FREIBURG, Germany (Catholic Online) - Pope Benedict XVI's visit to his native Germany ended after his praying of the Angelus with the faithful gathered at the Frieburg airport. In his closing reflections he called those gathered, along with the faithful throughout the world, to join their yes to the "Yes" of Mary and learn her way of following Jesus Christ:

"Dear Sisters and Brothers! At the end of this solemn celebration of holy Mass we now pray the Angelus together. This prayer constantly reminds us of the historical beginnings of our salvation. The Archangel Gabriel presents God's plan of salvation to the Virgin Mary, by which she was to become the Mother of the Redeemer. Mary was fearful, but the angel of the Lord spoke a word of comfort to her: "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God." So Mary is able to respond with her great "yes".

"This "yes", by which she accepts to become the handmaid of the Lord, is the trusting "yes" to God's plan, to our salvation. And she finally addresses her "yes" to us all, whom she received as her children entrusted to her at the foot of the Cross (cf. Jn19:27). She never withdraws this promise. And so she is called happy, or rather blessed, for believing that what was promised her by the Lord would be fulfilled (cf. Lk 1:45).

"As we pray this Angelus, we may join Mary in her "yes", we may adhere trustingly to the beauty of God's plan and to the providence that he has assigned to us in his grace. Then God's love will also, as it were, take flesh in our lives, becoming ever more tangible. In all our cares we need have no fear. God is good. At the same time we know that we are sustained by the fellowship of the many believers who are now praying the Angelus with us throughout the world, via radio and television."

The Holy Father's reflection reminds us of the importance of our own response to God's invitations of love. The Annunciation reveals the meaning of the Christian vocation. The Virgin of Nazareth teaches us how to live our real lives in a real world, by saying Yes to the One who created the world and is recreating it through His Son. When the Angel of the Lord appeared, bearing the message and calling her to a special mission, she said "YES."  We must say "Yes" as well and believe that "nothing is impossible with God."  Let's consider her response to the message: "I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be to me according to your Word."  It is in these words that we discover the vocation of every Christian.

Among the multitude of profound reflections in the writings of the early Church Fathers on Mary, the Mother of God, we find these words of the Cappadocian Father, Gregory of Nyssa: "What came about in bodily form in Mary, the fullness of the godhead shining through Christ in the Blessed Virgin, takes place in a similar way in every soul that has been made pure. The Lord does not come in bodily form, for ´we no longer know Christ according to the flesh´, but He dwells in us spiritually and the Father takes up His abode with Him, the Gospel tells us. In this way the child Jesus is born in each of us."

When Mary spoke that "Yes" human history was forever changed. They came from a deep spiritual reservoir within the heart of a young Jewish girl who was in love with the God of her fathers - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Mary´s "Yes" is called the Fiat:  in Latin, "Let it be done." Mary´s Fiat was spoken from her heart. In a Biblical context, "heart" is a word that means much more than the fleshy organ at the center of our chest cavity. It refers to our center, the core of each of us, the place where our deepest identity is rooted, and from which our fundamental choices about life are made. Mary´s words poured forth from a humble heart, surrendered to the Lord and perfectly free.

She was not full of herself, not self-protective, not cynical, she was emptied, in order to be filled. She was therefore able to completely surrender herself in love, to Love. Her initial assent to the Angel Gabriel´s announcement reveals the meaning of another Biblical word, "holy". Holiness is not about looking pious.  It is about being selfless. Mary shows us the way to become holy, too.

In the original languages, the words in Holy Scripture which are translated into the English word "holy" mean set apart or consecrated, entirely dedicated to God´s service, given over to God and His worship.  If we want to be holy, we need to explore the meaning of these words and make them our own. We are also called to be set apart for the living God. We are to make a place for Him within ourselves and within the world. We are to bear His message through a lifestyle that radiates His love.

It is by being set apart and consecrated that our own personal histories can be transformed.  This happens through conversion, or "metanoia", which, in Greek, means

"to change." Our hope for change, for becoming holy, is to open our lives to the One who is the source of all goodness and holiness, Jesus Christ. We are called to respond to His invitation, to say "Yes" to a relationship with Him.

This is what Mary´s Fiat is all about. In saying Yes to God, as Mary did, we are able to discover the path to conversion, to holiness, to authentic spirituality. Our call to embrace the Fiat and to make it our own is not a formula for easy spiritual growth, nor is it the first in a series of steps that lead to solving the problems of life. The spiritual life is a path, a Way, and it involves a continuing, ongoing walk with the Lord.

He has invited each of us into an intimate, personal, exchange of love. This kind of intimacy with a living, loving God is the interior meaning of Mary´s Fiat and her way of life. When we embrace Mary´s Fiat and make it our own, we allow the Love that Mary bore in her body to be incarnated in and through us, too.

Each of us can say "Yes" to God, right now, wherever we are. Each of us can respond with our entire being, with a Fiat of surrendered love. When we do so, our positive response marks the beginning of a participation in the very life of the God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  We become sons and daughters of the Most High and enter into the life of the living God.  In Him we find our deepest identity, our real selves, through our participation in the One who made us, who redeems us, and who transforms us by His continual grace.

Conversion happens when we say Fiat with our words and our deeds. It introduces to us a new and dynamic way of living with God, and in God. As we lose ourselves in Him, we find ourselves again, made new and completed.  This holy exchange-our life for His-is the essence of the Christian vocation. It is not about power but powerlessness. It is not about increase but decrease. It is not about becoming greater but about becoming smaller. In short, true spirituality is about surrender.

Mary teaches us to stay afloat in the ocean of life, with all of its undertows. Mary´s way is to become an ark within, where the same God who became incarnate within her takes up His residence in us. He comes to dwell in all men and women who say "Yes" to Him. Mary invites us to participate in the ongoing incarnation of God´s Love, for the sake of world.

It is an invitation to live redemptively. The ongoing re-creative and redemptive work of God´s love continues through us as we learn how to become arks, or dwelling places, through which Incarnate Love comes alive for all those around us. We enter into Christ´s Incarnation as we respond the same way Mary did: "Behold the servant of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to Thy word."

Mary, in her selflessness, was open to the angel´s visit. She recognized who was speaking. She listened, received and responded. In so doing, she shows us the way to respond to the Lord's call in our own lives. God initiates a relationship and we respond in surrender to Him. This dynamic, this heavenly road, leads to a dialogue, a conversation, a way of life. By saying "Yes" through our own Fiat, we are set apart. Mary shows us the way.

Catholic Online will soon launch a virtual pilgrimage site dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God. There is a reason why Christians throughout the ages have fulfilled that prophecy and called her blessed. She is a special gift to all of us and shows us how to follow her Son and find the fullness of life. Our Mary, Mother of God pilgrimage site will be one more response to the continued call of the Holy Spirit, working in and through the Church, to imitate the Mother of the Lord and be converted to Jesus Christ.