Solemnity of the Annunciation

Saying “Fiat,” “May it be done,” to what we did not originally choose.

St. Charles is a Life Teen Parish. May of you are familiar with that fact. And our theme for Life Teen this year is the word Fiat. Fiat is a Latin word which means “Let it be” or “May it be.” And it is the word that Mary said to the angel at the Annunciation. She said, “May it be done to me according to your word.” Fiat.

At this time when Mary said Fiat, “May it be done to me,” she was not aware of all the different things that would happen to her Son. She was not aware of the fact that He would be eventually betrayed, that He would eventually suffer, be tortured, be executed, and eventually die. And yet she said Fiat, “May it be done.”

As I was praying with this gospel reading this morning, I imagined this scene of the Annunciation taking place in a modern hospital, and a doctor or nurse coming to Mary and saying, “Mary, you are to become the Mother of God. And to accept that, you must first give your free consent to all the possible side effects and complications that may come from that. So, Mary, here’s a list of those possible side effects and complications, I need you to read and understand them, and initial them. BVM is fine.” So Mary is going through this list: your Son will be betrayed, He will suffer, He will be tortured, He will be crucified, He will die. And she has to give her informed consent to all these possible side effects and complications from becoming the Mother of God.

Of course, it didn’t happen this way. Mary was not aware of all those possible “side effects and complications,” for lack of a better term. But when those things took place, when her Son eventually experienced all of those things, it’s not like Mary took back her word; it’s not like Mary said, “Whoa, Lord, I didn’t sign up for this; Lord, I can’t say Fiat to this.” No! When all of this eventually took place, when her Son was betrayed, Mary said Fiat, “May it be done.” When her Son was tortured, she said Fiat, “May it be done.” When her Son was crucified, she said Fiat, “May it be done.” And when her Son eventually died on the Cross she said Fiat, “May it be done.”

And Mary was able to do this because she had a very profound and radical interior freedom. Freedom means not just giving our consent to what we choose; but freedom especially means giving our consent to what we did not originally choose. And Fr. Jacques Philippe in his book Interior Freedom, a book that I’d strongly recommend to all of us during this time, he writes this—it’s very beautiful—he says:

[W]e also need to understand that there is another way of exercising freedom: less immediately exciting, poorer, humbler, but much more common, and one immensely fruitful, both humanly and spiritually. It is consenting to what we did not originally choose.

It is worth stressing how important this way of exercising our freedom is. The highest and most fruitful form of human freedom is found in accepting, even more than in dominating. We show the greatness of our freedom when we transform reality, but still more when we accept it trustingly as it is given to us day after day.

It is natural and easy to go along with pleasant situations that arise without our choosing them. It becomes a problem, obviously, when things are unpleasant, go against us, or make us suffer. But it is precisely then that, in order to become truly free, we are often called to choose to accept what we did not want, and even what we would not have wanted at any price. There is a paradoxical law of human life here: one cannot become truly free unless one accepts not always being free!

To achieve true interior freedom we must train ourselves to accept, peacefully and willingly, plenty of things that seem to contradict our freedom. This means consenting to our personal limitations, our weaknesses, our powerlessness, this or that situation that life imposes on us, and so on. We find it difficult to do this, because we feel a natural revulsion for situations we cannot control. But the fact is that the situations that really make us grow are precisely those we do not control.

As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation, we are called today to say Fiat, “May it be done,” not only to those things that we choose, but to those things which we did not originally choose: To follow the example of Mary in giving her Fiat at every moment of her life, even to those things which were unpleasant, which caused deep suffering, that were outside of her control.

So Blessed Mother, we call upon today to help us say Fiat, “May it be done,” at every moment of our lives.