1. confidence or trust in a person or thing:
2. belief that is not based on proof:
I have to admit that one of the last words that pops into my head about the Virgin Mary is “Lively”. Every image I’ve ever seen of her is rather subdued. I imagine her quietly sitting of to the side or calmly and serenely going about her day to day tasks. I don’t automatically think of her as drawing much attention, yet the first phrase we are given about her in this exercise is “Lively”.
It takes four definitions of “lively” before the dictionary gets away from a definition that has to do with action. The fifth definition is what grabbed me. It is not Mary’s active faith that I need to reflect on; in fact we know very little about her active role in much – other than her tendency to give advice to her son at weddings. We don’t know how great her cooking was, or how rowdy or well decorate her holidays turned out. We don’t know how planned her meals, crafted or even interacted with those outside her family. But we do know, just from one simple action, how “strong, keen, distinct and vivid” was her faith.
The sum of Mary’s faith was not in her decorating, her participation in Temple activities or her perfect Passover meal. The sum of her faith was God.
I know I don’t live up to Mary’s example even on the best days. I worry too much about my decorations, reading the right books, the right blogs, saying all the right prayers and appearing like the good girl I want to be. I try to make my faith look vivid and lively and enticing. I want people to ask questions about our feast days and copy my recipes. I want those approving looks when my pre-schooler finally behaves in Mass or that pat on the back when I defend my beliefs.
I get caught up in the action of having a lively faith even though I know those are just the trappings and not the real fruit. I know there’s nothing wrong with having a energetic, eventful or bustling faith life; in fact, we have so many homes and parishes that need more of that energy. However, in the end, that is not the “lively faith” we’re called to.
We’re called to have a strong faith, a vivid faith no matter what or how that faith is acted out. We’re called to emulate Mary from her most important moment – her fiat. Her simple act of faith, the most distinct and vivid since Adam and Eve in the Garden, changed the course of human history.
We should be encouraged to live an energetic faith – be that woman who uses her talents to make her home welcoming, her parish engaging or her holiday meal delicious. But we should not forget that at the core we must strive to emulate the strongest aspect of Mary’s faith – her faith in God. Not only that God exists or that his rules are true, but that he will care for us and see us through. We should strive to energetically and actively show that strong, keen and vivid faith that rests in our heart and soul; to be filled with such Grace that it becomes an energy of its own guiding us and leading others back to God.