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The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
(some time in the first century)
Maybe you could start a new organization called “over-achievers anonymous”; you could be the founder, president, and CEO. Your intense preoccupation with “success” (and with making sure that everyone knows you have succeeded) would easily qualify you for it. A lot of your unhealthy anxiety (“stress” I think you call it) stems from that. Don’t get me wrong, we all want to do something worthwhile with our lives; that is a positive impetus. But there are different ways to measure “worthwhile,” and I fear you are beginning to use a false yardstick.
Reflect a little bit on the Blessed Virgin Mary. Here was the most perfect creature who ever lived (Jesus, remember, was not a “creature”). In mind, body, and soul she was undisturbed by original sin and the selfish tendencies, weaknesses, and ignorance it leaves us with. She lived in uninterrupted union with God and unparalleled intimacy with Jesus Christ. In every way, she reached the pinnacle of true human greatness. And yet, she enjoyed none of the privileges of wealth, fame, or power that this world offers. She remained a working-class woman, mother, and wife (and then widow) throughout her life. Only at the very end, when she completed her mission (we don’t know if she actually died, or if God simply took her up to heaven – there are traditions alleging both possibilities), did we get a glimpse of this greatness: she was taken into heaven in body and soul, and reigns there now as Queen Mother, beside her Son, the eternal King. Since then miracles, apparitions, and devotions have contributed to the Church’s recognition of her unique role in the history of salvation. But while she was on earth, she was satisfied to seek recognition only from God, striving always to please him through the heartfelt fulfillment of his will. Her humility, energetic obedience, sincere prayer, and trust didn’t fill her cabinet with trophies and awards, but it won her top honors in heaven.
Likewise, my promising young niece, you should strive first to please God and advance his Kingdom; let him take care of all the rest.