Speak Lord: Speak Mary

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The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’

She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’

Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God’

‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

Gospel for the 4th Sunday of Advent
Luke 1:26-38

The story of the Annunciation to Mary is preceded of that to Zechariah, which does not turn out so very well for the father of John the Baptist!

How will this episode turn out? The priest failed, even in the very Temple of God. How will this young woman fare?

She questions, and she keeps us in suspense, but at the end her response is as form and and as clear and as faithful as it could be. Her answer changes the world, and allows for the salvation of the world.

Her answer might be ours this day, as we face our different, probably very different, circumstances…

Carving of the Annunciation. Exhibited in Pantheon, Rome, 2003. Photograph (c) Allen Morris, 2003

Taste and See: Come, Holy Spirit…

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May the Holy Spirit, O Lord,
sanctify these gifts laid upon your altar,
just as he filled with his power the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Through Christ our Lord.

Prayer over the Offerings. 4th Sunday of Advent

The above prayer asks for an extraordinary thing. It asks for a work of the Spirit, equivalent to that of the incarnation of Jesus in the womb of the Virgin, Mary.

The extraordinary thing that is Jesus taking flesh and Jesus giving of his very self in form of bread and wine should indeed startle us. Neither makes ‘sense’ in worldly terms, or can be accounted for in terms of science. Yet both find their ‘sense’ in love, in God’s love for his people. Jesus comes as Saviour through Mary and in food and drink and he comes to those hungry for God’s love.

Tabernacle and Icon of the Annunciation. Catholic Church, Osterley. (c) 2007, Allen Morris

Taste and See: We’re in…

p1010251-annunciationPour forth, we beseech you, O Lord,
your grace into our hearts,
that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son
was made known by the message of an Angel,
may by his Passion and Cross
be brought to the glory of his Resurrection.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Collect for 4th Sunday of Advent

The Collect at Mass yesterday is one of hte most familiar of the series of opening prayers used at Mass, because of its use also in the Rosary.

When we pray the Rosary we contemplate Mysteries of the life of Mary and Jesus. In the prayer we place ourselves alongside Mary and Jesus and the others whose history is preserved in the Gospels and in the Rosary. The Incarnation was made known not only to Mary but to us, and the Passion, Cross and Resurrection were not events in Jesus life only, but events in whcih we share and hope to share.

  • In what way(s) are you aware of receiving God’s grace in recent days?
  • For what – in the days to come – do you need God’s grace.
  • Maybe in the coming days you can share a praying of the Rosary with family or friends… perhaps focussing on the Joyful Mysteries of the Annunciation and Visitation and Nativity…

Annunciation, Rosary Way. Aylesford Priory. (c) 2012, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Becoming the Bread we eat.

Tabernacle, Osterley

The Prayer after Communion at Mass on Sunday, the 13th of Ordinary time, provides the ever-timely reminder of a principal reason for the Mass.

The Mass is gifted to us not only that, through our participation  in Christ’s Sacrificial self-offering, bread and wine will be changed into his Body and Blood. It is also gifted to us that through our participation we, who are his Body, might also be changed, so as to be more like him, more fruitful in him.

May this divine sacrifice we have offered and received
fill us with life, O Lord, we pray,
so that, bound to you in lasting charity,
we may bear fruit that lasts for ever.
Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

In the image above Mary receives the Body of Christ by her yes to what God invites her to. We can say our yes to God in a myriad ways, and maybe we do. But we especially say our ‘Yes when we say our Amen as we receive the Bread of life and the Chalice of Salvation.

But the Lord nourishes us so we might live our ‘Yes’ in the daily business of life, in our work, in our care of neighbour, in our fulfilling the potential of our selves.

  • How do you live your ‘Yes’?

Icon of Annunciation and Tabernacle. St Vincent de Paul, Osterley. (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

Taste and see: NOTHING is impossible to God

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The Gospel for last Sunday’s Mass, that of the fourth Sunday of Advent, treats of the truly remarkable. The story may be so familiar that we sometimes forget how extraordinary what is proposed (and achieved through God’s love and Mary’s love.)

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’

Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’

‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God’

‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

,Luke  1.26-38

It is so easy for things to simply to go on as before – with the only change being ‘more of the same’.

Yet God and the gospel calls us to newness, radical newness. And assures us that nothing is impossible for God.

Pope Francis would include in what is possible for God is the renewal of the Church and its ministers. His ‘rebuke‘ may jar with the sentimentality that the High Streets peddle at Christmas. But it reminds that the Gospel is about salvation, and the Church is there in Christ to minister nothing less.

Image is a print by Eric Gill

Speak Lord: Even by angels!

Annunciation Nazareth

The Gospel for today’s Mass, of the fourth Sunday of Advent, has our final preparation for Christmas firmly in mind.

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’

Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’

‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God’

‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

Luke  1.26-38

In a sense the preparation for Christmas begins as we await Mary’s yes to God.

In another sense, as the Liturgy of the Word bears eloquent testimony, it begins long before in the history of Israel, chosen but failing short. God responds to human frailty – described so poignantly in the tale of Adam and Eve: our sin awakes a loving response in the Creator of all.

And still does. THE good news is not so much the birth of Jesus then, but the love of God in Jesus now – for each and every person, always, everywhere. We spoil so much and sometimes, as this week’s headlines demonstrate, do so in ways that shock and appall, even now after so long a history of shocking acts.

The Christian response is to counter terror and horror by love. Often we fail, and give into motives of fear and revenge. But love is what is needed and love is what is called for.

To Mary the angel says ‘Do not be afraid’, ‘Serve: love.’ To us the same is said.

Pray today that we – and not just you – will listen, and will serve God lovingly for Himself and in our neighbour, all of them!

Photograph of statue of the Annunication in the grounds of the Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.