Mary’s devotion to God and willingness to say “yes” to him is something Catholics learn very early in faith formation. And Mary’s deep faith and dedication to doing God’s will can be an inspiration for anyone searching to fulfill the will of God, no matter their vocation. The US bishops explain in the pastoral letter, Behold Your Mother: Woman of Faith, just how Catholics can use Mary as a guide, especially youth, consecrated religious, single women devoted to God, spouses, and parents. The bishops wrote, “No one ever followed Jesus so well as Mary his Mother. No one can help us more, by her example and by her intercession” (Behold Your Mother: Woman of Faith, no. 130).
Mary and Youth
“Young people, adolescents in particular, will find in Mary the totally unselfish person, the brave young woman who could face and accept the hidden future bound up with being Virgin Mother of the Messiah” (no. 143). While we don’t know for sure, Mary was likely no more than 14 when her future husband was chosen by her parents—an older man named Joseph. For youth discerning their future, Mary serves as an inspiring example of responding to what God asked of her with great love.
In addition, many young people have dreams of making a positive impact on today’s society where too many still suffer from the effects of poverty, turmoil, and fear. Is there a better example than Mary, who became an instrument of God, to bring light to all the world? As the bishops noted, “Only those men and women will make an impact on society and change the world for the better, who make themselves powerful, effective instruments of God by lives of faith, hope, and love, giving themselves completely to God in order that in and through them he may accomplish his great designs” (no. 144).
Mary and Religious Life
“Again, it is the loving faith of Mary that makes her a perfect model for the religious. She is greatest among the ‘lowly and poor of the Lord,’ whose trust in him brings the abundant harvest” (no. 126). For those who have been called to serve the Lord and bear witness to the Kingdom of God, Mary is a guide. The dedicated men and women in consecrated religious life renounce and leave behind personal possessions and the prospect of married life and allow their talents to be given in service of the Lord. “