“The Lord has placed in Mary the fullness of all good. So that if there is anything of hope in us, if anything of grace, if anything of salvation, we may rest assured it has overflowed into us from her. With every fiber of our being, every feeling of our hearts, with all affections of our minds, and with all the ardor of our souls let us honor Mary because this is the will of God, who would have us obtain everything through her hands.”
–Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermon 6: For the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mary allows her life to be wildly interrupted by God’s desire. Her wholehearted “yes” gives God a home, a body in which to dwell. Mary gives God her flesh. Because of her, he has hands that will heal and bless and be nailed to the wood of the cross. Because of her, he has a heart to love with.

If as Pope Francis reminds us over and over again, we must go to the fringes to be with the poor and forgotten, it is because that is where God is. That is where God goes to find Mary, among the poorest and most powerless. And each of us must go down there to the fringes, to the frontiers of our own poverty and emptiness. For our poverty and emptiness make God happy, not because he wants us sad but because they allow God to fill us with himself, which is all he really wants to do. Down in the dark recesses of our hearts, we can discover, like Mary, a great empty space where God’s mercy can grow and swell in us, a space that he can fill with his own gracious presence.

God in Christ desires to surrender himself to us. It is the secret we were born for. And our unending work is to let ourselves be defenseless, utterly defenseless, like Mary, utterly nonresistant to God’s desire for us.

And so in the monastery we go often to Mary. She is Gate of Heaven, our Way to Christ her Son. All the houses of our Order are dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. And the name of our monastery is actually Our Lady of Saint Joseph Abbey.

In a spirit of compunction and intense desire, monks devote themselves frequently to prayer. While dwelling on earth, their minds are occupied with heavenly things, desiring eternal life with all spiritual longing. May the Blessed Virgin Mary who was taken up into heaven, the life and sweetness and hope of all earthly pilgrims, never be far from their hearts.
–Constitutions of the Order