Photo: Marie Romagnano
The 'Yes' that Changed the World
The Marians of the Immaculate Conception celebrated a feast day near and dear to them on Dec. 8 — the great Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary — at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, in Stockbridge, Mass.
Mary, the Mother of our Redeemer, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin by a singular privilege and grace granted by God.
"The problem with the world in which we live is that it is full of sin and corruption," said Fr. David Lord, MIC, the rector of the Shrine, in his homily. "So full, in fact, that we often equate being human with being sinful."
He said we need to model ourselves on Mary, who was without sin, in order "to seek God's merciful love and a conversion and change of heart, and continue to say 'yes' to God as He calls us to the future full of hope."
Father David noted that when Mary said "yes" at the Annunciation — "yes" to the Divine Plan to give birth to the Redeemer — she offered herself as an instrument of God, unanchored to possessions and obsessions of the material world. And she shows us how, through possessing and desiring nothing but God, one can be blessed with riches of salvation.
In a selfish, materialistic world filled with violence and isolation, Fr. David called on people to say "yes," as Mary did.
"Mary's 'yes' altered the course of history and ushered in the dawn of man's salvation," said Fr. David. "The entire cosmos dances as Mary says 'yes' to the angel. What a glorious and blessed sight this lowly and beauteous handmaid is."
To his fellow Marians, who renewed their vows on this evening, Fr. David said that Mary's "yes" continues to be made flesh in this world by the Marians of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, "who in 17 countries around the country continue to say 'yes' to the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
"In a world that is deceitful, we are called to join our voice with hers ... and say that 'yes' loud and clear," said Fr. David.
To all in attendence, he said: "Sometimes this future may cause us to be perplexed or anxious. Yet, the words of the angel to Our Lady are addressed to us today: 'Be not afraid' (Lk 1:30). Be not afraid to say 'yes' to God as He calls you forward into service, which is your heroic duty. In the end, by saying 'yes' to God, we are doing nothing more than our duty."
Indeed, the Gospels tell us it is no good merely to hear the word of God. The Gospels give marching orders to those who say "Yes, Lord" but do nothing about it.
As the Letter to the Hebrews states: "The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow" (4:12).
Thus, the word of God must not only be felt deeply in the soul, but it must become the engine for our activities — an engine sparked by a simple, heartfelt "yes."
It was only fitting that the recessional hymn of the Mass was, "Sing a New Song," with the words:
Sing a new song unto the Lord,
let your song be heard from mountains high.
Sing a new song unto the Lord,
The Marians encourage you to "Sing a New Song" — to take a moment and contemplate the humble maiden of Nazareth who was greeted by the archangel Gabriel with these extraordinary words:
"Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you ... Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of David his father, and He will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end" (Lk 1:28-34).
Let us look to Mary as our model of what we can become by God's all powerful grace. The Marians pray that you may experience the fullness of God's grace in your life during this Advent.