March 25, 2014
On Tuesday the Church celebrates the great feast of the Annunciation. We recall the visit of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary. Her ‘yes’ begins the whole process of our salvation through Christ, and from that moment our humanity is being taken up into the godhead.
But Mary’s ‘yes’ wasn’t blithely or quickly given. As you can see if you read the story (Luke 1, 26 – 38), she puts the Archangel through something of a cross examination! Her questioning is not however out of doubt but out of faith. She is astounded that God should choose her to begin the completion of his plan of salvation.
In the same way, our faith isn’t something that means that we never question the messages and messengers that God sends us. It’s only by doing so that we can grow in our appreciation and understanding of what they really mean. An unexamined faith isn’t really worth very much at all.
Mary is always our example in the ways of faith, and her conduct at the Annunciation is a perfect example. She listens, she questions, and then she consents. So too with us, we are called to hear the message, we probe and question and ponder it, and then we say our ‘yes’ to the tasks that God has for us. May Mary, woman of faith, pray for us. P.D.
March 7, 2014
The rigours of Lent are upon us once more. On Wednesday we were told the truth, nothing but the truth, but not the whole truth about our human nature: We are dust and to dust we shall return. But as I said this is not the whole truth. That will be revealed when we come to the end of our Lenten discipline. Then we shall be told that through water and the Holy Spirit we have been reborn as the sons and daughters of God.
The weeks of Lenten take us on the journey from dust to glory, starting with the smearing of ashes and ending with those ashes washed away in the cleansing waters of baptism. This week in the gospel at Mass we hear of a man being tempted and resisting the devil. Next week we see that man revealed as God. We don’t just watch though, we are ourselves are caught up into the story because it is our story too. As we journey on through Lent the other aspects of the mystery of salvation are revealed to us.
We proceed on our way with confidence and with hope. The penance we undertake is not because the body is evil but rather because our own wills leads us away from the truth and from life. By prayer, fasting and almsgiving we are purged and strengthened and renewed.
March 3, 2014
On 1st March we celebrate the feast of St. David, the patron saint of Wales. He lived during the sixth century – the date of his birth is variously given as some date around 500 but most are agreed that he died in the year 569. After a life of vigorous monasticism David became Bishop of Menevia. He was very active in campaigning against the Pelagian heretics who suggested that we can work hard to achieve our own salvation (– an ever present problem for many British people I fear!) and are not totally dependent on the grace of God. He was renowned as a preacher and was keen to send missionaries to revive the faith in Ireland and elsewhere.
Perhaps putting into practice a phrase of St. David’s would be the best way of honouring tomorrow. He told his followers to ‘Be joyful – Keep the faith’. All too often the faith and joy have not gone together. The present Pope has reminded us of the need for joy in the proclamation of the gospel. Christian joy is not some vague feeling of happiness, or some fixed grin smile, rather it comes from a confidence that through Christ good will all triumph, and that the power of love will conquer.
May St. David pray for us so that we may share our faith with joy.