Let Us Say Yes | Reflections from Rome 2022

June 6, 2022
  • ANGELICO,_Fra_Annunciation,_1437-46_(2236990916)

In this first week of the Rome Experience, both the Blessed Mother, through our daily recitation of the Rosary, and St. Therese have made their presence felt in a special way. One of the primary ways Mary made her presence felt was through the numerous images and works of art depicting her. Her image and depictions of her life are found throughout the city of Florence in both churches and monasteries. This is not surprising and should be expected as the Blessed Mother is the Mother of Christ and of the Church. She is also the Mother of our vocations as future priests. While visiting the various churches and seeing the many beautiful pieces of artwork, one of the images that moved me most was the Annunciation by Fra Angelico. The original fresco is kept in its original place at the convent adjoining the Church of St. Mark’s in Florence. The fresco depicts the moment of the Incarnation. It is placed in the Dominican Friary next to St. Mark’s Church at the top of the stairway leading to the friar’s rooms. In the image, the Angel Gabriel with multicolored wings is announcing the news of the Birth of Jesus to Mary, who is clutching her womb. Not knowing the placement of the painting, I was taken aback when it appeared directly in front of me after walking up the stairs. I didn’t know what to think about it at first. I knew it was different from other depictions of the Annunciation. Something that struck me was that the Archangel Gabriel is bowing to the Blessed Mother. I have not seen the Archangel Gabriel bowing to the Blessed Mother as well portrayed as it is in this painting. It emphasizes Mary’s role as the Ark of the New Covenant and her role as the Bearer of Christ. The Angel wouldn’t be bowing to Mary if Christ wasn’t present in her womb. This important detail underscores the importance of Mary’s “yes” to God at that moment. Without her “yes” to God, Christ would never have taken on human flesh in her womb, and salvation wouldn’t have been opened up for us. The importance of Mary’s “yes” to God and our “yes” to God as future priests cannot be underestimated. Through our “yes” to God to become priests, Christ continues his work of salvation through being made present in the form of bread and wine during the Mass. While celebrating the Mass isn’t the only action of the priest, it is the most important. As we reflect, let us not forget the importance of the moment of Mary’s “yes” to God and her humbleness. Let us imitate her “yes” to God in whatever he asks of us. Mary didn’t refuse God’s action in her life and neither should we. Let us always say “yes” and never refuse Him anything.

John Buonocore
Archdiocese of Miami