…by Father David

Christians do not believe in reincarnation. At least, we aren’t meant to. I do not have to imagine that when I expire my “inner essence” (my soul?) will transfer, depending on whether I have lived well or badly, to a millipede, a frog, the Maharajah of Bangalore or even another Catholic priest. We only have one life to make the most of.

The Old Testament is quite stark about our destiny: “where the tree falls, there it lies” [Ecclesiastes 11: 3]. Christian belief is rather more encouraging: we are capable of improvement. St Augustine based on his early life experiences called humans an “infected mass” but we need not be so discouraging. If we cooperate with God he can do great things with us. “He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power at work within us” [Ephesians 3:20]. But the initiative is God’s.

Today we honour the one who more than all the saints was open to the workings of God, who intended her for a unique role: Mary. She is “full of grace” – indeed the word used really means “full to overflowing”. This was not something Mary used automatically. If she had boasted of the grace, the grace would have evaporated.
In looking at Mary we may praise her uniqueness but we must also acknowledge her humanity. She isn’t a magic woman, and she isn’t God. True, she is the “Mystical Rose” and the “House of Gold” [Litany of Loreto], but she is also the Women of Nazareth. Even though she flies so high, she is one of us, the “highest honour of our race”. And so we praise her, and pray through her.