Walking the Final Stretch of the Year of Faith Hand in Hand with Mary

by Mauricio I. Pérez | Source: http://seedsmagazine.wordpress


The Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI to celebrate 50 years of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and 20 years of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church will end in a few weeks. The solemnity of Christ, King of the Universe on November 23rd will mark the end of this holy year. It is of crucial importance to the Catholic Church to walk this final stretch of the Year of Faith hand in hand with Mary, mother of our faith.

   One of the most important events of the Year of Faith has taken place on the weekend of November 13th. Marian congregations and movements from around the world gathered at the Vatican, pilgrimaging to St. Peter's sepulcher, praying a worldwide rosary on the evening of Saturday from different sanctuaries in the world, and culminating with the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by Pope Francis on Sunday.

   For the act of consecration, the original statue of our Lady of Fatima, that still bears in its crown one of the bullets shot at blessed Pope John Paul II, was brought from its sanctuary in Portugal to St. Peter's Square.

   How important and how beautiful it has been for the Church to gather around Mary to celebrate the Year of Faith. Just as the apostles did in the cenacle when the Holy Spirit came upon them on the feast of Pentecost. After this Marian gathering, it is time for the Church to raise and walk together the final stretch.

   Each of us must learn from the faith of Mary, as she was the one who also taught her son Jesus to trust his Father in Heaven.

   We acknowledge Mary as the mother of our faith because she was the first to believe in Jesus. When the archangel announced to Mary that she would conceive a child, she could not understand how this could be without the participation of Joseph. This was against all logic. And also against the law. She could be repudiated by Joseph and then die by lapidation by the angry people of her village. Still, she surrendered to God "Here is the handmaid of the Lord" (Lk 1:38a) and abandoned herself to his will with total trust, "May it be done to me according to your word." (38b) Implicitly, Mary was telling God through the archangel, "Thy will be done."

   We have always expressed Mary's faith with the Latin word Fiat, let it be done. From her encounter with the archangel and along the rest of her life, Mary made of this Fiat the core of her prayer -"Thy will be done." Along her life, many things she would not understand. Yet, she would keep them in her heart trusting it was all the will of God.

   Mary, as all good mothers do, transmitted her faith to her son. All of us learn our faith from our mothers, who make us pray every night as they put us into bed. We inherit our faith in God by means of learning the basic prayers from our mother. We all start by learning the Lord's Prayer and calling God "our Father". It was Jesus himself who taught this prayer to his disciples when they asked him to teach them how to pray.

   The Lord's Prayer has seven petitions. One of them being precisely "Thy will be done." Who did Jesus learn this prayer from? Evidently, from his mother Mary. Being the Fiat the habitual prayer of Mary, for sure she taught Jesus to pray the same way. In turn, he taught to his disciples this prayer and now we all repeat this petition every time we pray the Our Father. The prayer Jesus prayed. The prayer he learned from Mary.

   This teaching of Mary would become crucial for Jesus' salvific mission in the most dramatic moment of his life on Earth. At the Garden of the Olives, Jesus awaited the moment of his arrest, that will lead to his imminent dead in the cross. Jesus was in agony. Because he knew well the Scripture, he was familiar with the Chant of the Suffering Servant in which Isaiah vividly describes with crude detail the suffering the Messiah would undergo (Is 53). The deepest sadness invaded Jesus' heart. He needed the comfort of his closest friends, Peter, James, and John, but they had fallen asleep.

   For an instant, the temptation of stepping back from his mission crossed his mind. "Father, if it you are willing, take this cup away from me" (Lk 22:42a-b). But then, at that very instant, Jesus recalled the powerful prayer he had learned from his Mother. And as she did when the archangel announced his birth to Mary and nothing made sense, Jesus surrendered himself as a servant and abandoned himself trusting his Father "Still, not my will but yours be done" (42c-d).

   To have faith does not mean to believe in God. Even the demons believe that God is one (Jas 2:19d). True faith means rather to trust God with no conditions or reservations. To have faith means to surrender to God as his servants and to abandon ourselves to him trusting that he has everything in his hands. To have faith means to declare like Mary in the Annunciation and like Jesus at Gethsemane "Fiat, Thy will be done."

   As we walk this final stretch of the Year of Faith, let us do it hand in hand with Mary, mother of our faith. And learn from her, just as Jesus did, to trust God always. To trust God no matter what. And when things go wrong and even get worse, to trust God even more: "Fiat, Thy will be done."

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