As Renewal Ministries travels to the four corners of the world by mission, multiple medias, and local and regional evangelization, we are borne up by your love, prayers, and financial giving—and have been for more than forty years! Your “yes” to the invitation to join us in our mission has had powerful effects and continues to have powerful effects.
Lately, I’ve been very struck by the mysterious power of our “yeses.” When we think of the power of our yes, we first think of the power of Mary’s yes. Saying yes to God’s invitation to her changed the course of world history, allowed the Savior to come, and impacted everyone who ever has or will live. Now, all who say yes to the Holy Spirit’s invitation to believe, repent, and be baptized, become sons and daughters of God and heirs of eternal life, resurrection from the dead, and eternal happiness! The Holy Spirit invites us to believe, repent, and be baptized—and, like Mary, all who say yes to this invitation become sons and daughters of God, as well as heirs of eternal life and happiness!
I also have been thinking that we often don’t realize the significance of saying yes to an invitation. Sometimes we don’t even realize the invitation is from God. We usually have no idea of what will unfold because of our yes—and, unfortunately, what will not unfold when we refuse to say yes.
I think of how, in Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, Lucia writes that she, Jacinta, and Francisco had no idea of what they were saying yes to when Mary invited them to give their lives completely to the Lord: “Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the sufferings he wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?”
As Lucia writes, they enthusiastically responded: “Yes, we are willing!”
Later, she writes that they had no idea what their yes would mean and could hardly imagine all that would follow.
I’m so grateful they said yes.
Closer to home, I recently had a chance to reflect on the significance of our apparently lowly yeses. I can see in my own life that saying yes at various times to the Lord, agreeing to follow Him, leaving graduate school, etc., unfolded in ways I could never have imagined and thankfully has helped many other people.
Just a couple of months ago, my wife, Anne, and I were able to gather all our six children and nineteen grandchildren in one place, and I marveled at what Anne’s yes to me allowed to unfold. I was working in campus ministry at the Catholic student center at Michigan State University and at the national office of the Cursillo Movement. I was wrestling with vocational discernment. Should I remain single? Should I get married? It was agonizing at times. I had developed a friendship with Anne and indeed the thought of marriage to her had more than crossed my mind. Then she went to France to work as a nanny for the summer before her senior year at MSU. As soon as she left, I knew I wanted to marry her. Since this happened during the days of expensive international calls and no cell phones, and since I did not even know how to reach her except through a post office address, I proposed in a letter. Thankfully, she received it! And, thankfully, she wrote back and said YES!
That yes has brought forth so much fruit. We had no idea where that yes would lead us. It’s been quite an adventure, including four years of living in Belgium where two of our children were born, traveling all over the world, writing, speaking, and entertaining thousands of guests over the years—but seeing a picture of all our nineteen grandchildren together really brought it home. Anne’s yes was incredibly significant, and her continued yes even amid the ordinary challenges of life continues to bear immense fruit.
I know the same is true for all of you. Your yeses to the Lord have borne and will bear eternal fruit. Sometimes we catch glimpses of this, like I recently did, and sometimes we can’t see the fruit but continue moving forward in faith. Either way, you can be assured that every yes you have ever given to the Lord—every yes in the midst of great pain, suffering, and disappointment, and every act of hidden love—has released grace into the world that will only be visible in most cases when all is revealed on the last day.
Thank you again for your yeses and for being companions on the journey.
This letter originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ February 2023 newsletter.
I have benefitted from this ministry since it began. My hunger for God has been answered by your ministry. Your clear voice to seek Jesus is still calling me on. God is good.
Thank you Ralph for that wonderful story.
Last summer as the pandemic-fears started to recede, my wife Jane and I gathered my daughter, her husband, her seven children along with their significant others and her and took them to a restaurant to celebrate: One grandson’s high school graduation (with his girlfriend), one boyfriend’s birthday that day (with my granddaughter), one girlfriend’s college graduation as a Physician’s Assistant (with my grandson). As we looked at them all, I remembered all the times and ways that our marriage *could* have been destroyed and the many divine serendipities that rescued each of the people and whole family over the years (and those years were like warfare so often). Jane and I both saw that if we had not made it through together, marriage intact, that much, or most, of this would never have come to be. She was in tears of joy at this point. We are so thankful.