Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lady Day 2015

The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci (1472–1475) Uffizi Gallery

Alice C. Linsley

Today my 12th grandchild was born: Sebastian Otto! I am so thankful. It seems fortuitous that he should be born on this Lady Day.

In the western liturgical year, Lady Day is the traditional name in some English speaking countries of the Feast of the Annunciation (25 March), known in the 1549 Prayer Book of Edward VI and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


That All, which always is All everywhere,
Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,
Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,
Loe, faithful Virgin, yields himself to lie
In prison, in thy womb; and though he there
Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet he will wear
Taken from thence, flesh,
which death's force may try.
Ere by the spheres time was created, thou
Wast in his mind, who is thy Son, and Brother,
Whom thou conceiv'st, conceiv'd;
yea thou art now
Thy maker's maker, and thy Father's mother,
Thou hast light in dark; and shutst in little room,
Immensity, cloistered in thy dear womb.

- John Donne (1572-1631)


Here is Mary, the woman of prayer, attentive and responsive to God, with hands open and empty before God, not clinging to any conditions. A simple fiat. Yes. Be it done to me according to your word. Indeed, "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord" (Luke 1:45). By faith she permitted the Father to fulfill His plan and welcomed the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. By faith she embraced the Word made flesh in her womb. We know that "without faith it is impossible to please God" (cf. Hebrews 11:6) and that Mary found favor with Him by her faith.

So must we, at this juncture in our lives as individuals and as a movement, kneel before the Father in a radical poverty of spirit and learn to pray with hands open and empty. In the past 30 years we have received great graces, but I'm afraid that too often we've returned to God with our hands full instead of empty. I sense that there are new "annunciations" being given for a new move of the Spirit, but that many of us don't really want God to be God. We still want Him on our own terms... a God who will fit into a prescribed pattern of acting. We don't want the Living God who turned Mary's life upside down. Let's be careful! By her, faith, Mary permitted God to "create a new thing upon the earth' (Jeremiah 31:22). As I've asked Mary to be my mother and teach me to pray with hands open and empty, this is what I am leaning to say to the Father, "With Mary, I want to be for You all YES, only YES, always YES."

- Patti Gallagher Mansfield (from an article in the July-August 1997 issue of the ICCRS Newsletter. ICCRS , Palazzo della Cancelleria, 00120 Vatican City, Europe.)


ed pacht said...

March 25, 2015. Feast of the Annunciation. Mary said, “Be it unto me according to thy will,” and then, “My soul doth magnify the Lord…” Oftentimes it becomes difficult to say either or both of these things, and that is part of what Lent is supposed to do for us. Now, this Lent …

It Has Been …

A hard Lent,
a thoughtful Lent,
a less than pious Lent,
with less time in church,
less formal prayer,
less meditative reading
than in other Lents,
but with a sharpened knowledge
of the weakness of the spirit,
and the frailness of the body,
and the shortness of the time
that one is given on the earth –
it is a Lent of sickness,
of myself and others around me;
a Lent where death is near
and several die around me,
where sickness in a church
brings changes that seem wrong
but have descended willy-nilly on it;
a Lent of laws that work injustice,
of discouragement and near despair,
of depression, but of hope:
for behind the negativity of life
there is the hand of God,
there is the gateway of the cross,
there is a pathway from the trials of this life
that surely leads unto the throne of God;
there is a will to good I cannot see,
to glories never to be seen with eyes,
to a presence seldom fully realized,
but never absent from a Christian’s life;
and in the hardness of this Lent,
in the midst of burdens I can’t really bear,
at the heart of all my unhappiness,
I give thanks:
for God is good,
His goodness never fails,
and even now I walk and dwell
in the arms of One who’ll never let me go.

-----ed pacht

Alice Linsley said...

Beautiful, Ed. I'll repost your poem on March 25, 2016.