‘Fiat” applies to all followers of Jesus
By Lisa Coyne
Let us consider the meaning and impact of the word fiat, which means “let it be done.”
We tend to associate the word with our Blessed Mother. For her, it meant giving birth to the Word Incarnate. She did more than simply say “yes” to God’s request. By becoming Jesus’ mother, she also entered into his suffering, death, and resurrection.
Fiat means accepting the will of God – all of it, which Mary did with grace. But fiat is not limited to Mary.
For Joseph, fiat meant taking Mary as his wife, knowing she was pregnant with a child that was not his – at least, not biologically. It meant accepting his role as Jesus’ earthly father. I imagine Joseph felt unsure – even unworthy – of what he was being called to do. Thankfully, God “qualifies the called.” Joseph acted in fiat out of love for God and Mary.
To truly appreciate their fiats, we have to enter into a relationship with Mary and Joseph. We can learn from their example, but only by entering into the experience with them. This is done through study, prayer, and contemplation.
This year’s stewardship theme focuses on Mary’s fiat, and Bishop Carl A. Kemme has declared this the Year of St. Joseph. This means that this year we have a perfect opportunity to build a relationship with both members of this Holy Couple, a relationship that will draw us that much closer to our Lord!
As you form a relationship with the Holy Family, reflect on your own opportunities for fiat. In what ways has God asked you to cooperate with His plans? Does his will conflict with your own? What emotion does that create in your heart? Fear? Uncertainty?
In John 15:16, Jesus says, “I chose you from the world, to go and bear fruit that will last…” It is okay to feel uncertain. You are in good company – most of the biblical superstars experienced that! But in the end, remember: you have been chosen.
Like Mary and Joseph, you were created for a purpose, but that purpose will not be forced upon you. God awaits your fiat. Like Mary and Joseph, you are being called to act in faith and humility. Like Mary and Joseph, you will find that God is calling you into an intimate relationship that begins with your fiat. Like Mary and Joseph, your fiat must be born out of trust and love.
Other people find it inspiring to hear about success stories like Mary and Joseph’s. When you act in fiat, you should also share the good news of how God has acted through you. Reflect on how your surrender of will drew you into a relationship with God. How did he qualify you? Be prepared to tell your story! Use it to help others grow in faith and relationship with the Lord.
As an example, let me share one moment that required me to respond fiat. A little over 10 years ago, I was seeking a change in my career. I very distinctly heard God tell me to apply for a teaching job in the Wichita diocese. My response? Fear and uncertainty. I did not go to Catholic schools when I was young. I did not know my faith well. I was a “dutiful” member of my parish but was fairly ignorant about the faith I professed. In short, I felt unqualified.
In May 2021, I will complete my 11th year of teaching middle school students at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. In those years, I have fallen in love with my faith, and with Jesus and his beautiful mother. (I am working on forming a real relationship with Joseph this year!) I have grown tremendously as a disciple and as a catechist. God has provided an environment where I can flourish as a teacher and as a Catholic.
Several years ago, God also paved a path for me to earn a theology degree at Newman University. He equipped me with the formation I was so desperately seeking! It is clear to me today that I am exactly where he wants me to be. But I can assure you that 10 years ago, this is not who or where I thought I would be.
Every day, God gives us opportunities to say “let it be done.” One fiat leads to another – and another. I encourage you to reflect on your own experiences. Let God reveal the story he has written in your life, and then be prepared to share that story as God needs you to!
Coyne is a member of Church of the Holy Spirit in Goddard