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JOY — Just One Yes

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Have you ever wondered what one “yes” could do? When the Archangel Gabriel announced to our Blessed Mother, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women,” and then proceeded to tell her she had been chosen to be the mother of the divine Savior, she replied, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your Word.” Simply stated, Mary said, “Yes.”  What if she had said, “No,” to God? We would be without a Savior, true God who became true man, who perfectly revealed God’s truth and love to us, who suffered, died and rose for our salvation.  We would remain in darkness, and the gates of heaven would remain closed. Mary’s one “yes” made all the difference in the world, and personally for each one of us.

This Advent, commit to saying “Just One Yes.” Advent is a time to not only remember the first coming of our Savior born Christmas Day, but also a time to prepare once again for his coming into our lives anew. Moreover, we see that so many people need to be awakened to the presence of Christ and accept him as their savior, especially people who are trapped in sinful lifestyles, who have abandoned the faith, who are ignorant of truth, and who are starving for love. Therefore, like our Blessed Mother, we must also do our part to ignite a “yes” in the lives of others. Through our “yes,” we can storm heaven to pour forth abundant graces not only to embolden ourselves as better disciples, but also to crack and change the most hardened of hearts to say “yes” to Jesus.

Our “yes” can take many forms: Intentional acts of prayer, service and sacrifice, whether big or small, will draw each of us individually closer to the Lord, and can also transform our families, communities and even the world. Such acts — one a day — include praying the rosary, attending daily Mass, making a Holy Hour, performing a charitable work, reading the Gospels for 15 minutes, or fasting. One “yes” offered for a particular intention, especially someone who has strayed from the faith, may make the greatest difference in the life of another, our world and ourselves.

We must never underestimate the power of one “yes.” For example, in September 1946, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, then a member of the Sisters of Loreto and a teacher, was on a 400-mile train ride to a convent in Darjeeling for retreat when she experienced a mystical encounter with Christ. “I heard the call to give up all and follow Him into the slums — to serve Him in the poorest of the poor,” she said. “I knew it was His will and that I had to follow Him. There was no doubt that it was going to be His work” (“Come be My Light,” 40). Mother Teresa said, “Yes,” and that one “yes” changed the world.

Or, Oct. 16, 1978, during the conclave to elect a new pope after the death of Pope John Paul I, the balloting seemed to be favoring the young Cardinal Karol Wojtyla from Krakow, Poland. Troubled by the turn of events, Wojtyla turned to his mentor, the primate cardinal of Warsaw, Stephen Wyszynski. The wise Wyszynski reminded Wojtyla of the story of St. Peter who is leaving Rome in “Quo Vadis,” and he said, “Accept it.”

With the evening vote concluded, Cardinal Jean Villot asked Wojtyla, “Do you accept?”  He replied, “In the obedience of faith before Christ my Lord, abandoning myself to the Mother of Christ and Church, and conscious of the great difficulties, I accept” (“Witness to Hope,” 254). Karol Wojyla — St. John Paul II — said, “Yes,” and that one “yes” changed the world.

Consider then, what a collective “yes” can do: In 1571, when the Ottoman Empire threatened to take control of the Mediterranean and prepare for an invasion of Christian Europe, Pope Pius V asked the faithful to pray one rosary a day as the Christian naval fleet prepared for battle. Although outnumbered three to one, the Christians prevailed Oct. 7, the feast of the Holy Rosary, at the Battle of Lepanto. In 1683, when the Ottoman Empire began their march again to wage jihad against Western Europe and were at the Gates of Vienna, Pope Innocent IX again asked the faithful to pray one rosary a day for the success of the Christian army; Sept. 11, although outnumbered three to one, King Jan Sobieski of Poland and his army repelled the Ottoman forces.

When our Blessed Mother appeared to the children of Fatima in 1917, she told them to tell everyone to pray the rosary daily for the conversion of Russia; for years we prayed the rosary, and Jan. 1, 1992, the Soviet Union — the Evil Empire — officially dissolved. The power of one individual “yes” joined to and collected with many others will change individual hearts and the world.

Take this spiritual challenge and join your brothers and sisters throughout the Diocese of Arlington in saying one “yes” this Advent. The greatest benefit is that we will find real joy this Christmas by saying Just One Yes. Our Blessed Mother said to St. Elizabeth, “My soul magnifies the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Our “yes” too will magnify the Lord, and we will know his joy this Christmas.

Fr. Saunders is pastor of Our Lady of Hope Church in Potomac Falls and episcopal vicar for faith formation and director of the Office of Catechetics.

Find out more

To share your “yes,” go to ArlingtonDiocese.org/JustOneYes.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019