What is Mary’s Myers-Briggs?
Do you know about Mary or do you actually know her? What was she like? How did she speak? What did she care about? What made her laugh? If you’re like me, you really want to get to know Mary – but how do we do that? We can learn or deduce aspects of her personality from Scripture, scholarly texts and both ancient and modern books written about her. Perhaps the very best way to know the Blessed Virgin is through prayer and contemplation, but during this month, let’s try a new, creative approach.
Let’s shine a light on Mary with one of the most famous personality profiling tools: the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. While the Myers-Briggs is far from perfect, and an exercise like this might seem a little silly, this tool, our imagination, and the information available to us, can help us think deeply about Mary in a new way, which perhaps will help us get to know her a little bit more.
INTROVERT (I) VS. EXTROVERT (E)
Often mistaken for being the difference between being sociable and being shy, the first pair of personality traits actually indicates from where we get our energy. Extroverts are energized by active involvement in many events and people, while introverts are energized by ideas, personal reflections, memories and solitude. So which one is Mary? This might be the easiest trait to guess…
“He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.” (Lk. 2:51)
Externally processing thoughts and feelings is an extrovert tendency. Mary doesn’t seem to want attention, and this fits the understanding that Mary points us to Christ, never to herself. Mary’s first type indicator is Introvert (I).
SENSING (S) VS. INTUITION (N)
This second pair of personality traits considers how we take in information about the world. The S focuses on details and relies on physical reality for information (taste, touch, smell, hearing, etc.). The N looks for the big picture, looking beyond the details for impressions, patterns and ideas. This might be the toughest indicator to figure out for Mary, but…
“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Lk. 1:31-33)
“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (Jn. 19:26-27)
I’m going to assume that God knows how to speak to Mary’s heart, and in these two examples, God speaks, not about the moment’s details, but about the great plan beyond the moment. If God spoke to Mary through the big picture, that’s good enough for me. Mary’s second type indicator is Intuition (N).
THINKING (T) VS. FEELING (F)
This third pair of personality indicators relates to how we make decisions, and it is often misunderstood. In this, thinking is not just using logic, and feeling is not being overly emotional. Everyone uses both rational thought and emotion when making decisions; however, the T relies on objective principles and facts, ignoring circumstances, whereas the F cares more about values, the people involved and personal concerns. So what about Mary?
“When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.’” (Lk. 2:48)
Mary knows that Jesus is God. She knows He is perfect. All the facts are there. But how Mary voices her concerns emphasizes the circumstance’s personal concerns and values beyond just the situation’s facts. Mary’s third type indicator is Feeling (F).
JUDGING (J) VS. PERCEIVING (P)
The last pair of personality indicators reflects how we orient ourselves with the rest of the world. The J prefers that decisions be made, schedules be set and plans be thoroughly reviewed. The P is typically more flexible and spontaneous, trusting that things will work out. Which one best describes Mary?
“Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.”(Lk. 1:38) “When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ His mother said to the servers, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’” (Jn. 2:3,5)
In both instances, Mary does not need to know the plan, the details, but trusts that God’s Will be done. She gives overall planning, schedules and control to the Lord. Her preference is clear. Mary’s third type indicator is Perceiving (P).
MARY IS AN INFP
Those who are INFP tend to be quiet, introspective, and extremely caring and creative. Empathy is usually among their greatest characteristics, and others describe INFPs as contemplative and kind. Does this sound like the Mary you know?
Of course, we could have this all wrong. Perhaps Mary supersedes all analysis and understanding, and it is pointless to try contemplating the wonder of her personality. But perhaps not. Perhaps a little time spent combining what we know about Mary with our God-given imaginations can lead us to a deeper relationship with her than ever before.
Dominick Albano is The Catholic Telegraph’s director of digital engagement, as well as an author and national speaker. He and his wife have been married for 14 years and have four sons. [email protected]
This article appeared in the May 2022 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.