Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A perfectly ordinary day

What makes March 25th a special day? Nothing. A little over two thousand years ago, on a day very much like today, ordinary, sleepy (or stressful... insert your own adjective here) and unassuming, something inconceivable happened.

An angel, not just any angel, mind you, an archangel — one of those who perpetually contemplate the face of God — was sent to a humble teenage girl, a teenage girl who had consecrated herself to remaining virgin, to ask her, if she would be the Mother of God.

This mystery in the God's plan of salvation has been the subject of many writings of the Church Fathers and theologians and saints alike. I am not going to pretend that what I write here will hold candle against any of their simplest quotes, but I would like to share this image (below) that I found of the Annunciation.

This is a painting set in the modern times, in a modern suburbia, and yet it captures the "ordinariness" juxtaposed with the loftiness of Mary's vocation. Many paintings of the Annunciation reveal the depth of the mystery beheld by their painters, of this divine logic. Imagine Mary as a young girl, going about her daily household tasks, or studying, or working, like what any of us are doing today. And then an archangel asked for her permission—we can imagine all of the inhabitants of Heaven holding their breath at this moment—for the Son of God to take flesh, to be amongst His people.

This "plan" of God to enter into time, into the lives of His people in carne, is nothing short of genius. Like told in the story of the Lord of the Rings, it was told that the Enemy could not conceive that the weak race of Man may seek to destroy the One Ring instead of wielding it for their own gain. Who'd have thought the Son of God would take on human nature and lay down his life to redeem a race of Lost Men?

The story did not end here. It did not end when Mary said yes. It did not end when the Savior was born. It did not end when He died and resurrected either. It is still happening in our days. Our perfectly ordinary days, like today. Each day the Lord is waiting to hear our assent to His will, and to gift us His graces. And each day we are invited to ponder anew and repeat, with Mary, fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.

1 comment:

The Rev. Canon Francis(co) C. Zanger+ said...

Dear Antonia,
Three thank yous, a question, and a request...
First, the thank yous: I have two of your 'widgets', the Rosary Widget (which I actually don't use that often, preferring the actual beads), and I also have your Aspirations Widget. The third thank you is for your short blog on the Annunciation, and the painting. Beautifully written, and I appreciate the encouragement to pray daily the Angelus (although you didn't mention it by name).

MyThe question: who is the artist who did the Annunciation painting?

And finally the request: If you ever update your Aspirations Widget, could you include the name of the author of the quotations? Some of them are familiar, but I just can't place them, while with others I'd like to read more of their writings. [I haven't seen St. Julian of Norwich yet ('All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well...'), but I limit myself to one a day.

I'm an Anglo-Catholic priest from the US, physically disabled and no longer able to serve even half-time, but am volunteering as a Mass priest in Portugal, where there is a clergy shortage (my Portuguese is good enough to celebrate and preach).

A thought about your posts on the Annunciation and on that of March 18th, on using aborted babies as organ donors. I have for the past four or five years preached that March 25th is misnamed in the Church Calendar-- it is most importantly the actual Feast of the Incarnation. When we refer to Christmas as the Incarnation, we are strongly implying that "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" at the moment of His human birth. That not only not true, but dangerous.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us first as a zygote and then as an embryo-- the Creator of the entire universe allowed Himself to become just a few tiny cells within that universe, and to gestate and grow within the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to be born, fully human and yet fully God.

If we call the Feast of the Nativity the "Incarnation" (which you did not, of course), then there is no reason not to allow abortion-- if Jesus became human only after His birth, then, by definition, embryos are not human.

The Nativity remains important-- it is when the Incarnation was announced to the Jews, via the shepherds, just as the Epiphany is important because it commemorates the Incarnation being proclaimed to the world at large, via the Magi/"three kings".

But March 25th, when that young girl, frightened by the Archangel, frightened by the enormity of what was being asked of her, still said "yes", still said fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum... that is the true Feast of the Incarnation. Et Verbum caro factum est, et habitávit in nobis!

Incidentally, and providentially for one who is living in Portugal, the "Word Verification" to be typed in is "fatami", close enough to Fatima to be more than coincidence!

May God grant you a blessed Holy Week, and a Joyous Easter!,
Fr. Francis Z+