A few years after my divorce, I was blessed enough to join a group of Catholic women who would put on a monthly half-day retreat. Each month there would be a different priest who would give an in-depth reflection, offer confessions, say mass and have adoration. It was a little slice of heaven in the cold state of Connecticut.
I was the only divorcee among all the ladies. They were all very nice, but all married and several of them pregnant. At the December retreat, I suddenly became accutely aware of my disposition as a single, divorced woman. I observed all the married women’s contented smiles as Father spoke about The Blessed Mother being a good wife and watched all the pregnant mothers rub their bellies in agreement.
I certainly felt like a misfit. In the silence of my heart I prayed to Mary and asked, “How do I fit in?” She responded (or maybe it was the Holy Spirit) by giving me a little tour of her life via my thought process.
I thought of her receiving the visit from the angel Gabriel and how, despite the startling nature of it all, she accepted the offer he presented with a humble, “Yes.” Her “fiat.” She did not know what would happen in the future, but because she loved God so much, she wanted to please Him. She had no idea the pain and suffering she would be facing. She had no idea that in the end, she would lose both her husband and her Son.
Mary said yes to the angel and never received a vision from heaven again during her stay here on earth. She had a hard life from that point forward. Joseph almost divorced her and anyone in her position would begin to doubt the plan. Simeon predicted the agony of her suffering when she and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple and she didn’t re-think her position. She didn’t say, “Wait a second, God, I didn’t sign up for this!” when Jesus was being flogged and beaten. She didn’t throw a fit when her innocent Son was taken down from the cross and laid in her arms. And in the years she was alone, she only grew more in her love for God.
I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to your word (Luke 1:38). Those words were like a stick of dynamite whose fuse had just been lit.
At that point, I thought about my own “yes.” When I was baptized as a child, my parents said yes for me, but every time I received a sacrament since then, I was the one saying “yes” to God and His plan for me, especially when I got married. So when all that went awry and I found myself ultimately alone, I realized how much I had in common with Mary – maybe even more than someone who was married.
A Personal Call
For a moment, I looked around at the rest of the ladies and began to dismiss these thoughts I was having. Maybe other people would think I was going overboard or taking it too seriously? But those thoughts quickly faded as my faith, coupled with reason, inspired me to realize what I was being called to now that I was also alone.
God calls each of us individually. It’s very personal. He doesn’t call us in groups. I can’t compare myself to the rest of the world. My call to remain faithful to my “I do” was a personal call that didn’t involve anyone else, not even my ex-husband. He had his own calling and that was between he and God, just as mine was between me and God, not me and my group of Catholic women. I was the one that had to choose to be faithful or not.
When that stick of dynamite finally exploded it set my heart on fire with the understanding that God loved me and was always with me. I wasn’t alone, despite my situation. And then I realized that my “yes” to God should always mean yes, even when I feel disconnected, frustrated and lonely. Be it done unto me according to your word, Lord.
He became the reason for my joy and Mary became my model for life. When challenges arise, I go straight to her and contemplate how beautiful, humble, and full of love she was and I know just what to do. I encourage you to spend some time getting to know Mary during this Advent season and let her show you how to find the joy you are searching for and inspire you to always say “yes” to God.