Today we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel came to Our Lady and asked her of her willingness to carry the child Jesus in her womb. We often reflect on Mary’s Fiat at this time, her willingness to surrender to the will of God in uncertain times, her beautiful obedience and trust in God the Father.
For many of us, this will be the first year that we celebrate this feast day without the sacrifice of the Mass. We will not be able to reflect on the importance of this day while receiving the miracle of Our Lord in the host, and I, for one, find it all very disorienting. My personal response to the current crisis has been a feeling of numbness, a tinge of depression manifesting itself in a lack of motivation, or an overall sense of feeling lost. And yet, simultaneously, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the domestic church and for all the noise and life that surrounds me.
Like many of you, I have been grateful for the slowing of the pace of life. Empty toilet paper aisles aside, I am loving that our large family isn’t going ten different directions, that we are able to enjoy games, and movies, and prayer times, and the gift of simply being together. In this time of Lent, as we reflect on the gift of the Annunciation, as we begin that nine-month countdown to Christmas, we are in a unique situation to truly marvel at the gift of family. God chose to be born of a woman; he used the family, the domestic church, as the way to redeem the world.
That calling has not changed for our families. There are so many parallels for us today as we reflect on Mary’s response to the Lord. She was afraid; there was so much that was unknown. God only required her “yes,” and he promised to take care of the rest. God is asking us to trust him. He is asking us to embrace our domestic churches, to submit them to the perfect and loving will of the Father, and to say, “Let it be done to me according to thy Word.” We don’t know what the future holds, nor do we know how long these strange times will last, but we do know that we need not be afraid! We, as a family, can be the voice of faith, and hope, and love to the world. We can remind one another that God is always in control, and his ways are always good. We can embrace these times as an opportunity to grow closer to one another and closer to God, and we can allow him to use the domestic church, our prayers, our sacrifices, our unconditional love to be a light to a dark and frightened world. We have hope, friends. Even in the midst of Lent, he gives us feast days to celebrate. There is always light.
So, as we continue in this time of forced isolation, let’s ask the Lord what he wants for our domestic church. How can we, as the body of Christ, respond in love to a dying world? We can give our fiat, and he can change the course of history. He is our hope and our salvation. We need not be afraid.