St. Mary Magdalen de'Pazzi: Putting the Lord's Will First

· Religious Saint,Carmelite,Italian Saint
Saint Mary Magdalen de'Pazzi: Putting the Lord's Will First from Letters from the Saints Blog with an image of Saint Mary Magdalen de'Pazzi

One of the best ways to prepare ourselves to receive the Word of God is to grow in humility by always placing the will of God ahead of our own wills.

We have the example of Our Lord, who prayed to the Father, "Not as I will, but as Thou wilt." (Mt 26:39) And, the saints show us how we should make that prayer our own.

One saint made almost a game out of this by wanting to be sure that each day she did not do her will but the will of God. In fact, St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi (1566 - 1607) considered that a day had been wasted if she had not had her will overridden by the will of God.

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Early Signs of Holiness

Mary was baptized with the name Catherine by her parents who were descendants of two noble families of Florence. Her parents raised her in the Catholic faith, and Catherine showed early signs of deep piety.

In particular, she was devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. Even before she received her first Holy Communion at the age of ten, she enjoyed hearing people talk about the Eucharist or simply being around people who had recently received Our Lord in the sacrament. 

Soon after her first Holy Communion, Catherine made a vow of virginity to the Lord. Her parents were not aware of her vow.

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Not Marriage, but the Religious Life

At the age of fourteen, Catherine was sent by her parents to a convent school to continue her education. Catherine's faith life continued to grow and because of the way that she conducted herself, the sisters predicted that she would become a great saint.

However, her parents were not interested in her becoming a religious and were making plans for Catherine to be married. Eventually, Catherine informed her parents of her vow. Because of their own faith in God, they were able to cancel their plans and accept that the will of God was for their daughter to become a religious.

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Entering the Carmel

At the age of sixteen, Catherine entered the Carmelite monastery of Santa Maria degl' Angeli. She was drawn to this monastery because of its strict adherence to the Carmelite rule and because she would be able to receive Jesus daily in Holy Communion. When she was clothed a year later, she took the name Mary Magdalene.

Mary developed a deep prayer life that the Lord blessed with ecstasies, dryness, and trials. As a religious, she was considered to be filled with practical wisdom, common sense, and devotion to the Carmelite spirituality. Mary's fellow religious entrusted her with several important roles including novice mistress and subprioress.

She was open to the suffering that the Lord allowed which began in her first year as a religious. During her novitiate, she became ill with an unknown disease that did not subside until she had made her first vows.

Later, for a period, Mary would live on bread and water alone on every day except Sundays. She took on this penance for the reparation of sins. She said, "Those who remember Christ's sufferings and offer up their own to God through His passion find their pains sweet and pleasant."

Cultivating the Good Soil

Her prayer life was what she used to cultivate her soil to receive the Word of God. By preparing her heart through being open to God's will and longing to do it rather than her own will, she made her self available to serve God through serving her sisters and others through her suffering and prayer.

No matter how small the matter, Mary wanted to try to always do God's will. If she thought that God was calling her to do something, she wanted to fully engage herself in it until she had done His will. If in the middle of doing something, she believed that it was opposed to God's will, she would immediately stop no matter what. Her goal was to be fully abandoned to what God was asking her to do. Through that total submission to God's will she made her heart able to be like the good soil that could receive God's Word and provide a place where abundant crops could grow. (Mt 13:1-23)

After accepting the position of subprioress, she became ill with a serious illness that left her bedridden for three years. She suffered from the illness and the isolation until her death on May 20, 1607 at the age of forty-one.

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