I've always been challenged by Saint Benedict's description of the three ways of loving God. At first, Saint Benedict tells us, we love God because we love ourselves. I don't want to go to hell, so I do what he wants.
At the second stage, I love God because he is lovable. I have no choice. I have so deeply fallen in love within him that I want only to do his will.
And then there's the third stage of loving God, the one which few reach but the only state in which true holiness and purity reside, wherein I love me only because God loves me. Only then does my every waking moment seek the will of God. My next breath has value only if it is part of God's plan. My fondest hopes and my deepest desires are but cinder and ash unless they are his will. In other words, it is not my will but his, not me, but Christ Jesus in me, it is fiat, let it be done to me according to your word.
And so today we celebrate she who knew such a love from the moment of her conception: Mary Immaculate, conceived without sin....
Two hundred and twenty years ago, sixteen years before the founding of the See of Boston, the first Catholic Bishop of America in his first Pastoral Letter announced the Blessed Virgim Mary Immaculate as the first patron of America and recommended “...a fervent and well-regulated devotion to the Holy Mother of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; that you will place great confidence in her in all your necessities.” Bishop Carroll went on to rcommend “a zealous imitation of her virtues and a reliance on her motherly superintendence.”
And so, as sons and daughters of America, we are sons and daughters of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, and we are bound to an imitation of her virtues.
To seek littleness, and faithfulness and love.