Mary’s Receptivity & Cooperation with God – Lent 2024


Mary is the perfect model for us in many ways. After we receive Jesus in the Eucharist at Mass, we are called to go forth and bear fruit by cooperating with God’s will like Mary did.

Thank you for watching and participating in this retreat!

Not Registered, yet? Don’t miss the rest of the talks! Register for the Pray More Retreat!


Audio MP3

Click here to download the audio file.

Printable Study Guide PDF

Click here to download the printable study guide.

Printable Transcript PDF

Click here to download the transcript of the video presentation.

Reflective Study Guide Questions

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

Lk. 1:38

1. Katie suggests that Lent can be a great time to examine our attachments. We can try to figure out what things we are attached to that we need to let go of, such as sins or shortcomings. What attachments might you most need to let go of this Lent?

2. After we receive Our Lord in the Eucharist at Mass, we are not dismissed but are rather sent forth. When we go forth after receiving Him, we are imitating Mary’s receptivity. How can you work on bearing fruit after you are sent forth at Mass?

3. Whenever we become very focused on our own plans, interruptions from those plans can begin to feel burdensome. But we must ask whether those interruptions are actually part of God’s plan. How do you tend to view deviations from your plans? How can you work on responding to such interruptions in a deeper cooperation with God’s plan?

4.  We can often discover what God’s will for us is by looking at what our vocation requires us to do. What duties of your vocation can you give more focus to, in order to carry them out with deeper love and holiness?

Text: Mary’s Receptivity & Cooperation with God

Hey, I’m Katie Sciba. Welcome back to the Pray More Lent retreat. I’m glad you’re continuing to pray during this time and receive the grace of the desert.

A Devotion to Our Lady Star of the Sea

I have a devotion to Our Lady Star of the Sea. I first encountered that title of hers, which is one of the most ancient titles that she has. A few years ago when I was living in Louisiana, I had never heard that title before. I grew up in Nebraska, which is landlocked. And so any mention of the ocean just would be quite rare.

So when I first heard that title of Mary, I thought, oh my goodness, how beautiful. And it makes so much sense because she is the star that guides us to Christ. I love the line from St. Therese that says, the world is thy ship, not thy home. That lovely reality means that we are meant for somewhere else. We are meant for that union with God. And Mary is the one who constantly draws us close to Jesus by her example, by her motherhood toward us. And so I love looking to her example because she was the first Christian. She’s extraordinary. Her immaculate conception, her faithfulness to the Lord’s will and her litany of extraordinary titles indicates that she is set apart. Her love and her focus and devotion are incredibly inspiring to us. And then we receive gifts. We receive graces from her love and focus and devotion to Jesus.

Our Similarities With Our Lady

And so it could be very easy for us to look at Mary and see no similarities at all. She’s extraordinary. She’s amazing. She’s set apart. But how miraculous and encouraging are her similarities to us, those she is so exceptional. She’s not so unlike us that she can’t relate to us, that she can’t connect with us or love us. She’s a person. She’s a person. And as the immaculate conception, her will is constantly aligned with the Lord’s. She truly wants whatever God wants and works for that good. So her pattern of receiving the Lord, of cooperating with Him and His will and then living in faith is a path for every single soul to walk in order to be close with Christ.

So her receptivity is something so remarkable. She loves the Lord with full Christian maturity, or the Bible would put it as full Christian perfection. Her will aligns with the fathers and always has. She has a purity of heart that enables her to receive not just God’s will, but God Himself.

That grace is available to us as well. This ability is accessible to us. We weren’t conceived without sin and we sin daily. We are tempted daily and she was tempted. But we can be renewed and made pure during Lent, it is so good, so fruitful and quite culturally common within the Catholic church for us to go to confession, go to confession during Lent. I pray that we’re all made more aware of our attachments, those things that do not coincide with the Lord’s will that work against the pursuit of this relationship with the Lord.

