“Pray to Mary for your personal fiat,” my former spiritual director, Fr. Chris Smith (now deceased) said matter-of-factly. I was in my late twenties, still somewhat of a newlywed, without children – and I felt lost. I’d been going to spiritual direction to our pastor for several months, and I was at the point where I knew God was calling me to something deeper.
Fr. Chris had developed a close relationship to Our Lady when he was in the diaconate and had gone on pilgrimage to Medjugorje as a young man. He knew I needed to give God my yes, my all, just as the Blessed Mother had.
Each year, on March 25, we traditionally celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation, in which Mary received the blessed news from St. Gabriel that she would become the Mother of God Incarnate. The fruits of meditating on this feast, which we can also do as part of praying the First Joyful Mystery, is to ask for Mary’s humility to flood our hearts.
THE GIFT OF MARY’S YES
It’s interesting to note that Mary asked St. Gabriel a question of him – “How can this be?” – which is comparable to the one Zechariah asked in the Temple when told Elizabeth would bear a child in her old age. Why was he struck mute, while the Blessed Mother was given a straight answer? We can only conclude that Mary was not asking out of doubt or mistrust, but rather of innocence. Zechariah, however, did doubt.
Applying this to our own lives, we can turn to Our Lady and ask her to bring about a greater trust in God’s providence when we don’t understand why or how certain circumstances happen to us. She is the epitome of perfect faith, and we, as her adopted children, are offered a participation in this grace.
GIVING OUR YES TO GOD
It’s hard to give our own fiat to God. I think this is because it requires so much of us – surrender, confidence, peace. As modern people, we are conditioned to want control over our lives. We believe that autonomy and worldly success are hallmarks of contributing, or making our mark upon, society.
But Mary’s fiat is a perfect example of how God works through us best when we are empty of pretense, expectations, and power. Her perfect humility serves as a role model for us when we are questioning what direction God wants us to go. What we say to Him is always, undoubtedly, “yes.”
It’s easy to speak the words, but to live our fiat from the heart is another matter. I think this is a gradual experience for most of us. We do not usually have some radical conversion, like St. Paul. Rather, we renew our yes to God each new day – when we are struggling with suffering, darkness, doubt, discouragement. We proclaim it when we are celebrating life’s successes, owing them to God’s benevolence.
Our yes will not be like Mary’s, because we are imperfect humans. But we can strive to reach for whatever God is asking of us. Many times this will involve difficulties and situations that challenge us. In my own life, my fiat involved a letting go of what I wanted out of life, as in the case when I finally told my grandfather he could leave this earth if he was ready.
There are often fears involved with our fiat. How do we know we are following God’s will? What if we are making a terrible mistake? What will He ask of us? Again, in my own experience, it all begins with a pure, authentic desire to do what God beckons.
He often reveals a little at a time for us, so that we are not overwhelmed. It’s in the step-by-step moving forward on the path He lays before us that brings us to understand – eventually, when we are on the cusp of the afterlife – how everything comes together.
When we are tempted to become like Zechariah and doubt God’s promises in desert moments, seasons of suffering, or prolonged trials, we can pray to our Blessed Mother for a portion of her generous heart. That is where we begin with our personal fiat – by joining it with hers.
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