press, 2016.
www.opusdei.org. “Life of Mary (XIX): Dormition and Assumption.” Opus Dei - Finding God in Daily Life, 17 Mar. 2014, www.opusdei.org/en-us/article/life-of-mary-xix-dormition-and-assumption/.