The Importance of Confession

We can become aware of these things and then let them go. So often those are sins. Sins are always contrary to God’s will. And we might, especially if we have habitual sins that we bring to the confessional over and over again, we might feel a sense of defeated. You know, oh, I keep doing this over and over again. I can’t make myself stop. I want to be rid of this particular thorn in my side. And so we go, we go to confession where we encounter the mercy of Christ. We encounter Christ Himself through the priest who is acting in persona Christi. In confession, we’re made clean. Our souls are restored to a state of grace.

It is so thrilling making a good confession. There have been times when I’ve emerged from the confessional and I truly feel lighter than air. I feel like it would take a force to keep me down on the floor. I feel so relieved and it, it is incredible to accept that miracle that this impurity in me that is self-imposed. That the Lord has removed it from me, that He has forgiven my sins and said they’re gone. You are made new. The Lord makes all things new no matter the severity of our sin. So to present ourselves to being restored to that state of grace restored to that state of purity, that is a beautiful way to be like Mary, the first Christian, the perfect Christian.

The Message of the Mass

Another way is going to mass. We’re again by God’s grace and an incredible miracle, we receive the creator of the universe, the God of the universe in the most humble state of the Eucharist. So what happens? Our souls are made new and pure in confession and they look a lot like Mary’s. And then we receive the Lord, body, blood, soul, and divinity, just as she received Him physically. Body, blood, soul and amenity. And so what, what do we do with this receptivity? We receive the Lord, we receive the purity he has to offer. We receive Him physically.

But have you ever noticed that at the end of mass we’re not dismissed. There’s not a dismissal At the end of mass, we are sent The priest or deacon says, go in peace glorifying the Lord by your life. These words are said over and over again and it’s a tail end of mass. Maybe your mind is already ahead. Where did I park the car? What am I going to do this afternoon? Maybe your head is already out of mass. And so these words are hackneyed. We don’t even notice them anymore. Like, oh good, it’s, it’s done. It’s time to go on. It’s time to move on. Move forward. It mass is over. Oh no, Your work as a Christian has begun. It’s renewed every time we’re going to mass go in peace glorifying the Lord by your life. We can mimic this receptivity of Mary through going forth after being made clean and receiving the God of the universe in the Eucharist. By receiving Jesus Christ, we can glorify Him and imitate Him further.

Look Into Your Vocation

And not only was Mary receptive to God, but she was cooperative, right? So Mary went where she needed to go in order to cooperate with His will. So, and I mentioned in the video about simplicity, that it coincides with our vocations, our unique vocations. What is it that the Lord has called you to do? And Mary was a wife, a mother. And so it was the Lord’s will that she fulfilled duties corresponding to these. And I love considering the annunciation having conceived Jesus and hearing about her cousin Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Mary went with haste. It says in scripture she, she rose, she made haste for the for the hill country. She made quick work of it. She received God and then lived accordingly. She was sent forth. So she was moved by grace and joy and went to stay with her cousin. And that setting in Mary cooperating with God’s will that provided the lovely exchange between her and Elizabeth, that is part of our Hail Mary. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. It was in this setting that Mary proclaimed her magnificat. And it was in the setting that she remained with Elizabeth in her pregnancy in both of their pregnancies.

And that’s a, those are smaller, perhaps unnoticed ways that Mary cooperated with God’s will. And of course we know that her ultimate cooperation with the Lord’s will was conceiving bearing and raising the savior of the world, remaining with Him through his death. Because of Mary’s cooperation, the Lord continued to work through her. This for me is where I must examine my activities even down to the minute, right?

Focusing on God’s Plan

I love doing house projects. I love working with my hands, improving our home. And when I start a house project, I get incredibly invested. Recently I was working on one and I was kind of in a transition period. I was thinking strategically, what materials do I need? What do I need to do next? Kind of mapping out the next several hours that I was going to be working. And I heard one of my kids calling for me and then I heard another one of my children crying in pain. And it was this instant reminder that I needed to stop what I was doing and go take care of my kids. Of course, of course you take care of the kids.

Admittedly, I was hesitant. because in that moment I was clinging to my own will. I have a plan, I have, I have an idea of what I want to be doing right now. They’re interrupting. God help me. How often do we look at interruptions from our vocations as a deviation from the plan, as a deviation of our own plans when in fact these interruptions from my children, were not a deviation from God’s plan. On the contrary, they’re in accord with it. So when God interrupts what we are doing with things that are so very clearly part of our vocations, part of the gifts and charisms the blessings that He’s given us, then we have to humble ourselves.

