Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)
As I begin my venture into blogging, I thought that I would start by utilizing the Sunday liturgical readings as a weekly anchor and to give structure to my “Catholic Counselor Lady” rantings. Pleasantly and to my surprise, the Gospel readings for this Sunday December 18, 2011 happen to contain Mary’s Fiat. Serendipitously, I find no better way to launch this adventure into cyberspace.
Some may be surprised that the Blessed Virgin Mary had a Fiat. A quick internet search of the term returns sites that feature a classic Italian car – a cute little car that looks like it gets great gas mileage. But for sure I am no expert on cars and I would not want to start a blog pretending to know anything about such. In fact, my own vehicle at this moment is in need of servicing.
The Fiat that I begin with has another meaning; one which can be applied to our everyday lives and can take on great psychospiritual significance. Dictionary.com states that the term fiat is from the Latin phrase, “Let it be done”. As a noun it is an “authoritative decree, sanction, or order.”
In my studies of clinical psychology I learned that there is a difference between authoritative and authoritarian when it comes to leadership styles and parenting. I have to admit that in the past, I never really paid attention or realized that the two terms should not be used interchangeably. The former involves coming from a loving respectful stance and allows the receiver the freedom to take responsibility. The Authoritative is actually quite ethical operating out of the concept of beneficence (considering the well being of the client). However, the latter- Authoritarian- infers bossiness, is bent toward selfishness, and has little regard for authority. The Authoritarian states: “Do it because I say so or else”. Understanding the distinction between these concepts is actually important when looking at Mary’s Fiat.
Mary’s Fiat is the supreme example of submitting ourselves to God’s will. She demonstrates to us the utmost act of humility. She responds to God’s authority—authoritative and not authoritarian. Looking at Mary’s submission to God’s authority tells not only about Mary, but also shows us a lot about God. God’s will works for the best in us. God’s will allows for freedom. God’s will operates out of love.
And where are we now? Where does our fiat bring us? Do we feel out of control with our lives? Or are we confused about what to do? It is actually a great grace to feel out of control – because it is at that moment that we can give God control. Or do we feel that we are in complete control and don’t need any help? As mentioned above, the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Fiat tells us about what it means to submit to God’s will. Many look at the life of faith as being a set of rules, especially if it means following the 10 Commandments. Many might feel that if they let God have control of their lives, then that means they have lost something. But giving up control does not mean giving up responsibility. In giving control to God, we are actually taking responsibility. In fact, our authoritative Father God encourages us to take responsibility for our lives. This involves being open to the will of God and responding to His invitation.
There is so much packed into the Fiat of the Blessed Virgin Mary! Good thing that it is not that little car because I know what it is like to pack a small vehicle!
It is with these thoughts that I hope to launch my blog –on the apron strings of Our Lady: “May it be done to me according to your word.”
Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC from http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121811.cfm
fiat. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved December 13, 2011, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fiat