Advent is a great time to start thinking about the word fiat. No, not Fiat, the cute little Italian car (although that might be exciting to think about, too). Rather, fiat is the Latin word meaning, “Let it be done.” In the Catholic community, it refers to the young Mary’s response when the angel Gabriel announced she would conceive Jesus: “May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Mary’s fiat shows her complete willingness to do God’s will, even without fully understanding what it would mean for her.
Mary’s fiat and the high priority the church places on it can give us pause. Was that “yes” really such a big deal? After all, the angel said, “You will conceive.” Wasn’t Mary basically saying yes to something that God had already planned? Yes, God had already chosen her and had chosen Jesus. Yes, the angel was announcing that God had found favor with Mary, and the tone the angel takes is not one of asking permission.
So why do we celebrate Mary’s “yes”? Because we recognize that whenever God brings something to our lives, we have the free will either to move in rhythm with God or to resist God’s movement. Mary’s fiat shows how we should respond. Even while God’s will is happening in our midst, we can deny it and move away from it. Mary did neither, choosing instead to embrace her new reality.
A fiat to our present situation. It’s easy to try to wish away our current phase of parenting. “I’m finding it hard to actually like my son,” says Dave, father of a 13-year-old boy who is moody and defiant. “I know that everything we say—about homework, limiting his phone, when he has to be home—is going to turn into an argument. Sometimes I’m tempted to just give up and let him do what he wants.”
Despite this temptation, though, Dave and his wife are reading everything they can on parenting teens. They have decided to spend a few minutes as a couple each night, praying for their son. They take turns dealing with their son when he’s especially surly so they can share the burden, and they are considering enlisting the help of a family therapist if the situation doesn’t improve in the next month with their new techniques.
“We’ve read some good tips for changes in the way we communicate with him,” Dave says. “I’m frustrated, but this is where we are right now and we need to figure it out.” Dave’s willingness to enter into his son’s pain, rather than withdraw, is a fiat. …continued next week
By Annemarie Scobey, from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the Best in Class award in 2014 from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for four years running. Here’s a sample issue.
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