Eve’s “No” verses Mary’s “Yes”

“i imagine that yes is the only living thing.”
E.E. Cummings


(Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden / Masaccio / 1425 / Florence )



(Bicci di Lorenzo / 1433-1434 / The Annunciation panels / private collection)

Please enjoy the Christmas Eve Homily offered by Bishop Gavin Ashenden.
Bishop Ashenden raises an interesting observation…

That in Eve’s having said “no” to God—in her refusal to His obedience,
man then fell victim to the addiction to sin and disobedience.

Mary in turn counters that sinfulness no by offering her simple “yes”….

And in Mary’s yes…she brings us all to God’s saving Grace.
Of which brings to all of humankind, through the birth of her son Yeshua,
the freedom from this never-ending cycle of disobedient addiction…

News

“I think those are very wrong who say that schoolboys should be encouraged
to read the newspapers.
Nearly all that a boy reads there in his teens will be known
before he is twenty to have been false in emphasis and interpretation,
if not in fact as well, and most of it will have lost all importance.
Most of what he remembers he will therefore have to unlearn;
and he will probably have acquired an incurable taste for vulgarity and sensationalism
and the fatal habit of fluttering from paragraph to paragraph to learn
how an actress has been divorced in California, a train derailed in France,
and quadruplets born in New Zealand.”

C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy

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(C.S.Lewis busy at his desk / The New York C.S.Lewis Society)

Had I not known that Mr. Lewis had penned these observational words in 1955,
I would have thought they were but a mere reflection of our own current times and condition.

However Mr Lewis may actually have been more soothsayer than mere observer,
as it seems as if our current crisis of all things “news”…fake or real,
is actually what Mr Lewis opines..albeit these 50 years later…
that we have succumbed to believing that our news must smell of the vulgar
and the sensational…
while being heavily accented with that of the unreal, surreal and the fake.

Yet man is so caught up with himself,
spinning about in his tiny world of chaos,
that he has failed to see the real breaking news of the day…
A story that in all truth has the makings of sheer sensationalism, sans the vulgarity.
A story offering both life and death with high stakes drama involved.
A story that is so far beyond us that it seems to be more fiction than fact…

But…that is where the glory is to be found…
in the mere fact that it is a story that seems more impossible then possible…

In 1945, a young Jesuit priest sat in a foreboding jail cell, condemned to death.

Enduring beatings and torture, as he awaited execution, this young priest,
whose hands were shackled both day and night,
began writing profusely about a news story of which he was all too familiar…

One might only imagine that the small dank cell and the overwhelming isolation of
solitary confinement, along with the added weight of certain death hanging over
his head, would diminish any sense or need, let alone excitement or utter joy,
that actually engulfed this young priest who felt compelled to relay this particular news story…
Yet it was to be to the contrary, for the darkness of his current situation only heightened his
sense of wonderment and the urgent burning desire that he share this story at any and all costs.

So each day, with shackled hands, this young priest would write and each day his writings,
one by one,
were secretly smuggled out of the prison.

The news that this young priest felt so compelled to share,
the news which was not of death and passing
but was rather a story of hope and salvation…
is still as relevant and news worthy today as it was during those dark days of 1945…

“The horror of these times would be unendurable unless we kept being
cheered and set upright again by the promises that are spoken.
The angels of annunciation, speaking their message of blessing into the midst of anguish,
scattering their seed of blessing that will one day spring up amid the night,
call us to hope.”

“Let us ask for clear eyes that are able to see God’s messengers of annunciation;
for awakened hearts with the wisdom to hear the words of promise.
Let us ask for faith in the motherly consecration of life as shown in the figure of
the blessed woman of Nazareth.
Let us be patient and wait, wait with Advent readiness for the omen when
it pleases God to appear in our night too, as the fruit and mystery of this time.
And let us ask for the openness and willingness to hear God’s warning messengers
and to conquer life’s wilderness through repentant hearts.”

“Let us then live in today’s Advent, for it is the time of promise.”

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(Father Alfred Delp)

Alfred Delp
excerpt:
The Shaking Reality of Advent / 1945
Watch For the Light
Readings for Advent and Christmas
Plough Publishing House.

mysteries

“that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love,
and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding,
resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself”

Colossians 2:2

The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw and knew…
I saw all things in God,
and God in all things.

Mechtild of Magdeburg

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(annunciation from The Book of Hours/ also known as the Black Hours due to the process of first layering the vellum with carbon / 1470 / Bruges, Belgium)

We are a people of mystery who in turn love a mystery…
The stuff of which puts one sitting on the edge of one’s seat…
nail biting and gripping.

The strange and often unexplainable,
yet which,
is always nicely and neatly revealed and eventually solved in the end.

Solved…
as in understood
as in light has been shed,
as in understanding has been gained…

Resulting in…
satisfaction and fulfilment.

Yet how to understand that which is not understandable?
How to solve that which is unsolvable?

The angel went to her and said,
“Greetings, you who are highly favored!
The Lord is with you.”

Simple enough…

An angel,
an ethereal being,
an otherworldly being…
that which is beyond us…

Strange,
Intriguing,
and Unexplainable…

But the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,
and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever;
his kingdom will never end.”

Presented, most matter of factly, is the unexplainable…
as curiosity is piqued.

How will this be,” Mary asked the angel,
“since I am a virgin?

As the strange and the unexplainable is neatly revealed.

The angel answered,
“The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God.
Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age,
and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.
For no word from God will ever fail.”

Nail biting.
Intriguing.
Exciting.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered.
“May your word to me be fulfilled.”

Then the angel left her.

The mystery,
the intriguing
the gripping,
the unexplainable….

Revealed…

Explained…

As in solved…
as in understanding is gleaned…

Leading to inviting acceptance…

In turn leading to satisfaction…
as in light has been shed…

And soon…
fulfillment is satisfactorily achieved…
for all involved….

And so it is….

(Luke 1:26-38)

It all began with a simple greeting

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As we enter into Holy week, I think back to the very beginning of how we came to the sorrow of this week– which will, thankfully, give way to joy. In the beginning there was also joy, just as there was the foreboding of sorrow— eventually giving way to victory….”Hail favored one! The Lord is with you.”
(photograph: reproduction of Fra Angelico’s Annunciation–Florence, Italy)