Climbing Mountains with Ease

a002761bd5c228357b9068ae67575da5When the eternal God meant to stoop so low as to be fixed in our center, he chose for his mother a holy person and a maid. She received the angel’s message with such sublimity of faith that her faith was turned into vision, her hopes into actual possession, and her grace into glory. She who was now full of God, bearing God in her virgin womb, and the Holy Spirit in her heart, arose with haste and gladness to communicate that joy which was designed for all the world; and she found no breast to pour forth the first emanations of her overjoyed heart so fit as her cousin Elizabeth’s, for she was to be the mother of the Baptist, who was sent a forerunner “to prepare the way of the Lord” her son.

Let us notice how light and airy was the coming of the Virgin, as she made haste over the mountains; her very little burden which she bore hindered her not but that she might make haste enough; and as her spirit was full of cheerfulness and alacrity, so even her body was made airy and full of life. And there is this excellency in religion that when we carry Christ within us, his presence is neither so peevish as to disturb our health, nor so sad as to discompose our cheerfulness, but he recreates our body by charity and by securing God’s providence over us while we are in the pursuit of the heavenly kingdom. For as the Virgin climbed mountains easily, so there is no difficulty in our life so great, but it may be managed by those assistances we receive from the holiest about us.

—From The Life of our Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667)

 

Doing God’s Will

Sermon for Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Feast of the Annunciation

Isaiah 7:10-14
Hebrews 10:4-10
Luke 1:26-38

Preached at Bethany Convent, Arlington

annunciation-william-brassey-holeIf there is a common thread in this morning’s readings, it is the doing of God’s will.  In Isaiah, it was God’s will that Ahaz ask God for a sign.  Hebrews writes that “It is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  And Luke’s story of the angel announcing to Mary ends with Mary’s acquiescing to God’s will:  “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Continue reading

Make Room for even Better Hopes and Dreams

Sermon for Sunday, December 20, 2015
Fourth Sunday of Advent

corn_fieldThis morning I am going to talk about Mary and angels, and also about hopes and dreams. But I don’t want to begin there. I want to begin with a soccer game and the setting aside of hopes and dreams.

I knew, right then, that a mid-life crisis was in my future. There, at the edge of the field after Shaw’s soccer game was over (he was maybe in the fourth grade) … Well, let’s just say I was taken right back to my youth. To endless summer days in the rural Midwest, to the smell of the earth, the sound of the wind blowing through rows of corn, an achingly blue sky overhead, and that youthful yearning, awakening. That figure, those curves; I’d seen them somewhere before… “Dodge Challenger, 1972!” I thought. Only it wasn’t the ’72; it was the 2008, the first year in which Dodge reintroduced the model. Continue reading

Let It Be Done Unto Me

a-annunciation_gherado_starnina_1482

Annunciation, Gherardo Stamina, 1482

The angel is waiting for your answer: it is time for him to return to the One who sent him. And we too are waiting, O Lady, for this word of mercy, we-who are overwhelmed by misery under sentence of condemnation. The price of our salvation is being offered to you. If you consent, we shall be set free straight away. In -the eternal Word of God we have all been made, and look, we are dying. By one small word of yours in answer we shall be restored and brought back to life.

Answer, O Virgin, answer the angel quickly; or rather, through the angel answer God. Speak the word and receive the Word. Offer what is yours and conceive what is God’s. Breathe one fleeting word and embrace the eternal Word.   Continue reading

Waiting For Her Answer

evangelismos_tis_theotokou_35The angel is waiting for your answer, O Lady. It is time for him to return to the One who sent him. And we too are waiting, O Lady, for this word of mercy… The price of our salvation is being offered to you. If you consent, we shall be set free straight away… By one small word of yours in answer we shall be restored and brought back to life…

O Virgin, answer the angel quickly. Speak the word and receive the Word. Offer what is yours and conceive what is God’s. Breathe one fleeting word and embrace the eternal Word. Why delay? Why be afraid? Believe, speak, receive! Let your humility be clothed with courage, and your reserve with trust…

O Blessed Virgin, open your heart to faith, your lips to speak, your womb to your Creator. Behold, the long-desired of the nations is standing at the door and knocking. Oh, what if he should pass by because of your delay and again in sorrow you should have to begin to seek for him whom your soul loves? Rise up, then, run and open! Arise by faith, run by the devotion of your heart, open by consent. And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done unto me according to your word.’

— From a sermon by Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)