On this Feast of the Incarnation (a favorite of St. Francis). Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity feature Fr. Edward Looney, a priest of the Diocese of Green Bay and a noted Marian theologian, radio personality, and writer. His latest books include A Rosary Litany, A Heart Like Mary’s: 31 Daily Meditations, and Our Lady of Good Help: Prayer Book for Pilgrims.
The first joyful mystery, the Annunciation, is a rich biblical passage and fruitful for meditation, especially for someone discerning their vocation in life as a priest, sister, brother, or as a husband and wife. Besides reflecting on this event through the rosary, many Catholics do so daily by praying the Angelus.
The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.
And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us.
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray:
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.
Mary had a complicated vocation. Although she was betrothed to Joseph, she had made a vow of virginity. And after the Annunciation she became virgin, wife, and mother. Most certainly, Mary had a plan for her life but through the angelic visitation she allowed God to change that plan as she surrendered to God’s will and placed her trust in Him.
For those discerning their vocation, the first verse of the Angelus, reminds us of God’s calling in our life. That calling manifests itself within our prayer, heart, mind, and soul. While an angel might not tell us what God wants us to do with our life, maybe someone will invite us to consider our vocation. Or we have to listen deep within our heart for God’s direction.
The second verse indicates Mary’s acceptance and resignation to God’s will. In a sense, she says, “God, I want what you want for my life.” With Mary, we re-echo those words, asking God to accomplish his plan in our life.
The final verse draws us into the mystery of the incarnation, that God became man. This is the God made visible whom we wish to serve by our vocations. For women, they will espouse themselves to Christ as his bride. And in our vocation we will be constantly nourished by the flesh of God, offered to us in the Holy Eucharist.
In the final prayer, not only do we ask Mary’s prayers but we ask the Lord to pour out his grace into our hearts. The grace we pray for might be clarity, perseverance, hope, clarity, or any number of things.
Allow Mary to be a companion in your vocational discernment. Pray with her vocation and her response. Read the story of the Annunciation, meditate, and ask Mary’s prayers as you walk this life as Christ’s disciple.