The Annunciation: Mary’s Fiat As Our Model of Humility

Of course you kvetch, you've overstretched! Let Mary show you a better way.

St. Augustine once said, “If you ask me what the essential thing in the religion and discipline of Jesus Christ is, I shall reply: first, humility, second, humility, and third, humility.” Today, society often exposes us to an ideology encouraging prideful actions and behaviors. This thinking considers the proud, selfish, and disobedient to be those who can induce changes or succeed in life. However, salvation history and the lives of the saints show that a prideful lifestyle only results in the downfall of humankind. It is rather the virtue of humility that exalts us in the end.

The Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, describes humility with this statement. “Truly, the virtue of humility consists in this, that one keeps himself within his own limits; he does not stretch himself to what is above him, but he subjects himself to his superior.”[1] While being humble does not mean disregarding the gifts and talents that God has given us, it does mean that to be humble, one must strive not to compare oneself to others but acknowledge that one must use those gifts for the glory of God and not for self-gratification. Indeed, this may sound daunting given our human nature, but we have the Virgin Mary as our guide and inspiration.

Every year on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, The Church reminds us of Mary’s momentous decision through St. Luke’s gospel passages. Her decision was remarkable because she placed her faith and trust in God’s providence. Although she questioned how God’s divine plan would come to be because she had no relations with a man, she ultimately submitted to God’s will. Her decision altered the course of human history and her fiat allowed Jesus to carry out God’s plan to bring forth the salvation of humanity through his crucifixion, death, and resurrection. Mary’s humble fiat is why she is our model for living a life of humility; “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”[2]

In our daily lives, we must respond to God with Mary’s humility, with a sincere, "yes". Even if we doubt whether his plan is good, we must still submit to his will, just like Mary did when she accepted the task of bearing and raising the Son of God. When she said yes to God’s will, she did not know the hardships and sorrows she would endure, but she still humbly accepted God’s plan.

Brothers and sisters, let us implore Mary’s intercession so that we may live with greater humility. Consider these words of St. Teresa of Calcutta in your everyday lives: “Mary, give me your Heart: so beautiful, so pure, so immaculate; your Heart so full of love and humility that I may be able to receive Jesus in the Bread of Life and love Him as you love Him and serve Him in the distressing guise of the poor.”

[1] Aquinas, St. Thomas. On the Truth of the Catholic Faith: Summa Contra Gentiles (Book Four: Salvation)

[2] Luke 1:38 (NABRE)

Br. Peter Augustine Hoang, O.P. | Meet the Brothers in Formation HERE