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Nurturing Faith on Campus: Embracing Mary's Fiat for Campus Ministry

Patti Stenson, MS, LPC
Written By Patti Stenson, MS, LPC
On Mar, 27 2024
13 minute read

“‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:38

 

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The Annunciation recalls the day the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and revealed God’s will for her life: she would become the Mother of the Son of God. Mary’s fiat (translated in Latin to “let it be done”) had seriously drastic consequences for humanity! 

At that moment, “Word became Flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

God enlisted the help of a woman for His entrance into the world to save humanity, and Mary used her humility and obedience to become a herald for Salvation. GOALS.


The angel Gabriel's message to Mary conveys divine love, trust, and cooperation with God's plan. In our daily interactions with the students in our ministries, we can draw inspiration from Mary's example, cultivating a spirit of openness to God's call and a willingness to embrace His will for our lives.


College campus life often presents many challenges to our students. Decisions that carry a lot of weight, friendships, and relationships that bring heartache and disappointment, the pressure of academic goals and other milestones — college students are in a time of their lives where they’re asking the big existential questions like, “What do I do with my life?” and “Where do I fit in the world?”


Mary shows us how we can encourage our students to embrace a heart posture of obedience and humility.  The Feast of the Annunciation is a gentle reminder that the presence of the Holy Spirit is always in our midst. Just as Mary's "yes" changed the course of history, our own openness to God's call can transform the lives of all those we encounter in our ministry.

 

The Exchange Between Mary and Gabriel

 

The exchange between Mary and the angel Gabriel unfolds in five key moments in Luke 1: 28-38:

 

The Annunciation by Simon Bening (16th Century) - Public Domain Catholic Painting

 

A Peaceful Greeting

Angel Gabriel greets Mary with the words, "Hail, favored one," offering a message of peace and joy despite the astonishing news. “Hail” (from the Greek word “chaire,” meaning “rejoice”) was a greeting used to wish someone well.

The angel Gabriel reveals to us God's loving nature to offer peace to our anxious hearts when we receive news that is difficult to understand or accept. Campus ministers wear many hats, with counselor being worn often. When students come to us carrying the weight of the world, we can point them to Mary. The Annunciation reminds us that even in our discomfort, confusion, and suffering, the Lord offers us His peace, clarity, and healing love. 

 

Assurance

“Do not be afraid.” Again, the angel Gabriel recognizes that the news he shares could be frightening or alarming, and he takes time to reassure Mary. 

How many times in Scripture does the Lord inspire us to have no fear? God cares for, loves, and protects us. When He invites us to be more with Him, we never have to worry. We can have confidence that His will is ALWAYS good.

 

Doubt

In all her humility, Mary asks, “How?” Mary is not asking out of doubt but out of hope. Her response demonstrates a promising and trusting approach to a conversation with God.

Prompt your students: When a situation seems impossible, have you ever asked God, “How?” Through this exchange with Mary, He shows us that He wants to and will hold space for our questions when our heart posture is one of humility and trust. Doubting is not sinful when it leads us to greater faith. 

 

The Power of the Holy Spirit

“...the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” The explanation from the angel Gabriel that the Holy Spirit will "overshadow" Mary is significant because it symbolizes God's assurance that He will show up in a powerful way, even if it is beyond our comprehension.

Help students trace the faithful hand of the Lord throughout their lives. Ask them to remember a time when God showed up BIG and BOLD in a way that they knew it had to be Him! The Holy Spirit can and will do more than we could ever imagine. We can trust that God will show up, and we won’t want to miss it!

 

Another Peaceful Greeting

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”  As the angel Gabriel departs, Mary responds with the same greeting of peace and joy that he offered her at the beginning of this exchange. “Behold” (from the Old English word, “bihaldan,” meaning bi ‘thoroughly’ + haldan ‘to hold’) for the Christian means to look with spiritual eyes, to remain under the gaze of the Lord. This sets the stage for the Incarnation after Mary's resounding "yes."

Mary’s “yes” is perhaps the ultimate act of surrender to God’s will! Her response shows us that she is at peace with how the Lord will use her life for the ultimate glory of His Kingdom. 

Here are four steps to share with your students on how to practice surrender:

  1. Start and end the day with prayer (even better - pray a rosary to invoke the intercession of our Blessed Mother, the greatest example of trusting God’s will!)
  2. Study our faith. Start with your campus ministry groups.
  3. Passionately pursue the Eucharist! Welcome Jesus and all the grace He offers into your heart.
  4. Relentlessly seek JOY! All joy is Christ-inspired, not from this world. Your exam scores, job opportunities, social groups, and more can’t bring you the joy Jesus can.

 

“Mary’s Fiat” On Display in Campus Ministry

Discernment

As campus ministers and chaplains, encourage and guide your students in discerning their unique callings. The Feast of the Annunciation is a beautiful opportunity for students to reflect on their own "yes" to God's plan for their lives.

 

Marian Devotion

Foster Marian devotion on campuses, organizing ministry events that honor the Blessed Virgin Mary. Encourage students to pray the Angelus every day at noon in commemoration of the Passion (or just on Sundays with the Holy Father). 

Deepen your ministry’s devotion to Mary through a Marian Consecration

 

Service and Outreach

Encourage students to emulate Mary's spirit of service and humility through campus ministry outreach and service events. The Feast of the Annunciation reminds us that our actions, big or small, can significantly impact the Kingdom.

 

Marian Resources

Here are three of our favorite prayers and scripture passages to inspire and nourish your ministry on the Feast of the Annunciation:

In the words of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, "In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips; never suffer it to leave your heart.

May our campus ministries be blessed with the grace and guidance that flow from the Feast of the Annunciation! God awaits our fiat!

 

Ways We Can Help You in Your Ministry

Newman Ministry exists to connect students with a Catholic community on campus so their Faith thrives in college and beyond. Here’s how we ensure high school seniors keep their faith in college and campus ministers are equipped to inspire lifelong disciples:

 

  1. High School Outreach, our flagship program, is a simple-to-implement program that
    connects high school seniors to campus ministries at their college of choice before they
    get to campus. Sign Up Today. >>>

  2. First90 is our coach-led, cohort-based program made for campus ministers to set their ministry up for long-term success. If you’re a campus minister, we equip you to work more effectively and better focus your time and energy on ministering to your students. Learn More Today. >>>

  3. Campus Minister Small Groups provide a space for campus ministers to set and accomplish personal and professional goals alongside other campus ministers with a Newman Coach as the guide. Join a Small Group Today. >>>

 

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