Saturday, December 17, 2011

The YES that changes everything

The Annunciation, by James C. Christensen, b. 1942

Patti Gallagher Mansfield has been an international leader of the Charismatic Renewal in the Roman Catholic Church since 1967. She was asked by the Pontifical Council for the Laity to thank Pope Benedict XVI on behalf of all the ecclesial movements and new communities before a crowd of 400,000 people in St. Peter’s Square on the vigil of Pentecost, 2006. In this extract from one of her teachings, she encourages us to say "yes" to God, as Mary did.

Here is Mary, the woman of prayer, attentive and responsive to God. Here is Mary with hands open and empty before God, not clinging to any previous plans, not dictating any conditions. A simple fiat . . . "Yes. Be it done to me according to your word." Indeed, "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord" (Luke 1:45).

By faith she permitted the Father to fulfill his plan. By faith she welcomed the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. By faith she embraced the Word made flesh in her womb. We know that "without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews11:6) and that Mary found favour with him by her faith.

So must we, at this juncture in our lives . . . kneel before the Father in a radical poverty of spirit and learn to pray with hands open and empty . . .

We have received great graces, but I'm afraid that too often our hands have been full instead of empty. I sense that there are new "annunciations" being given for a new move of the Spirit, but that many of us don't really want God to be God. We still want him on our own terms . . . a God who will fit into a prescribed pattern of acting. We don't want the Living God, the God who is, the God who turned Mary's life upside down. Let's be careful!

By her faith, Mary permitted God to "create a new thing upon the earth" (Jeremiah 31:22). As I've asked Mary to be my mother and teach me to pray with hands open and empty, this is what I am learning to say to the Father, "With Mary, I want to be for you all YES, only YES, always YES."


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