When I think of faith I think first of my childhood training in the catholic tradition and the act of faith prayer I committed to memory: ‘O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins, and that he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the holy Catholic Church teaches, because you have revealed them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived. Amen.’ As I matured into womanhood faith was associated with personal prayers, regular church services on Sunday, holidays and when possible throughout lent. Eventually, those encounters became more and more rote and less and less nurturing.
Fortunately, I paid attention to my restlessness and it led me to a deeper spiritual awakening which in turn, led me to an experience of faith in divine love that exceeds my early training and any liturgical experience I have found. My faith is part of an inward journey where I have examined my life; my trials, tribulations, shortcomings and my gifts, capacities and blessings. I have encountered an inner grace that helps me to see that letting go of my ego and creating spaciousness within allows divine light to shine forth. So my faith emerges as my heart’s way of knowing.
Now, as I anticipate the divine light of advent and Christmas, I am in awe of Mary’s fiat – her self-emptying, egoless ‘yes’. I see her humility as a beautiful gift to the world and her act of faith as a young woman holding divine mystery – a manifestation of divine co-creation, and Love. Mary, truly full of grace, follows her heart’s way of knowing, at no small personal cost then, and of course, later. She wholly/holy surrenders to divine will – and that ‘wonderous act of faith’ redeems all.
Formed beneath her beating heart she knows him inside out unlike any other way of knowing. She receives him in all love and compassion.She nurtures and supports him to become his particular self in ways she ‘knows’ deep within her, ways that are sacred and deep.
Did Mary know the quiet confidence that all would be well? Did she listen to her secret heart? Did motherhood deepen her sense of her own miraculous be-ing? I hope that her act of faith brought her these graces and more. Could she have possibly known that all that dwelled within her would blossom into a future graced with love -a love that would redeem the world?
It is Mary’s act of faith that redeems the world, all of us, me – still. That is what faith in advent evokes in me now. Nothing can truly prepare me for this act of Love so profound in its sacred simplicity – its egoless spaciousness – it fully opens the hearts of all who receive it. Mary’s stunning act of faith.