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The Prayer of Mary
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By Deacon Keith Fournier
"By pronouncing her "fiat" at the Annunciation and giving her consent to the Incarnation, Mary was already collaborating with the whole work her Son was to accomplish. She is mother wherever he is Savior and head of the Mystical Body" (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 973).
I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be to me according to your Word" (Luke 1:38). This is Mary's "Fiat", her "Yes" to the Lord. It was spoken from a heart filled with pure love for God. In a Biblical context, "heart" is a word that means much more than the fleshy organ at the center of our chest cavity. It refers to our center, the core of each of us, the place where our deepest identity is rooted, and from which our fundamental choices about life are made.
The Annunciation reveals the meaning of the Christian vocation. The Virgin of Nazareth teaches us how to live our real lives in a real world, by saying Yes to the One who created the world and is recreating it through His Son. When the Angel of the Lord appeared, bearing the message and calling her to a special mission, she said "YES." We are invited to say "Yes" as well and believe that "nothing is impossible with God." Let's consider her response to the message: "I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be to me according to your Word." It is in these words that we discover the vocation of every Christian.
Madonna Enthroned Adoring the Sleeping Child Giovanni Bellini - 1475
The Virgin Mary in Prayer - Albrecht Dober - 1518
Among the multitude of profound reflections in the writings of the early Church Fathers on Mary, the Mother of God, we find these words of the Cappadocian Father, Gregory of Nyssa: "What came about in bodily form in Mary, the fullness of the godhead shining through Christ in the Blessed Virgin, takes place in a similar way in every soul that has been made pure. The Lord does not come in bodily form, for 'we no longer know Christ according to the flesh,' but He dwells in us spiritually and the Father takes up His abode with Him, the Gospel tells us. In this way the child Jesus is born in each of us."
Each of us can say "Yes" to God. 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.
Our holiness comes through touching the Holy God, through being filled with His life and love.
Conversion begins when we say our own 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.
Centuries of Christian people have learned that as we lose ourselves in Him, He reveals Himself as a God who can, does and will act in our very real, human daily experiences. He makes it possible for us to have a genuine relationship, a dialogue, with Him. He certainly wants us to live life to the fullest. However, precisely because we were made for Him, we find our fulfillment in emptying ourselves, in selflessness. Then, of course, we are filled and fulfilled in Him. However, this is a fruit and not a goal. He is the goal.
Mary's Prayer teaches us to stay afloat in the ocean of life, with all of its undertows. Mary's way is to become an ark within, where the same God who became incarnate within her takes up His residence in us.
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