25 March 2006

Truly Full of Grace Was She

Having come in, and having come for her, the angel spoke not a promise, not a hope, but a sure and certain proclamation. “The Lord is with you,” he declared; which means, “The Lord is within you. You now bear Him who will bear the sin of the world. So rejoice and be glad. For Grace Himself has filled you, and you are Grace’s mother. And for this reason, blessed are you among women.”

As unheard of as this greeting was in human custom, so fitting was it to the dignity of blessed Mary. And indeed, truly full of grace was she, upon whom it was conferred by divine favor that, first among women, she should offer God the most glorious gift of her virginity. Hence she who strove to imitate the life of an angel was rightfully worthy to enjoy the experience of seeing and speaking with an angel. Truly full of grace was she to whom it was granted to give birth to Jesus Christ, the very one through whom grace and truth came. And so the Lord was truly with her whom He first raised up from earthly to heavenly desires, in an unheard of love of chastity, and afterwards sanctified, by means of His human nature, with all the fullness of His divinity. Truly blessed among women was she who without precedent in the womanly state rejoiced in having the honor of [mother]hood along with the beauty of virginity, inasmuch as it was fitting that a virgin mother bring forth God the Son. (St Bede the Venerable)

Yet for all her faith and faithfulness, for all her piety and strength, even this most holy and blessed and glorious woman trembled at the angelic message and pondered fearfully the meaning of his words. But do not suppose that she trembled because she was unwilling; or because she hesitated. Suppose, instead, that this most blessed virgin trembled because of her humility; because she did not consider herself deserving of such high honor; because she never supposed herself to be worthy of being—and being called—the Mother of God. So she trembles not for lack of faith, but in true faith. She trembles not because she doubts, but because she truly believes what the angel has said. And so she trembles not because she hesitates, but because she has consented.

Yet Grace, who has been poured into her by the Holy Spirit, now pours forth once again from the angelic mouth. “Do not be afraid,” says the Father in the voice of the angel. “Do not be afraid. And do not fear that you are unworthy, or have not the strength, or will falter. Do not be afraid, O blessed Mother of God. For Grace Himself has sought you out, and has deigned to be born of you and so to issue forth from you the redemption, salvation, sanctification and righteousness that He comes to give. So do not be afraid, and do not tremble. For of all creation, of all women ever born of men, you have been found worthy and deserving. You have found favor with God. And for this reason, the Son of the Father shall be born of you. For behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

From today's sermon at Zion Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Detroit

10 comments:

cheryl said...

Something that I've always wondered is why this feast day is not celebrated closer to Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Because Jesus was conceived 9 months before he was born...

fr john w fenton said...

The anonymous commenter is correct. The Feast of the Annunciation celebrates the Immaculate Conception of Our Lord. Hence it is precisely nine months before ChristMass.

That it always falls during Lent is no coincidence. Centuries ago, someone postulated that Christ, being perfect, died the day He was conceived.

William Tighe said...

Cheryl,

Perhaps my article in the December 2003 issue of Touchstone will help:

http://touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=16-10-012-v

"Calculating Christmas" by William J. Tighe

cheryl said...

William,

I was extremely impressed by your article, I'm going to link to it from my website. I was especially impressed by:

Rather, the pagan festival of the “Birth of the Unconquered Son” instituted by the Roman Emperor Aurelian on 25 December 274, was almost certainly an attempt to create a pagan alternative to a date that was already of some significance to Roman Christians.

I never knew that. I had always assumed just the opposite.

Thanks

cheryl said...

Father,

Isn't there something called the "Virgin's Lent?"

William Tighe said...

Cheryl,

Your own blog (which I have visited once or twice, having found a link to it on the blog "All the Fulllness" of my friend Chris Jones) seems to eschew controversy, but there is quite a (polite) row going on at my favorite blog of all "Pontifications" on "Are the Church Fathers Lutheran?" It may interest you, or it may not -- but if it does, see:

http://catholica.pontifications.net/?p=1519#comments

cheryl said...

Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.

I'm not sure what you mean by, "eschew controversy"? Could you explain?

Thanks.

William Tighe said...

Cheryl,

I meant that my impression of your blog is that you are engaged in working out the consequences of your perception that, while Lutheran doctrine is "Catholic" the polity and (some)practices of all, or most, Lutheran churches are not -- not opening a forum to discuss whether or to what extent your perception is true and, if it is, what consequences follow from it. I meant no more or no less than that observation.

cheryl said...

Well, okay, but that would be a wrong perception. In fact, most of what I have discussed thus far has not been particularly lutheran, such as Mary (mediatrix ect), invocation of the saints, bible study ect. While it is my contention that the lutheran confessions are a valid faith traditions (within the one holy catholic church), I have no problem being shown where I err ect. Above all else, truth is what matters to me. Now, what I don't care for is people just wanting to defend their own church's teaching, instead of actually working through things with me. My blog is my therapy and a means by which I can hopefully work through some of the things I struggle with...not a place to debate (ie work on one's apologetic tactics and so forth and so on). I don't care for individuals who just seem to be there to get their point across or argue with me in other words.


God bless.