Today is a happy day, not just because we are in the full swing of Advent, all things Christmas and the general joy of the season, but also because today is the celebration of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is a celebration that Mary was preserved from original sin from the moment of conception. It’s easy to forget that all our lives are really a series of the answer “yes”. Sometimes it’s not even us saying yes, but other people taking that step for us, and then leading us down a path predestined by God’s plan. In Mary’s case, it was her mother, Saint Anne. In the Qu’ran, it is said that Anne thought she was going to have a boy, and upon giving birth to Mary proclaimed,
“Then, when she brought forth she said: My Lord! Truly, I brought her forth, a female. And God is greater in knowledge of what she brought forth.”
I’ve mentioned before the analogical story of having a child with special needs is like embarking on a vacation to Italy, only to have your plane land in Holland. It’s shocking and scary and not at all what was planned, but a beautiful trip nonetheless. I realize that there are people who see our situation and think how difficult it must be, and the fear of challenges lie ahead. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned is the power of humility and just saying “yes” to God’s plan. It doesn’t mean it’s not scary, but it has forced me to be completely humbled and has given me this beautiful gift of complete faith. You see, when you feel as if your world has shifted in a way that is unexpected and not part of your plan, and quite frankly not something you had ever wished for, you begin to surrender to an understanding that this life isn’t always about what you want. There’s a bigger plan out there for us, friends, and that means sometimes the path is scary, or doesn’t make sense, or doesn’t fit our definition of success. But that doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful! Trust me when I say that sometimes the most beautiful days follow the stormiest nights.
So once St. Anne said yes, then it was Mary’s turn. Did you ever wonder what would have come of our world if Mary had said “no?” Our salvation completely rested on a young girl who rightfully feared her own persecution, but she completely surrendered herself to the benefit of all of humanity. Mary is a powerful force, and yet that power began with a simple yes to God’s plan. In a sense, her power began with a response in humility. What a lesson for us, especially in today’s world.
I came to understand Mary’s power in I asked begged for her intercession on my behalf. I asked her mother-to-mother, to please give me her grace and to spare the life of my child so that we could share in her joy. I’m sure Mary had these moments, too: begging God to spare her son, but that wasn’t the plan, and so once again she surrendered. She now sits on her throne as the Queen of Heaven (what a title!) with her son by her side. You see, the darkness led to her beautiful day, too.
I come from a long line of strong Texas women, and I like to think that if Mary were around today, she’d have a standing invitation to Sunday dinners and Christmas parties at my Mah’s house. Mah had a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother and her daily acts of love and service were her constant yes-es. It takes a strong yet humble heart to live such a way, and Mah was the embodiment of that lifestyle. I now seek Mah and Mary’s interventions for my daily “yes”.