Yesterday was the great celebration of the incarnation, the Annunciation, when “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” exactly nine months before Christmas.
But God prepared it so that his incarnation was dependent on Mary giving her “fiat”: “ Be it done unto me according to your will.”
She therefore left us a great model for fulfilling God’s will in our lives. Think of it as the F.I.A.T. of accepting God’s desire.
F stands for fortitude
Not only courage, but the special gift of the Holy Spirit.
When Angel Gabriel first visited Mary, he said “Do not be afraid, “for you have found favor with God.”
When Angel Gabriel asked her to be the mother of the “son of the Most High,” the angel also told her that it is the Holy Spirit who will make it possible.
And this is exactly what happens in our lives, whenever we have to do the will of God.
We may be asked to change our daily style of living, or have an uncomfortable conversation, or expose ourselves to dismissiveness for our faith. But it scares us, which it’s not necessary.
According to a spiritual writer, Blessed Columba Marmion “It is the Holy Spirit who, sustains us by the gift of fortitude in moments that are particularly difficult, and it is this strength that makes martyrs, and sustains virgins.
The world is always astonished to see them so courageous because it imagines they find their strength in themselves, whereas they draw their strength from God alone.”
Fortitude is actually the voice of the Holy Spirit within us saying, “Do not be afraid, I will be with you.”
I stands for initiative
Like the fiat of God the Father.
Catholics mainly focus on the Blessed Mother’s fiat, but there is a related “fiat” that came earlier which is even more well known: And that is, God’s original command “Let there be light!
And the Light becomes “the power of the Most High,” which Angel Gabriel told Mary will “overshadow you.”
The fiat of God the Father is a fiat of initiative and so is Mary’s. She didn’t just wait for God to act, she actively did his will.
You see the initiative when she rushed to Elizabeth’s side to help her pregnant cousin, you see it when she noticed that the wedding feast at Cana was running out of wine, and you see it when she gathered the apostles at Pentecost.
Psalm 40 is a great prayer for initiative, and the Psalm used at Mass for the Feast of the Annunciation especially the refrain, “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.”
A stands for acceptance
Determining ahead of time to be okay with the consequences of God’s will.
St. John Paul II explained that Mary didn’t know exactly what she was getting into when she said “fiat.”
He said that “At the point of the Annunciation, Mary does not yet know of the sacrifice which will mark the mission of Christ,”. Nonetheless, when Simeon later told her just how bad it would be, “Mary was ready to live all that divine love may plan for her life, even to the extent that ‘sword’ will pierce her soul.”
Saying Yes to God doesn’t just mean doing the will of God today, it means going down a road that will take you to places you never expected, or wanted, to go. And stepping out anyway.
T stands for thanksgiving
Which is the central attitude in Mary’s own commentary on her “fiat.”
If all of this that makes a “fiat” sound like drudgery, Mary’s “Magnificat” prayer can correct that impression. By looking at every step of her fiat with gratitude, she fills the whole process with positive energy.
Doesn’t really mean bracing oneself for unpleasantness; it means embracing God’s goodness. Mary, using the words from her encounter with the angel, describes it this way: “My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaiden, For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.”
Is not a high obstacle you have to clear to get started, it’s the natural consequence of working with God. In that, Mary said, “For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name, “He has shown strength with His arm. He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their hearts.”
Doesn’t mean fighting through suffering. Mary sees it as freeing ourselves from shackles: when she said, “He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree. He has filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He has sent empty away.”
Above all, changes the whole exercise for Mary. As her fiat is ours. Let it be done according to her will.