Imagine. You’ve found the purpose of your being, the meaning of your existence, the reason for living. Then it dies. Literally. This is the suffering of Our Lady. This is the Sorrow of Good Friday that remained when she awoke Saturday morning (if she slept at all), until that glorious Sunday when it was as if life was breathed back again into the world asleep in death.
But the sorrow of Our Lady was not one without gratitude for the “great things” God had done for her, for the gift of the 33 years with Our Lord! She did not cease proclaiming the “greatness of the Lord.”
Nor was this sorrow without the hope of his “promise of mercy… the promise he made to our fathers,” the mercy she recounts in the previous stanzas of her Magnificat.
Today, we are very united to Our Lady, to her sorrows. And yet, this makes us all the more grateful and hopeful of the great gifts and mercies the Lord has and will bestow on us!
It is on this Feast that the Stabat Mater and the Magnificat harmonize in the choirs of Heaven, interwoven by the descant of her Fiat, that first “yes” she proclaimed which gave new life to the world. Let us pray with the sorrows of Our Lady, while also remembering her joyful Magnificat, both extensions of her Fiat.
May we always keep our Fiat as the constant hymn on our lips. May it always be our response in our joys, the “magnificats” in our lives when we can only give gratitude to God, for the “great things” we have received. May it always be our response in the sorrows, the “stabat maters” in life where we are challenged to exercise the virtue of hope in His promises; when our purpose, meaning, and reason for life seem to have been torn from our very hearts, and we are rendered unable to find words to sing praise, except the words of Our Lady, “Let it be done unto me according to thy will,” a prelude to the words of Christ, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” May our thoughts, words, and deeds be a “remix” of their words, a resounding symphony of our own Fiat. May we please the ears of our Father in Heaven, all the Saints and Angels, and especially Our Lady- may they shout “Bravo!” “Encore!” to our “solo,” our unique contribution to the Heavenly Hymn of praise.
“Fiat Mihi” -These words have always rung in my heart when thinking about religious life. Ever since I first thought about becoming a sister in fifth grade when hearing about Mother Teresa, the idea of giving everything God asked for appealed to me. When I was going through the application process with the Dominican Sisters nine years later, the vocation director wrote often to us, “Thank you for your continual ‘yes’ to God”. During the entrance weekend retreat, Mother Prioress encouraged us to give our “yes” to God, even when it was painful to leave family. On the feast of the Annunciation, our novice mistress’ feast day, one of the postulants asked what would be a wonderful thing to meditate on, and Sister told us, “Mary’s ‘yes’ to God”. Every day living the life of a sister, I woke up at 5 AM saying “yes” to the sacrifices that the day brought me in the convent. Looking back on these moments when I said “yes” over the past year and a half, while sometimes it was painful, there was joy, especially when I think of my application process. And yet, when it comes to saying “yes” to coming home from the convent, somehow it is not as easy as the other times.
God has truly blessed me with a family that has been supportive of my religious discernment. During the few days that my family visited and in their weekly letters, my mom would tell me to give my “yes” as Mary did at the foot of the cross. Little did she know that while I did love my life in the convent, there was an inner anguish I was going through as I struggled a lot interiorly while living the life of a sister. When I finally discerned that God was asking me to leave after nine beautiful months in the convent, my novice mistress talked to my parents in a parlor with a huge image of the crucifixion. That image has stuck with me during these past few months.
When you look at an image of Mary at the foot of the cross, you can somewhat understand what she felt at the Crucifixion. Mary, with hands touching the bloody feet of her own Son, who was being killed for our sins, did not fully understand. It must have been so utterly painful for her to look up at her Son suffering in agony, and yet not be able to do anything. And yet, she gave the same “fiat” that she did at the Annunciation, knowing it was all a part of God’s perfect plan. She never doubted, she just trusted in God. She may have seemed totally helpless, and yet her confidence in God gave her more freedom than if she struggled against Him and said no. It is by Mary’s fiat at the foot of the Cross that Jesus was able to show forth His glory, defeating sin and death on the cross.
When coming home, there are many things that one can worry about, such as finishing school, finding a job, or finding a place to live. It can be so easy to become depressed and ask, “Who am I supposed to be?” While it is so easy to get caught up in all these worries and questions, it is a perfect time that God gives to strengthen your faith and really give you freedom. Just like Mary at the foot of the cross, we may not understand, but we can have full confidence and trust that God will provide like He always has. A lot of times, the anxiety and fears that we feel during this time are the enslavements we put on ourselves, thinking that the world needs to be on our shoulders.
Entering the convent, you hope to live there forever in chastity, obedience, and of course poverty. The physical poverty that you experience gives you the freedom to rely completely on God. When coming home, I have found the poverty actually more intense. In the convent, while I was poor in the standards of the world, I at least had the security of my community, knowing where formation would take me. But now, God has taken that away from me. Now, I am even poorer than in the convent, for I do not know at this point which step God wants me to take next or even who God has created me to be in regards to my vocation. There is much uncertainty, and this can make one uneasy.
This is a great opportunity that Our Lord gives us, though, to strengthen our trust in Him. When feeling completely lost on what I am to do next, or who I am supposed to be, I have found that I am truly free when I put all my worries behind me, and just move forward with complete abandon, trusting in God. While I may feel as though I am walking in darkness, I trust that He is leading me by His Light. This is very hard to do, and yet, it brings the most freedom, taking the burdens of planning out your life off your shoulders. God creates each person for a particular purpose, and He is leading you on the path to that joy that only He can give. He is leading you through His own way to being the person He has created you to be. You only need to trust Him.
I cannot say I am perfect at abandonment, but God is giving all of us who have left the convent or seminary an opportunity to experience true freedom, a freedom that you may not have even had while living religious life. This freedom is abandonment amidst the uncertainties, the chance to live completely trusting in God’s providence, even though you do not know your vocation at this point. During this time of uncertainty, a wonderful opportunity given by God to grow in faith and trust, just look at the cross, and place yourself at Mary’s side, praying,
“Mary, you never doubted, you just trusted, please help me to do the same.”