Monday, March 31, 2008

Et verbum caro factum est

Today we celebrate (belatedly) an extraordinary event that all mankind has been waiting for: a Savior that comes and lives amongst us. On the 25th of March, the Church celebrates this Joyful Mystery better known as the Annunciation. This silent but wonderful moment marks the time the Eternal one enters into time — for sure we have prayed for a savior, and Israel its Messiah, but to be 'reduced' to an embryo forming in the womb of a young girl from nowhere... no wonder we bow (or genuflect, even) when we recite the Incarnation in the Creed. So great is God's love for us that shows through this humility of our Lord!

At a glance, the world seems to say that we do not need a Savior. And like Lois Lane wrote, in the movie of Superman Returns, a Pulitzer-winning article on why the world doesn't need a savior, many of us or 'our brothers' have yet to face the fact that we do. Because our nature is fallen, we fail to redeem ourselves despite our best intentions.

It is a great feast day in the Church for many reasons. Just as we fall in awe of the Lord's goodness in this great mystery, this feast is also an occasion to reflect upon the humility of our Lady. It has been said many times that our Lady braved death by stoning if she were to be found pregnant and unmarried.

For those contemplating a Call from the Lord, our Lady is a paragon of a disciple and a shining star in your discernment. Was there euphoria at the annunciation? Perhaps, but I'd dare say there was more trepidation than euphoria for her. Was there complete understanding? Perhaps she understood better than the rest of us, as she is without original sin, her reasoning is not darkened by sins... yet surely she couldn't have anticipated the drama of the birth in a stable in a foreign unknown city, the prophecy of Simeon at the baby's presentation, the flight to Egypt, and lastly, the bitter Passion of her Son and His humiliating death. But none of that seems to matter. No lack of euphoria nor lack of complete understanding of her call prevented her, full of grace she is, to say her Fiat. St Bernard of Clairvaux imagined the entire heaven to be looking on, cheering her though no encouragement was necessary. And the entire heaven, which held their breath, sighed with relief, I imagined, when she said Yes. To bear the plan of God required her to say Yes everyday of her life. Victory of God's plan, one can say, was sealed with her obedience.

Again, to those who are contemplating the Call, temptations that it is perhaps 'better', that one is somehow more 'effective' being married and having a great family and raising many Christian children, sometimes do come. Is it possible to dedicate oneself joyfully and totally to God, and looking at having 'spiritual children' instead? Can one live renouncing earthly love to anticipate the heavenly marriage with the Lamb? The answer is yes, "possumus!" Not because anyone on their own is so strong but because God gives the grace to answer thus. I hear a resounding affirmation in today's Gospel:

“How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you... nothing will be impossible for God.”
--Luke 1:34, 37

Learning from the animals

After a week of solemnity and 40 days of penance behind us, let's celebrate life's little pleasures. These animals teach us how to live 'dangerously' and have plenty of fun!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Gaude et laetare!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!
-- from the Exultet

Pope Benedict with the Easter candle at Vigil Mass 2008
This year, the Alleluias sung during the Easter vigil, has got to be the sweetest, the most beautiful Alleluias I've heard in a long long time! Rejoice and be glad!

Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia;
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia;
Resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia;
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia!
Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia;
Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

Happy Easter to one and all! Rejoice and be glad!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Holy Saturday

"What makes this night different from all the other nights?" -- this question is traditionally asked by the youngest member of a Jewish family during the Passover memorial meal. And for us Catholics too, we entered into the Easter Triduum asking the same question.

For forty days we have mortifed ourselves -- entered the desert, so to speak, and today, is the last day of that desert journey. It is an odd day of the calendar of the Church because today, God is not there in our tabernacles. What is a day without God? Technically of course, God is there. It's just that the second person of the Trinity, who have always been us throughout the year, is dead today.

We accompanied him in His Passion yesterday, today we await his resurrection. It's a strange day. Though we know he will rise on the third day, it doesn't make our loss any less.

In a few hours time, the first Masses of Easter Vigil would have begun. Let us await his resurrection!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Easter Triduum

Have a blessed Easter Triduum!
We're almost there...