There must be something wrong with me; I just haven’t managed today to feel very spiritual about the Annunciation. Compared to the effort I put into the celebration of my Name Day last week, I feel like my efforts today have been entirely feeble. To be fair, it is my penultimate day in my current job, and so I’m mostly tying up loose ends in the office and saying goodbye to colleagues. The thought of serving as Subdeacon on Palm Sunday (and having two epistles to chant!) is playing on my mind, as I must remember to revise the rubrics for that day. Holy Week and the desperate need for some quiet time before the Sacred Triduum is similarly looming over my waking hours and stressing me out mildly. I woke up this morning, said my prayers and my novena devotions to S. Rita of Cascia for my grandmother’s health (!), but despite the short time I’ve offered to God in prayer today; I feel that between myself and the mystery of the Incarnation is an unfathomable spiritual distance that frustrates me and leaves me feeling, well, disappointed.
I don’t know what I should do, but I have a good idea of what I’m going to do. Before or after Mass today, I will try to spend some time in quiet prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and I will try to pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, because that is where we are promised a way into the boundless mystery of the Incarnation which we celebrate today. The Eucharist is that sacred rite in which the entire redemptive act, which begins to play out at the Annunciation, is made present to us. The Mass brings together every line of the story, from Annunciation to Presentation, to Passion to Crucifixion to Resurrection, bringing the bookends of the narrative together and fusing these moments into one. In the shadow of these other events, especially of the Passion and Death of Christ, the Annunciation begins to round-out, and we see it for what it is, a Holy Mystery, as unfathomable as all the others, but comforting, meaningful; the manifestation of a Love that knows no bounds. We see Mary’s fiat, in which the exuberance of love for God that she had been storing up in her Immaculate Heart, suddenly overflows, only to be replaced by the bitter grain of Simeon’s prophecy, and ultimately the sword that pierced that same innocent heart at the sight of her Son and Lord crucified.
Our comfort and our joy, on the feast of the Annunciation, is to participate in that bitter-sweet sacrifice of Mary’s “yes” by receiving Jesus into our souls in Holy Communion, and nurturing Him there as Mary did in her womb. Mary’s sacrifice is joined to Christ’s, as it is so often said; one could not happen without the other. No matter how lazy or unmoved I feel today, I know that in the Blessed Sacrament I will receive the grace to dive into that Mystery and dwell there for as much as my soul can bear, and that I will be sharing in Mary’s sacrifice, which begins today with her joy at the Annunciation, and is completed tomorrow when her Heart is pierced by the last of her Seven Sorrows.
For readers in London, there will be a Low Mass with Cantor at S. Magnus the Martyr at 6pm. You will be very welcome to join us there.