by Margo Borders
In the middle of the Advent season, we are in a process of patient, or often impatient, waiting. We are waiting for Christmas, for our finals to be over, to fly home to see our families and catch up on sleep. While we are working hard and peacefully waiting, keeping our minds in contemplation of the Advent season can be difficult, but worthwhile in order to continue to challenge ourselves and grow spiritually.
One important and applicable notion to contemplate this Christmas season is the Virgin Mary. The recently celebrated Feast of the Immaculate Conception calls to mind an important dogma of the Church: freedom from original sin. Being pure and unblemished from the stain of sin, Mary was able to carry God within her. She was an “uncorrupted Virgin, a Virgin free by grace from every stain of sin,” as St. Ambrose explains.
Mary’s complete submission to God allowed her to say yes at the annunciation when the angel Gabriel appeared to her. Her response is called her fiat. She says, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”
We can look at Mary’s fiat as a perfect virtue that we can imitate in our own lives. We too can be handmaids of the Lord, seeking to serve Him in even the smallest details of our lives. St. Ambrose says that her life is “like a mirror reflecting the face of chastity and the form of virtue. Therein you may find a model for your own life…showing what to improve, what to imitate, what to hold fast to.” Mary is human just like us, so she is a relatable model of how we can live. She can help guide us in virtue along the path to the Father because of her perfect humanity and her closeness to her Son.
Mary shows us that we all have the vocation to sanctity. She was given the grace of God to live out her perfect virtue, and we are also given this grace each day. Mary’s fiat was an acceptance of the vocation that God had planned for her, and her simple acceptance of her vocation allowed for the salvation of the world. Each of us should look at our vocation in the same serious way. If we accept and love the vocation that God has planned for us, we can do His will in the world. While this may not have the far-reaching consequences of Mary’s yes to God, it will be just as precious to God.
Our freedom is most fully lived out when we use our freedom to follow God’s will as Mary did. We can strive towards Jesus through Mary through our prayers to her and striving to live out her perfect model of holiness. In contemplating her purity, we become more like her, and more fully and anxiously await the coming of the Son of God who perfects us in the most complete way.