Friday, March 25, 2011

The Annunciation

Today, is the Solemnity of the Annunciation. It is nine months to the day before Christmas. If retailers had any clue about this feast's significance, I am quite certain we would be hearing Christmas carols on the radio and the window displays would be up already!!

Last year, Deacon Greg shared this depiction of The Visitation, painted by John Collier. I think the expression on "Mary's" face is priceless. You can almost hear her say, "Ummm....excuse me?!?!"
I am taking time this lent to read some of my favorite Jesuit authors. This morning, as providence would have it, I came across the following poem by Denise Levertov in A Friendship Like No Other by William Barry, S.J.

We know the scene: the room, variously furnished,
almost always a lectern, a book; always
the tall lily.
        Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,
the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering,
whom she acknowledges, a guest.

But we are told of meek obedience. No one
        The engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent.
                       God waited.

She was free
to accept or to refuse, choice
integral to humanness.

Aren't there annunciations
of one sort or another
in most lives?
             Some unwillingly
undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride,
           More often
those moments
       when roads of light and storm
       open from darkness in a man or woman,
are turned away from
in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair
and with relief.
Ordinary lives continue.
                  God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.

She had been a child who played, ate, slept
like any other child—but unlike others,
wept only for pity, laughed
in joy not triumph.
Compassion and intelligence
fused in her, indivisible.

Called to a destiny more momentous
than any in all of Time,
she did not quail,
                only asked
a simple, 'How can this be?'
and gravely, courteously,
took to heart the angel's reply,
perceiving instantly
the astounding ministry she was offered:

to bear in her womb
Infinite weight and lightness; to carry
in hidden, finite inwardness,
nine months of Eternity; to contain
in slender vase of being,
the sum of power—
in narrow flesh,
the sum of light.
         Then bring to birth,
push out into air, a Man-child
needing, like any other,
milk and love—

but who was God. 

And don't forget Canon 1251:

"Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday."

Have a blessed weekend!!

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