This is one of the most beautiful parts of Mary’s life, where the heroic measure of Her virtues shines in a most admirable way.
1. Recollection — According to the law, mothers had to stay in their house for forty days before the legal purification. With what pleasure the Most Holy Virgin would have fulfilled this part of the law! She had such a love for recollection and prayer. Above all now, since She has Her Son with Her. What would She seek, or what would be appealing to Her, besides Her house where She has everything in it? Reflect on how something similar should happen to you. Strive to have Jesus in your heart, and once you have Him, what more do you want? What more do you desire? If something else is attractive to you, it is a sign that you do not really have Jesus in you, or that you do not know how to rejoice in His presence.
2. Purity — Recall how Mary was conceived without stain, how She was always purer and cleaner than the sun, that even the smallest imperfection did not stain Her immaculate beauty. Nevertheless, there She is, desiring to be purified! What an example for you! She, who never had any stain, who never had anything to be purified of, wishes to be purified. She loves this purity and cleanliness of heart so intensely, that it seems like She is not yet satisfied and She desires to be purified even more. Ah! Do you love holy purity as She did? Do you try to go to the Sacrament of Confession as well as the other means that the Church offers to sanctify and clean yourself? And if She, who is stainless, is not satisfied with Her purity and wants to be even more pure if it would be possible, do you have the same concern for your purity? What does Mary think when She sees you and looks at your soul? Would She find the cleanliness that She desires? Meditate deeply on this, be ashamed of yourself, and ask Mary for the grace to have that same love for purity, which is such a delicate and precious virtue, so that you may be as careful with it as She was.
3. Obedience — She was not obligated by this law and She was well aware of it. The conception of Jesus and His miraculous birth were the works of the Holy Spirit. She was greeted with, “Blessed are You among all women,” and She Herself had said, “They will call me blessed in every generation,” because of the marvels that the All-Powerful had done in Her... and despite all of this grandness, She doesn’t exempt Herself from the law. She does not want special privileges on account of Her obedience. She is obedient like any other woman, as though there was nothing extraordinary in Her. She submits Herself to the common law and so, after the forty days, She goes with haste to Jerusalem to be with Her Son, a model of obedience.
Look at how this example leaves us perplexed; what a difference there is between the way the Blessed Virgin obeys and how we obey. How many times do we excuse ourselves from having to obey, especially when it humbles us or implies sufferings, like it did for Mary on this occasion? This obedience was really heroic because such a sacrifice required Her to be so very humble, as we will now see.
4. Humility —This is the main part of this mystery, and the part that is the hardest to understand. Mary is altogether extraordinary, and for that, She is also extraordinary in Her humility.
Remember the love that Mary had for Her virginity. When the angel of the Lord came to Her, She was willing to give up being the Mother of God before giving up being a virgin. For Her, it was the most divine aspiration of Her whole life, and nevertheless, now, in Her humility, She sacrifices the appearance of Her virginity. She appears as a contaminated woman that needs to be purified. It seems that, for love of humility, She divests Herself of everything, even the idea and exterior glory of Her virginity. She humbles Herself even to the point of neither appearing as the Mother of God nor as a virgin, but rather as an unclean woman. How admirable and magnificent is this virtue in Mary! Her obedience is humbling for Her, and, nevertheless, She obeys with great joy! She humbles Herself with great pleasure!
Look at Her well, the more humble She is, the more highly exalted She is. Contemplate Mary mixed in as one of all the other women, but look at how God does not confuse Her with anybody. He clearly distinguishes Her as the pure white lily of candor, but at the same time, the little violet that is so magnificent in its humility. What glory the Lord receives with the practice of such a virtue! How much He rejoices in Her!
Meditate deeply on this, compare yourself with Her, put your pride and arrogance, your vanity and conceit, and your self-love at Her feet, and try to imitate Her.
5. Poverty — She cannot bring the offering of a lamb that everyone brought. The most poor were only permitted to offer a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. Poverty is always humiliating, and much more when seen by all. Mary was not embarrassed for being poor or for being known as such, even when they despised Her as people despise the poor. How happy those turtledoves or pigeons would have been if they had known how much they were valued for: to be the offering for the sacrifice of Mary!
Offer yourself to Mary as the oblation of your sacrifice. Tell Her that you want to consecrate yourself to Her, but in order that your sacrifice be worth something, it must be in imitation of Her, to be like Her. Dedicate yourself to imitating these virtues in your heart — especially the ones that are hardest for you and most humiliating for you — those that require the most sacrifice. Make a great effort to practice them.