Say, okay, it is so similar in the monastic life that monks have the bell, a bell rings and you go, it’s time to pray. It’s time to go. In Benedictine spirituality, we hear about prayer and work and let your work be a prayer. And so when I, recognized, okay, I want to do this house project, but the Lord is calling me to these children. These children are the task. It is connecting with them, loving them, nurturing them that I need to do. And then I needed to ask Mary like, help me do this. God come to my assistance, Lord make haste to help me. What is it that you need to do considering that we’re made in the image and likeness of God and then called to imitate him? The answers to that question, they’re made clearer to us.

If we’re married, then actively loving and supporting our spouses needs to go at the top of the list. And that’s hard. That’s challenging for us because we have our own ideas and plans, things that we want to do. But our vocations, no matter what they are, they call us outside of ourselves. They call us to come away, to give beyond ourselves. Somebody asked me, what’s the hardest thing that you’ve done habitually in your marriage? And without even hesitating, I said, asking my husband what I can do for him at the beginning of the day. What can I do for you today? Waiting for the answer and then putting it at the top of my to do list. Knowing that if I don’t put it at the top, it’s likely that I won’t get to it, it won’t happen. But because I want to actively love and support him, I’m like, okay, what could I do for you today? What do you need? And then asking God to give me the grace. Help me to do this thing. Charitably, help me to reveal you to my spouse. Religious are called to obedience to their respective authorities and spouses. We are each other’s authority.

And so presenting ourselves to this reality, to this authority and saying, I am here. I am at your service is humbling, but so good and refining for our souls. So whatever it is that the Lord asks of you in the grand scheme of your life with your vocation or considering that you’re made to imitate Him, do that. Consider that down to the minute I’m called to imitate God. How can I do that right now? The result of saying yes and obeying that question of what is it that God asks me to do? Okay, I will do it. The result is a spiritual safety. There’s a deep abiding joy there that lessens the pain of serving or takes the pain away entirely in those times when I have made sure, okay, this task at the top of my to do list this thing that my husband asked me to do. Alright, I did it. And when I’m doing that on a regular basis with charity, because it’s really important, the Lord loves a cheerful giver, right? The result has always been a mutual security and confidence in my relationship with my husband.

Being Receptive to The Lord

So Mary was receptive to the Lord. She was cooperative with his will because she knew what he was calling her to do. And then proceeded, she put herself always in a place of cooperating with God. And then we live that way in faith. It was Albacete Giussani who said that “Faith is the memory of someone who has changed my life.” It is the certainty in the present of that past experience. And so to live in faith is a confidence. The Lord moves me. He changes my life and he has changed my life in the past. He has provided for me in the past, living from that place, living in faith is a joy, right?

And so Mary, having been receptive and cooperative with the Lord’s will then that fuels her faith. And when we do the same, we experience that she’s, she’s all in and what a joy that is possible for us. But a challenge, the graces that Mary has, the blessings that things that came so naturally to her because she’s the immaculate conception, because she was free of sin. Those blessings, those gifts of hers are available to us as well. Though we have to make ourselves available to receive them differently. And it involves so much letting go of our own wills again down to the minute. And this is how we can do it. This is how we can imitate Mary, who is the first Christian, the perfect Christian who is the star of the sea, always guiding us to her son, to union with her son because the world is like ship, not by home.

I’m praying for you as you continue to endure the desert, this Lent.

About Katie Sciba

Katie Sciba is an international speaker, retreat writer, and nine-time Catholic Press Award-winning columnist. She has a degree in theology from Benedictine College, and her work on Catholic minimalism, spiritual intimacy with Jesus, as well as the domestic church has impacted audiences across the map. Katie writes for The Catholic Telegraph in Cincinnati and co-hosts Two Coins Culture, a faith-based podcast on living simply. Her humor and honesty enable her to connect well with a crowd. Katie and her family live in Omaha, Nebraska.