The Vigil of "Yes"

When I decided to turn this into an Online Retreat Day, I confess I had not thought much about it ending on the vigil of the Feast of the Annunciation, one of the most important feast days of the church. But it always good to complete a day of prayer with meditation on this particular moment. Without Mary’s fiat to set the whole mysterious pageant of salvation into its culminating track, where would we be?

Our good friends, the Dominican Nuns of Summit, NJ celebrate this vigil with a special tradition. After a chantress sings the beginning of the Gospel of John, one of the nuns of this Order of Preachers (usually the newest novice) delivers a homily to the community.

I remember liking last year’s thoughts by Sr. Maria Teresa very much. This year, the monastery’s newest novice, Sr. Mary Magdalene, has impressed as well, and given how this past week has felt, for many, a little like the up-ending of the whole world -with an accompanying wonder: “how can this be?”- I want to close this retreat with an excerpt from her talk.

St. Luke tells us the first words spoken by Mary were “How can this be?” (Luke 1:34) Mary did not doubt that it would it happen, but questions the way this outcome will be brought about. “How can this be?” she asks, yet a more descriptive version of this question could be, “How could ANY two humans ever come together to conceive God?” And the angel’s ending response, “Nothing is impossible for God.” (Lk 1:37) What we perceive as a normal reality is at the complete service of the Lord, just like Mary. Through her faith and humility, Mary’s heart receives the words of the angel without any doubt.
…The Blessed Virgin’s parting words to the angel: “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38) The beauty of the Annunciation echoes in each of our souls as we reiterate those words spoken by Mary. Three times a day we pray this, calling to mind what a bold example Our Lady left us. By placing herself at the complete disposition of God, Mary wills only what He wills.

God’s will is so difficult to know. Surprising people are used in surprising ways to achieve his ends. Let us try, through difficult times -the illnesses of our children, the hardships of our budgets, the rapid and ruthless decline of our nation- to remain open to God’s will, and to emulate Mary’s “yes,” despite the whole world of unknowing that a “yes” can lead us into.

Goodnight, all.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • DeLynn

    Let us try, through difficult times -the illnesses of our children, the hardships of our budgets, the rapid and ruthless decline of our nation- to remain open to God’s will, and to emulate Mary’s “yes,” despite the whole world of unknowing that a “yes” can lead us into.

    Amen and amen.

  • zmama

    Our daughter’s birthday is March 26th-that is to say the estimated birthday on our daughter’s medical report from China-but she very likely could have been born on the 25th-the Feast of the Annunciation. It’s something I had not thought much about until this year. Either way, I am forever grateful and we are forever blessed that her birth mother said “yes”-yes to letting her live.

  • Dana

    A friend recently said to me….”In the spiritual life, God provides minimum protection, but maximum support.”
    So many unknowns, and often so many heart aches and suffering. We aren’t protected from those, but it is true that there are people in our lives whose presence remain a mystery until we recognize they just may have been sent by God to support us.
    Let us always be open to these wonderful gifts, and to remind ourselves, as you do, of Mary’s response.

  • Peter West

    I found in this article by Edward Oakes S.J. a lovely capsule argument for the necessity of the Immaculate Conception to the Incarnation. link

  • Gayle Miller

    God’s will is sometimes manifest in the strangest ways. For example, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the state of my refrigerator and the knowledge that I needed to get in there and root out the science experiments lingering in the back. Lo and behold! The fridge decided to decease itself and thus, all morning Wednesday morning I spent my time cleaning out all the dead food in preparation for the hauling away of old fridge for delivery of new fridge! I’m not saying that God broke my refrigerator – but if He did, I’m grateful He did. Now the new one is in place, big and snowy white and gleaming and contains only the food I absolutely need and will use within a two week period. Then my back went out from all the to-ing and fro-ing with black bags of formerly edible food and I spent yesterday sleeping off some muscle relaxers and thus, today, I feel refreshed and ready to rock ‘n roll. Which is not, I assure you, my usual state of mind on a Friday.

    God bless all. I am praying for our nation, the state of my lower back, and the health and prosperity of our Republic, despite the damage being done by the current officeholder!

  • Gayle Miller

    And I notice that chicken breasts are on sale at Giant! I must resist the urge to overbuy! And instead, make a charitable contribution.

  • Fuquay Steve

    I just returned from Rome and witnesses the Solemnity of the Annunciation at St Peters Square. In the am I went to one of the station churches (a different church is designated everyday of Lent) – March 25 was St. Apollinaire. The English mass was at 7 am so I left our hotel early and walked by St Peters square and was struck be its majesty (without few,if any pilgrims at that hour). I could only marvel at the beauty in silence. After mass, I walked around Rome touring various churches (I won’t bore you) but when I returned in the late afternoon, there were thousands and thousands of young adults there singing, chanting and dancing. The emptiness I witnessed in the morning was transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, into a communion of shared belief. It became even more beautiful to me and I wept. I am in awe – the shoulders of our ancients are so strong I just want to be worthy to climb on board. Pray for me.