“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13)
I have had to let this day’s reflection sit with me for a while before I could write about it. I guess I have been trying to decide what God’s armor looks like on me.
If I were to “clothe” myself in order to serve God and ward off evil, I would want to be dressed in Mother Mary’s Ten Evangelical Virtues, having the heart of St. Mother Teresa, the bravery of St. Joan of Arc and the penitence of St. Mary Magdalene.
Put together, I believe all would build an armor that would serve any woman of God very well.
It is not an outward fashion I refer to, but an interior one. It is haute couture for the soul.
Mary’s Ten Evangelical Virtues are scattered throughout the Gospels, identified in the early 16th Century by Blessed Gilbert Nicolas OFM and put into the form of a Chaplet by St. Joan of Valois, once a Queen of France and a founder of the Order of the Annunciation.
They form the devotional tradition of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, but have long been seen by mystics and Popes as a simplified way to holiness, because to follow her example is to be a model disciple of Jesus. It is to go “to Jesus through Mary.”
They are also reflective of The Beatitudes as recited by Jesus in The Sermon on the Mount. These virtues are representative of the heart of his teachings.
In their order, the Ten Evangelical Virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary are:
1. Most Pure 2. Most Patient 3. Most Humble 4. Most Faithful 5. Most Devout 6. Most Obedient 7. Most Poor 8. Most Patient 9. Most Merciful and 10. Most Sorrowful.
To have the heart of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta is to love as unconditionally did Jesus himself. To have St. Joan of Arc’s bravery is to believe in the mission God sets before you and literally fight for it. To have the penitence of St. Mary Magdalene is to be truly contrite and repentant for the times you fall short, the times the chinks in your armor are exposed and your wounds are made visible in your weakness.
Putting on the armor of God is not done in a day. It is a lifetime of building a protective shield against life’s evils by devotion to Scripture, prayer and works of mercy.
It is learning to swim against the tide of popular culture and societal expectations. As with swimming in nature, swimming against the tide comes more easily to some Christians than others. Some take to God’s spiritual flow as ducks to water. Others struggle to stay afloat. Some fear the water and won’t dip a toe. Others drown from the evil pooling within their own hearts.
You have to polish your armor daily so it does not rust. Sometimes it is so light to wear you feel you could float away; at other times it weighs so heavily it is hard to take a step forward.
But without it you are naked in the world and open to all its hostilities, vulnerable to real evils and threats that exist.
Putting on God’s armor requires you do battle with your own foibles, with the slings and arrows of others and against the snares and the traps of Satan himself.
Every victory is a grace, and each grace a rose for a crown of mercy – worn in triumph to the honor of Jesus through Mary.
”With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18”