Today, when we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation, we are again confronted with that moment of unequalled faith and trust when Mary said her Fiat to the Lord. For each of us there is a day when we must say our own Fiat, and say it as completely and trustingly as she did. Many years ago I thought I had said my own Fiat once for all when I pronounced my vows as a Benedictine, but I realise now how wrong I was. Just as Mary had to go on affirming her original consent, so do we all until we come to the day of our death when we say our final ‘yes’ to God.
These thoughts were prompted by hearing of the death of Fr Terrence Kardong of Assumption Abbey. His translation and commentary on the Rule are well known. Perhaps less well-known is the fact that he became a great scholar of the Rule only in later life and had to put a huge effort into learning the languages he needed to achieve his purpose (we commiserated with one another on the subject of academic German). We sometimes forget that anything worthwhile will require effort and sacrifice. For Mary there was the giving up of the dream of a normal life and the acceptance of misunderstanding, pain and sorrow— all done in an instant because she had formed the habit of saying ‘yes’ to God. Yet had she not given her consent to be the Mother of God, where would we be?
As we thank God for the gift of Mary and all the graces that have come to us through her acceptance of her role in our salvation, let us also pray for Fr Terrence — giving thanks, yes, but also praying for him as a monk who would most earnestly desire to be freed from every trace of sin, for if we do not understand the connnection between the Annunciation and the forgiveness of sin in Christ we have failed to understand the reason for the Incarnation and the absolute importance of Mary’s consent.