Condescension of Compassion: The Annunciation Reveals the Meaning of Life
entirely dedicated to God´s service, given over to God and His worship. If we want to be holy, we need to explore the meaning of these words and make them our own. We are also called to be set apart for the living God. We are to make a place for Him within ourselves and within the world. We are to bear His message through a lifestyle that radiates His love.
It is only by being set apart and consecrated that our own personal histories can be truly transformed. This happens through conversion, or "metanoia", which, in Greek, means "to change." Our hope for change, for becoming holy, is to open our lives to the One who is the source of all goodness and holiness, Jesus Christ. We are called to respond to His invitation, to say "Yes" to a relationship with Him.
This is what Mary´s Fiat is all about. In saying Yes to God, as Mary did, we are able to discover the path to conversion, to holiness, to authentic spirituality. Our call to embrace the Fiat and to make it our own is not a formula for easy spiritual growth, nor is it the first in a series of steps that lead to solving the problems of life. The spiritual life is a path, a Way, and it involves a continuing, ongoing walk with the Lord.
He has invited each of us into an intimate, personal, exchange of love. This kind of intimacy with a living, loving God is the interior meaning of Mary´s Fiat, her Magnificat, and her way of life. When we embrace Mary´s Prayer and make it our own, we allow the Love that Mary bore in her body to be incarnated in and through us, too.
Each of us can say "Yes" to God, right now, wherever we are. Each of us can respond with our entire being, with a Fiat of surrendered love. When we do so, our positive response marks the beginning of a participation in the very life of the God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We become sons and daughters of the Most High and enter into the life of the living God. In Him we find our deepest identity, our real selves, through our participation in the One who made us, who redeems us, and who transforms us by His continual grace.
Conversion begins when we say Fiat with our words and our deeds. It introduces to us a new and dynamic way of living with God, and in God. As we lose ourselves in Him, we find ourselves again, made new and completed. This holy exchange-our life for His-is the essence of the spiritual journey. It is not about power but powerlessness. It is not about increase but decrease. It is not about becoming greater but about becoming smaller. In short, true spirituality is about surrender.
Mary teaches us how to live. Her way is to become an ark within, to open herself to the Word of God and allow Him to make His home within her. It is the same loving Word who became incarnate within her who now takes up His residence within us. He comes to dwell in all men and women who say "Yes" to Him. Mary invites us to participate in the ongoing incarnation of God´s Word, to become vessels of His Love, for the sake of world.
This Feast is an an invitation to live redemptively. The ongoing re-creative and redemptive work of God´s love continues through each one of us individually and in the communion of the Church which is his body. We are invited throughout our life to learn how to become arks, or dwelling places, through which Incarnate Love comes alive for all those around us. We are invited to respond with our own "yes", daily, even hourly, by living a life of surrendered love. We enter more fully into the mystery of the Incarnation as we respond the same way Mary did: "Behold the servant of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to Thy word."
Mary, in her selflessness, was open to the angel´s visit. She recognized who was speaking. She listened, received and responded. In so doing, she shows us the way to respond to the Lord's call in our own lives. God initiates a relationship and we respond in surrender to Him. This dynamic, this heavenly road, leads to a dialogue, a conversation, a communion, a new way of life. By saying Yes, giving our own Fiat. Mary shows us the way to live our lives to the full by living them surrendered to Jesus Christ.
What Pope St Leo calls the " Condescension of Compassion" invites our response today, on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. Mary's Response Reveals the Mystery and Meaning of Life. For more reflections on Mary's "Yes" as a model for every Christian, visit "Mary, Mother of God"
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Annuciation, Magnificat, Fiat, Mary, Mother of God, Rosary, holiness, Lent, piety, prayer, conversion, born again, holiness, sanctity, saints, Deacon Keith Fournier
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