Years ago, my mother-in-law introduced me to the Universal Living Rosary Association of St. Philomena, and I couldn’t resist joining her in signing up for a decade of my own.
I was just sure this would be something that would make a huge impact in my life. And when I received my little card with my assigned decade I was awash in the feeling that I had a message from God himself.
The Annunciation? The Annunciation!
And…I proceeded to keep up with it for exactly half as long as I should have.
To this day I score about 50 percent on a good week with saying my assigned decade, the one I promised I would say. This commitment has, over the years, given me a link to the Annunciation that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. It has made me appreciate the mystery in a way that I wouldn’t have before.
It is no accident that I tend to approach saying Yes in one of two over-the-top ways: I say Yes without thinking and discerning, thus putting myself in a position to back out later or I don’t say Yes because I’m quite sure I can’t do it.
I’ll say Yes to organizing a huge, impossible parish project, but I won’t say Yes to an extra ten minutes of prayer each morning.
Recently, when I took a day “off” and went to a local women’s conference, the bishop’s homily during the morning Mass gave me a whole new way to look at Mary’s Yes during the Annunciation.
“How,” he asked, “Did Mary know it was the voice of God speaking through the angel?”
How often, I wondered to myself as I pondered his question, do I fail to distinguish between the voice of God and the voice of Sarah? How often do I give God “credit” for the desires of my heart, the ones that don’t really benefit anyone, myself included?
When’s the last time I told God Yes?
Could God be asking me to bend down and look my four-year-old in the eye when he talks to me, instead of continuing with whatever else has my attention?
Might that be the voice of God, whispering to me that my seven-year-old would love to help me with the dishes and the laundry?
Is that God, gently guiding me to just hire a babysitter already and go on a date with my husband?
Mary had the benefit of an angel standing in front of her, but maybe that’s because she said Yes to God so much before the Annunciation. She said Yes long before she was asked the question: her life prior to her motherhood must have been quite an example to everyone around her.
God’s voice can’t be heard over mine. He won’t try to yell over me. He’ll just wait patiently for me to calm down.
How did Mary know it was God’s voice, God’s will, God at all? I’m guessing it had to do with a practice already in place, with an embracing of silence and an immersing in God’s word, giving him a way to communicate with her.
She recognized God, because she had already spent a lot of time with him…not just talking to him, but listening.
And so, on this Feast of the Annunciation, my Yes, I pray, will reflect a bit of this lesson I’ve learned, and my time will be spent, at least in fits and starts, in the school of silence, trying to find a glimpse of God.