Inspiration and Aspiration: Our Blessed Mother and the Apostles

inspiration – n. – the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions
aspiration – n. – a strong desire to achieve something high or great

Last month, our adult faith formation groups talked about Our Blessed Mother. The discussions were good, and the Q&A with our priests each night centered primarily around the Immaculate Conception and the fact that Mary remained sinless throughout her life.

I find Mary to be a tremendous inspiration. By saying yes to God plan and saying no to sin, she received her heavenly reward, body and soul, immediately upon leaving this world. And that simple, resolute yes changed the history of the world! Would that all of us could do the same: resolve to do God’s will, whatever the cost, and refuse to yield to temptation, however strong.

Of course, we are not immaculately conceived and full of grace — so while it can be inspiring to meditate on Mary, the crown of creation, it can be difficult (and perhaps moreso for a man) to imagine putting ourselves in her shoes and following in her footsteps.

This month, the adult groups will be talking about Saints Peter and Paul. I recently had the chance to show an Orthodox priest and iconographer the great Eastern-style icons in our sanctuary, and I asked why Paul was portrayed in the dome with the other 11 original apostles. He replied that in the Eastern tradition, Peter and Paul always go together: the weak one who denied Christ and became the Rock, and the proud one who persecuted the church and became the great evangelist to the Gentiles. Both men prove that it doesn’t matter who or where we are, what we do, or how much we stray — when at last we are ready to turn to God, He is right there beside us.

The apostles are great examples of the wondrous creations God can make with broken pieces like you and me. With all their imperfections, St. Peter and St. Paul call us to holiness and to persevere in faith — and because they stumbled along the way, they make the path to heaven seem navigable.

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