When we say that someone “rules by fiat,” it’s not usually meant as a compliment. This word comes from the Latin for “let it be done,” and the expression evokes images of a tyrannical ruler dishing out his orders without any regard for proper procedure in enacting laws.
But the most momentous “fiat” ever uttered was spoken by someone who was far from a despot. She was a Queen, for sure, but a most admirable and just one. All generations would call her blessed, yet she was the humblest soul of all. When the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary of Nazareth that she would become the Mother of God, she replied, “Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum”—“Let it be done unto me according to thy word.” Certainly no “fiat” before or since has had such drastic consequences for humanity.
When we refer to Our Lady’s “fiat,” we mean not only the words she spoke, but also the spiritual attitude verbalized by these words. This small phrase encapsulates her spirit of obedience, her profound humility, and her boundless charity. Unlike so many other fiats, she wasn’t enacting her own will but embracing God’s will. She wasn’t exercising her own authority but assenting with a full and joyful heart to her role in God’s glorious plan of salvation.
So when we hear of Our Lady’s “fiat” or repeat it when we pray the Angelus in Latin, let’s not only think of the translation of the word, but everything that Our Lady meant by it.
We can repeat this word throughout the day as a way of uniting ourselves continually to God’s will as Our Lady did. A personalized tumbler, in dark blue with elegant silver script, can remind us every time we use it to say—and mean—“fiat.” Pick yours up here!