“From Mary we learn to surrender to God’s will in all things. From Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary we learn to love Christ her Son and the Son of God.” St. John Paul II
I was at mass on the Feast of the Annunciation and the importance of the day in the history of Christianity resonated with me. A non-Catholic friend came with me to mass, and it was curious to see a new face at Church. Recently, I returned to a charitable work that I had not been to for quite some time. I was glad to go back with my group. They were happy and I was too. I hesitated at first and then I said ‘yes.’ Sometimes saying yes to something is very difficult. It might be easier to simply say no but our Lord has other plans. Like Mary’s yes, we need to say yes to opportunities that present themselves to us. There really is a reason for everything.
“I am not capable of doing big things, but I want to do everything, even the smallest things, for the greater glory of God.” St. Domenic Savio
The Feast of the Annunciation also was the feast of a few other curious saints. It is also the memorial of St. Dismas. He was the good thief crucified with Christ, yet he repented and asked for forgiveness. An old legend about Dismas and the ‘bad thief’ recounts a story that the two were among a group of bandits that tried to rob the Holy Family enroute to Egypt while they were escaping Herod. It was apparently Dismas who convinced his group not to rob them and to leave them alone since he saw something different. Whether this legend is true is not so important because Dismas asked for forgiveness at the end, and it was granted. Also, Blessed Emilian Kovtch is remembered today. A married Greek Catholic priest in the Ukraine, he served in parishes in Ukraine in a town with many Jewish people. Once the Nazis attempted to round them up for death, he tried to baptize as many as possible to list them as Christians to save their lives. He was arrested and sent to a concentration camp in Poland. Before he was sent away, he was told to stop his work. He refused. Once he arrived at the camp, he ministered to the prisoners, realizing they had very little spiritual help in such a desperate situation. He wrote his children before he died.
“With the exception of Heaven, this is the only place I wish to be. Here we are all the same: Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, Russians. I am the only priest. When I celebrate the Liturgy, they pray for all, each one in his own language. Doesn’t’ God understand all languages?” Father Kovtch.
“Yesterday, fifty prisoners were executed. If I wasn’t here, who would help them endure a moment like that? What more could I ask the Lord? Don’t worry about me. Rejoice with me!”, Father Kovtch in another letter to his children.
Such courage. I am in awe of Mary’s yes. Father Luigi Giussani of Communion and Liberation spoke often of Mary’s yes, and he often asked us to recite the Angelus. Her yes is our yes. When I visit the Carmelite Nuns, I enjoy hearing about someone who is preparing to enter. Another yes. Saint after saint throughout the history of the Church had to say yes and many of them were martyred. It is so remarkable that they had this level of faith. We can look at them as great examples and we need to be constantly reminded that this leap of faith is possible. But we must trust in the Lord. Are we ready to say, ‘here I am Lord?’ Have we come to do His will?
“Let Gabriel’s word be held in your mind for nothing is impossible to this glorious majesty, who humbled Himself for us and was born of our humanity.” St. Ephrem