The First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation

Mary did­n’t plan to be the Moth­er of God. We are giv­en no hint in the Gospels at what she did plan. It may have been an ordi­nary life, full of ordi­nary dreams: hus­band, chil­dren, home — dreams no less mean­ing­ful for being ordinary.

But then a winged Ital­ian shows up one morn­ing, bran­dish­ing a tulip, and tells her that God has a plan for her that she nev­er imag­ined. And she accepts this divine plan. It is not a holy quest that she is offered, or an hero­ic mis­sion. She is asked to play a part, to ful­fil a rôle.

She could freak out; it would be an under­stand­able reac­tion. But she does­n’t. She says, “Yeah, okay.” Her sim­ple, faith-filled Fiat is a match­less mod­el of accep­tance, humbly and earnest­ly embrac­ing a life unlike any­thing she had planned for or even imag­ined pos­si­ble, and trust­ing in God to make it turn out.

I want­ed my call to be as clear as Mary’s was. I wait­ed for years for a defin­i­tive “This-is-what-God-wants-you-to-do-with-your-life” moment that I could respond to with my own Fiat. But that moment nev­er came for me, nor for almost any­one else I know, in the sem­i­nary or out. It is tempt­ing to say, “Well, it just does­n’t work that way,” but I hard­ly think I am qual­i­fied to make such a sweep­ing and het­ero­dox asser­tion. So I will stick with the per­son­al: it has­n’t worked that way for me.

And I am still learn­ing to live with that, to be com­fort­able guid­ing my life by prayer­ful guess­work rather than cer­tain­ty. I expect­ed voca­tion and dis­cern­ment to be mat­ters of cer­tain­ty, and maybe they are, and there will be a burn­ing bush for me just around the next cor­ner. But I don’t think so.

Mary, teach me to let go, to accept the path I have been set upon. Teach me, too, to be open to the sub­tle and qui­et prompt­ings of my soul, for it is there that my annun­ci­a­tion will be found. Help me to accept, and to brave­ly car­ry out, what­ev­er plan God has for me.


  1. Hmmm…Have you ever thought of set­ting your pen to a series of rosary med­i­ta­tions? Read­ing this lat­est post of yours, methinks it could be a good project for you, broth­er o’ mine.

  2. The best way for me to know that I’m on the right path is when things keep going well and I’m sur­prised at how easy things are.

    Does that make any sense?

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