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Mary’s Fiat and Ours
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 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.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” 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.
Opening Prayer: Heavenly Father, draw me into this time of prayer with you, on this feast day of your Mother. Your whole Church rejoices today, in Heaven and on earth, for this singular privilege that you wished to give your Mother: In anticipation of the saving merits of Jesus Christ, you wished to preserve her from the stain of original sin. Let me enter into this time of prayer and be moved in awe, as you wished to be, by the beauty of your Mother’s fiat. May her words also take flesh in my own life, Jesus.
- Her Name Was Mary: The Evangelist St. Luke introduced this young woman to us simply: “and the virgin’s name was Mary.” The angel’s title reflected the truth that she is filled with grace, with God’s life in her soul. He made the invitation on God’s behalf, and she pondered it. Yet, was her soul so united to God that thinking about something to herself was also a sharing of it with the Lord? As she pondered what this might mean, was she not also asking God to help her know how to respond to him? So bound was her heart to his that she did nothing alone; everything was shared with him. How different would our lives be if we strove to live in the same way?
- Heaven Meets Earth as Never Before: What other moment in the history of humanity has existed, quite like this—where God was ready to enter the world he created in a way never imagined before, taking upon himself our human nature and becoming like us, in all things but sin, so as to save us? St. Bernard and many others contemplated this scene in which the messenger of God approached a young girl while the rest of the created world, all the angels and patriarchs, waited in anticipation and suspense for her reply. In this moment of prayer, let us ask for the grace to enter into that moment, to experience that suspense and great admiration for Mary’s free and loving response to God.
- Earth Responds to Heaven as Never Before: What other moment in history has a child offered so perfect and complete a response to her Father’s daring invitation? What other fiat offered such perfect beauty, purity, and homage to the living God? In the sincere offering and acceptance of this young girl before her Lord, all the fíats of the Old Covenant found fulfillment, and yours and mine also find a home. May our hearts be moved by this wonder: God wished to make himself vulnerable to Mary’s response, and he opens himself to receive our fiats as well.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, I wish to let this truth settle and make a home in my heart: You invite me, as you invited your Mother, to cooperate with God in the plan of salvation of the world. Let this scene and these truths resonate in my heart, Jesus, and bring your desires to take flesh in my life: fiat. Mother, may I be drawn into your fiat, in awe, with a desire to love and give myself to God too.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will strive to imitate Mary by responding with docility and acceptance to your inspirations throughout the day: fiat.
For Further Reflection: You may wish to read this reflection of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, contemplating this moment.
Beth Van de Voorde is a Regnum Christi Consecrated Woman, currently serving in pastoral ministry to families in Madrid and Valencia, Spain. When she’s not reading Ratzinger or humming along to some song or another, you may find her making her pilgrim way through Spain’s timeless history of faith, walking alongside the beautiful families and young people she’s there to serve.