Inspired by St Bernard of Clairvaux’s Homily on Our Lady’s Fiat.
Homily 4, 8-9: Opera omnia, Edit. Cisterc. 4 , 53-54
What sigh or song or sob flew out, unleashed
From angel lips, as Spirit’s fathering Word?
What innocence in girl and angel stirred,
As each revered the grace that streamed from each?
What silence took the girl, stunned by his tale –
What beauty, unimagined, flamed and burned?
What wind chimes, these, by Spirit’s breath were turned
To sounds so far from sense that senses failed?
But Gabriel stands silent till her voice
Shall spill the sound that slowly fills her soul,
Shall soar into the void as spheres unroll.
But first, the listening night awaits her choice.
Now Adam weeps. O Mary, pity grief,
And Abraham’s sore willingness recall;
See Isaac kneel, with priests and prophets all –
O, speak the word, conceive the world’s relief.
We wait. We wait. Hasten, thou Blessed One.
Believe! Receive the Seed of God – fear not.
At last, so small, so great her word: “Fiat.”
“His will be done, be done, be done, be done.”
Johanna Caton, O.S.B., is a Benedictine nun from Minster Abbey in Kent, England. Born in Virginia, she lived in the United States until adulthood, when her monastic vocation took her to England. She writes poetry as a means of understanding the work of God in her life, whose purposes and presence can be elusive until viewed through the more accommodating lens of art and poetry. Her poetry has appeared, or will appear in Green Hills Literary Lantern, Time of Singing Christian Poetry Journal, The Christian Century, and other venues. She is a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee.