Friday, March 25, 2016

They Said Yes

Today is March 25. Typically, the day that we honor and remember the Annunciation. At the Annunciation, Mary posed a question to the angel who told her that she was going to have a son: "how can this be?" After the angel answered her question, she said: "let it be done according to your word"- her yes. Her fiat.

This is one of my favorite images of the Annunciation. It's in a convent in Florence, Italy which I didn't get to see when I was there this past summer. Another reason to go back!

Today, however, this feast gets trumped by Good Friday (understandably). But it is so interesting to me that today marks another day where we remember a very important yes. And this yes that Christ says for all of us today could not have been possible without that of Mary's fiat. God knew that, which is why He set aside Mary, the Immaculate Conception, for this perfect purpose.

I think it's so cool that these two days collide. The new beginning of our salvation story remembered on a day when our salvation was given to us. God is still working and the Holy Spirit is still moving and we remember it especially on days like today.

This week of Holy Week has reminded me in many ways that God is still working, which is a reminder that we all need. In a world of terrorist attacks, government debacles, and media circuses, we need the reminders of Hope and Mercy. I received these reminders this week in my Church and school communities.

On Palm Sunday, my church works alongside some other Christian churches in the area to put on a Palm Sunday procession through one of the main streets in Richmond. Sadly, there aren't too many occasions when Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopal, and Catholic come together. But on this Palm Sunday, we all greeted Christ together with palms and songs and walked together to witness to others in our city. A sign of hope and mercy.

Talking to my students about the Triduum and watching them pray the Stations of the Cross also gives me hope. This Lent, our 8th graders performed a type of "Living Stations" for the rest of the school. I remember doing this as a youth and when I taught at the high school, my students and I would often joke how "Living Stations" is such a weirdly Catholic thing. A rite of passage in a way. But as I sat and prayed with my school community this week the last few Stations of the Cross, I was taken with the fact that this is our faith formation in action. The faith is being handed on to the next generation. I see my students take an interest in our faith every day. And I pray and hope that they will continue to carry it and pass it on to the next.

Days like today and in times like the Triduum, it is easy to see our faith alive and in action. People around the world are celebrating in streets, in Churches, in homes, in schools. Yesterday, I went to my decidedly favorite Mass of the year- Holy Thursday- and thought: tonight is special because we are remembering the Last Supper, but we do this *every time* the Mass is said. The Holy Thursday Mass really isn't that different than every other Mass on Sunday, but somehow it feels different because of the drama of the night.

And speaking of that drama, one of my favorite parts of Holy Thursday is processing to the altar of repose after the service. So many years in my twenties I would stay and "agonize" with Jesus in the garden over whatever drama I had in my life at the time- vocation discernment, job discernment, relationship discernment. This year, for the first time, remembering the Agony in the Garden with Jesus wasn't that agonizing. I honestly have no current drama in my life. I am at peace and I am happy. It was a little strange to be so happy and at peace at a time when we remember Christ's grappling with His fate. So I united the agony of our world and country and those struggles of others with Him last night, and I gave thanks for the peace and mercy He has shown.

Praying at the altar of repose in the Cathedral last night- Holy Thursday.

Christ, like Mary, asked God a question of sorts: "Lord, if it is Your Will, let this cup pass from me." In this moment in the Agony in the Garden, He, like Mary, has an opportunity to say no. But He said yes. We remember both of these great "yes"s today. And we thank God for the Hope and Mercy they bring because of their yes this day.

Tomorrow, I know there is going to be much joy and awe at the Easter Vigil when the candidates we have been working with in RCIA enter the Church! I am so excited for these new Catholics who have shared their desire and faith with us for so long. I also know that God is going to bring conversion to those of us who need to renew our faith. This year, I know that the Resurrection is going to bring much hope and joy.

Have a blessed Good Friday.