Tuesday 18 October 2011

The Annunciation

Here is a little soliloquy that I wrote some years ago-

First Joyful Mystery

Most Holy Mary, dear and blessed Mother of our dear Lord. When first you heard that heralds voice were you deep in your prayers as tradition loves to portray you? Were you pondering in your heart the things of God? Were you, the young handmaid of the Lord, busying yourself with the hundred and one daily tasks and duties that our flesh is heir to? We know for certain that at that time you were betrothed to Blessed Joseph and that you lived such a life as to find favour with the Lord. Beyond that we can only speculate.

Of this we can be certain though, before the Annunciation of St Gabriel you loved God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength. You were such a one as responded to the Grace of God in a way that even before the Word took flesh in your virginal womb meant you could serve as a model and exemplar to those who love the Lord in all generations and seek to do His Most Holy Will. You, dear Mary, are a pioneer on the way of the Lord and our best and brightest guide towards Him in all ages and for all ages. There were things at this Annunciation that you did not fully understand, you were troubled, you pondered, you asked. To love Him and to serve Him it is not needful you showed us that we should fully understand Him, simply that we should wholly love Him and this you did then and still do today Mary Hope of Christians.

You showed us in this brief but world changing dialogue with the Archangel of the Most High that it is not great knowledge that is the key to great love and great service. No, it is humility that is the key and possessing that gift you alone of all the world had the highest Angel in the service of the Highest Power come down to you and salute you. You alone had Almighty God come down into your womb to take on flesh for your Divinely inspired creaturely humility proved a fitting home for the Divine humility that did not think equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied Himself taking human form with your flesh and your blood Most Dear Mary.

And what is humility? Is it the false modesty that so often masquerades under that honourable title? God forbid. No, humility is the height of acute self analysis. When, by the grace of God, we understand ourselves truly to be what we are in relation to our Creator and to our neighbour then we are necessarily humble. And the more perfectly we understand ourselves then the more perfectly humble we shall be. It is a sign of your great wisdom, dear Lady, that you were so perfectly humble and by your prayers may we be brought to similar self-knowledge. God knows we greatly stand in need of it

Was it, perhaps, because of your humility that you were troubled by the angels greeting? Did you consider yourself all unworthy to stand high in God's favour? Surely, though all these thoughts would have been swiftly driven from your heart and mind by that stunning promise made to you by Gabriel. A Son! And what a Son, one who would reign on the throne of David forever. And you, Mary, to be the Mother of the Messiah, the highest dream and hope of the maidens of God's chosen people for generations.

The painting is The Annunciation by Dieric Bouts

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