Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, CFR
Mary is the secret magnet. Wherever she is, she draws Eternal Wisdom so powerfully that He cannot resist. Of all the means to possess Jesus Christ, Mary is the surest, the easiest, the shortest way, and the holiest.
~St. Louis Marie de Montfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary
This beautiful title of Mary as “Seat of Wisdom” has been depicted in art for centuries and particularly in artwork related to educational settings. In the image she always pictured as seated on a throne and holding the Child Jesus—Wisdom Himself—in her lap facing outward as if to show Him to the world. The implied message in the image is that she is both contemplating Him and giving Him to others. Our Lady is literally the repository of God’s Eternal Wisdom for the world.
Now, living in an “information age” we must be very careful not to fall into the trap of thinking that knowledge as such, or information, is actually wisdom. Knowledge is important for conducting our human affairs—it even helps us to know about God—but it does not give us a relationship with God or teach us to do His Will. That is the function of wisdom which cannot be gained by book study. It involves the heart more than the mind and must be gotten by contemplation, that is, through reflection and prayer on God’s actions in the world. It is the fruit of an interior attitude of silence and reflection and therefore cannot be obtained by any quick-fix program. It is said twice of Mary in the Gospel of Luke that Mary “kept” or “reflected on these things in her heart.” (Lk 2:19.51) This attitude of Mary’s heart was noted in Scripture just before the Holy Family settled in Nazareth where she had ample time to interact with and reflect on God and His works.
The single event of the Wedding at Cana shows the effects of Mary’s thirty years in the Presence of Wisdom Himself. In the dialogue between Mary and Jesus we see that she had a deeply intuitive grasp of the divine plan of which even He, in His human nature, may have been unaware. When she informed Jesus that the wine had run out she was indicating that something momentous was to take place, but she did not demand or beg Him to work a miracle because true wisdom is humble and does not demand anything of God. Rather, at that critical moment she simply offered Him to the needs of others, renouncing her own attachment to Him from that moment on, and human history has never been the same. “Do whatever He tells you,” is the greatest wisdom statement ever uttered to mankind and also the very last words we hear from Mary in the Bible. How fitting.
All those who exhibit true wisdom in their lives acquire it through the same Marian pattern of reflection on the mystery of Jesus. Formal education is for the privileged, but wisdom is for all, even the most illiterate. One of my favorite saints, St. Bernadette of Lourdes, was a poor uneducated girl who did not know how to read or write. Believe it or not, she did not even know her correct age because she couldn’t even count, yet, she consistently confounded the wisdom of the world with her candor. When she was cross-examined after the apparitions in 1858 she told a skeptical public official that the Lady had asked her to pray for sinners. The man scoffed and said, “And what exactly is a ‘sinner’?” Bernadette replied directly, “Sinners are those who love sin!” Touché! as they say in French.
Yet wisdom is more than retorts in tight situations. The wisdom of the simple often pierces heaven with tremendous insight. When Bernadette was about to die, the chaplain asked her to offer her life as a sacrifice, but she responded that it was no sacrifice to leave this world where it was so difficult to belong to God. True wisdom is not of this world but helps us get through it to heaven. Imagine the millions of souls that have received the wisdom that Bernadette has offered in Lourdes for more than 150 years for the healing and strength of all.
Mother Mary’s wisdom was profound intelligence, but it was not book knowledge. It was a way of looking at reality that came from her perpetual contemplation of the mysteries of God that were present before her eyes in the Person of her Son Jesus. She has given us that Eternal Wisdom for the benefit of our souls. If the stories of the saints indicate anything, it is that we don’t have to “gain” wisdom by long hours of study. We gain it by sitting at the feet of Him who came from Mary to save the world.
Mother of Christ and “Seat of Wisdom,” graciously bestow divine Wisdom upon us so that we may constantly see our world with the eyes of faith. Let us be generous stewards of wisdom to others and so help to draw many souls out of this world into the life of heaven. We ask this in the most holy Name of Jesus. Amen.
[Excerpted from: Fr. Benedict Groeschel, Jesus and Mary: In Praise of their Glorious Names, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc.: Huntington, Indiana, 2012.]