by Catherine Doherty.
Your long letter is still on my desk. I have read it and re-read it many times. It is that kind of letter. It demands all the attention and prayer I can give it.
Yet it is not an unusual letter. There are many, many Catholics who want to go directly to Jesus, and cannot see why they should make this urgent and vital journey, in what seems to them a roundabout way—through a creature, Mary.
At first one may indeed marshal many seemingly logical arguments for that point of view. Yours seem quite good.
Yet they all disintegrate and vanish before one cardinal fact which is manifested to us every holy season of Christmastide, and in the tremendous feast of Epiphany which it includes.
This fact is that God chose to become man through Mary—and thus our redemption began in her womb.
Since God chose to come to us through her, what other way can we go to God? You may want to answer that he also said, I am the way (Jn 14:6). But if you seek Jesus without Mary, truly you seek him in vain.
This is the acceptable time for you to arise and begin your journey inward, dear friend. It is that long, often dark, and usually strange journey any of us in search of God must undertake sooner or later, for we will find him dwelling within ourselves, within all of us who have been baptized in his name and who abide in the state of his grace.
This is a good time to start on this journey, as on the journey of the three holy magi toward the Epiphany. But before you start, go and sell all you possess, and trade it for your share of myrrh, frankincense, and gold. For without these gifts, you cannot reach the king.
Myrrh is a bittersweet herb, hard to grow to maturity. Its other name is humility. You will have to fill your hands full with it. But where will you find it? There is truly one soil, one garden, where it grows in great profusion—Mary.
Therefore, before you start on that journey, you will have to find and cultivate Mary. There won’t be much work to it.
No. All you will have to do is sit at her feet, listen to her silence speak, and gather it up carefully as it falls, drop by drop, into your cupped hands.
First you will hear the sweet silence of a young girl who has just said her immense yes to God and now feels the fruit of his love growing within her.
Then the bitter-tasting silence of the mother of all sorrows, who stands straight, unflinching, and compassionate under the cross of her dying Son and ceaselessly repeats her yes again and again, in passionate love and utter humility, with lips that mirror all the suffering and pain that ever was, is, and will be.
See, your cupped hands now hold enough myrrh to take to the King. Only the boundless humility of the little girl and the sorrowful woman could produce such exquisite scent.
Next is frankincense. For this, you will have to search well within yourself. It is the stuff that church incense is made of and which produces the beautiful gray-blue smoke that rises up, up, up to the very throne of God, in a silent chant of love and perfume.
But where within yourself will you find the poverty, chastity, and obedience of which this frankincense is made?
Alone, it is hard to find. But there is one person, a creature like you, who can show you where these dwell.
She is Mary, the mother of the holy pauper who had nowhere to lay his head except the beam of a cross; Mary, who was chastity itself, a virgin mother.
She is so transparent, so translucent in purity, that when you look at her, you see God; Mary, who obeyed so perfectly, so swiftly, and with such a passionate abandonment of love, all gathered up in one single word—fiat, yes, be it done unto me.
Ask Mary, then, to show you where these virtues lie hidden in you, and your hands will overflow with frankincense, and you will be able to see the King of Glory.
Still, you must find gold. For it, men will go far and dig deep into the bowels of the earth. And so must you dig deep.
Descend, descend into the depths of yourself, your true self. And come up with your selfish self—dead. Then you will have more gold to give the king of love than your weak hands can carry.
To come before his face we must all be emptied of the self that alone can keep him from filling us. But gold, dear friend, is heavy, and to carry it on the long, long journey to the king, you must have help.
Help lies close, very close. Give up that selfish self of yours completely. If you surrender it, and all that you have and are, to Mary in a passionate total consecration of love of her and her Son, then you, their slave, will reign.
And Mary will call on the principalities, powers, dominations, archangels, angels, seraphim, and cherubim to carry your gold for you.
Before you realize it, you will be kneeling before her Son our King, kneeling with hands full of gifts for the Christ Child.
And this, your Epiphany, will last until you die. And when you die, Mary will be there to take your soul and present it to God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit—a soul immaculate and white, as souls who belong to her are.
Listen well. There is no way but through Mary to Jesus. For without Mary there would be no Christmas, no Epiphany and no magi, no kings undertaking long journeys by the guidance of the one bright star.
Without Mary, we would have no Golgotha, no Cross on it—and no Easter! Without Mary, you would not be a Catholic, nor would I. All this came to pass, all this was given to us, because a little girl almost two thousand years ago, said one single, small word. Yes!
Why, then, seek elsewhere a short cut to God, when it lies so close at hand, so easy to reach? This "garden enclosed" of unsurpassed beauty is Mary. Open the gates of it, dear friend, and enter, and you will find him whom your heart seeks so passionately. He is waiting for you within those lovely gates.
—From Bogoroditza, pp. 52-55 (2001), available from MH Publications.
If you enjoy our articles, we ask you to please consider subscribing to the print edition of Restoration; it's only $10 a year, and will help us stay in print. Thanks, and God bless you!