Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Annunication by Henry Ossawa Tanner, Philadelphia Museum of Art  

Even if you don't have the time, drive, or energy to pray the Office of Readings daily, it wouldn't be a bad idea to just squeeze in the second reading. It's always something from one of the saints, fathers, or councils of the Church. Just a great way to sample theses treasures that the Church has preserved for us from across the centuries. 

And even if you can't do this, today's second reading, from St. Bernard, is a gem of Marian poetry that ought not to be missed during this final week of Advent. You ought to be meditating on something this week, right? Here St. Bernard dramatizes that moment between the Angel Gabriel's announcement to Mary and her response. In those seconds or minutes of delay, the fate of us all seemed, to Bernard, to hang in a balance:

Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.

Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.

Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary. Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter...

You may read the rest of it in the ibreviary widget at the right.