A birthday gift
Veronica O’Brien, founder of the FIAT Association, was for more than 50 years a faithful collaborator with Cardinal Suenens. He wrote about her life in his book The Contingency of God. We can read what happened there 30 years ago on September 7, the eve of September 8 when the Church celebrates the Nativity of Mary.
Here the testimony of Veronica:
“… I was very troubled at the thought that this feast of Mary, Mother of mothers, would not be celebrated in Christian homes, while in the world Mother’s Day was becoming more and more popular. I said to the Lord in my prayer: ‘Jesus, tomorrow is the feast of the Nativity of your Mother. All the world’s children give a gift to their mother for her birthday. You, Jesus, what do you give your mother? ‘ And suddenly, in an inner spiritual flash, I saw a picture of a small rosary and I thought I heard the Lord’s words: ‘This is the birthday present I offer my Mother for it helps me be known to the ends of the earth. Spread it around the world.’ “
When Veronica shared with Cardinal Suenens her spiritual flash event about the FIAT rosary, she also told him that in her soul Mary remained inseparable from the Holy Spirit and that it was necessary to introduce the rosary with a prayer to the Holy Spirit. For her, it was part of the vision. Together they composed the prayer to the Holy Spirit – the FIAT prayer — preceding the rosary recitation. Indeed, this introductory prayer offers us a journey of faith – the path that Father de Montfort called ‘secret’ – to union with Mary, receiving the strength of the Holy Spirit, showing God’s Love in word and deed, always and everywhere. In other words, bringing to the world the Good News of the Gospel.
The FIAT prayer, Cardinal Suenens liked to call the “identity card” of the Christian. It is an identity that has a mission. The FIAT prayer also lends itself well as an introduction to classical rosary with five decades.
The FIAT apostolate itself was born from the experience of spreading the FIAT rosary. It has always been suggested to pray the FIAT rosary with others in order to support and to encourage people in their vocation as baptized, to participate in the mission of the Church. It is a journey of faith with Mary. With ease Mary helps us grow in faith. These are not new features that we share here. Forty years before Vatican II, the Legion of Mary, a movement that has the same approach was born: to gather people around Mary, praying to the Holy Spirit, to actively participate in the proclamation of the Gospel. The Legion of Mary, founded in Ireland in 1921 by Frank Duff, has spread worldwide. This experience with the Legion of Mary strongly influenced the Cardinal Suenens and has contributions during the Second Vatican Council sessions, especially when touching on the participation of the laity in the mission of the Church.
After this Council, the Charismatic Renewal and this openness to the Holy Spirit was emphasized. Cardinal Suenens had strongly supported the Renewal. In fact, simply as a way to live one’s baptism of an adult way. The FIAT logo emphasizes the union of Mary and the Holy Spirit. During these 30 years of the FIAT rosary, we have received numerous inquiries and orders for the FIAT rosary and the explanatory booklet from 120 countries on 5 continents. In many countries small “Cenacle” groups have been born around the FIAT rosary. They are Christians who support each other in their life of faith and prayer.
Many people have experienced the grace that is the FIAT rosary, for themselves, for their families, and for the members of the Cenacle groups. We see the Friends of FIAT participating in the mission of the Proclaiming the Gospel: a participation that brings joy and allows people to grow in faith.
by Cecile and Roger Matthys-Ryckaert