Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Feast of the Annunciation

With one week remaining before Holy Week, we take a small break from our "bright sadness" to embrace all joy in celebrating the Annunciation. Annunciation is a strangely placed feast in a lot of ways simply because it always occurs during Lent (unless you are Old Calendar when it can possibly coincide with Pascha or even Bright Week, but that's rare), but, of course, it is perfectly reasonably placed as it is nine months before our Lord's Nativity on December 25.

But, aside from the logic of placing it nine months before our Lord's Nativity, the wisdom of placing it in Lent is in many ways necessary. As I have talked before about how the Adoration of the Cross is placed on the third Sunday of Lent to give us hope and encouragement for the rest of Lent, thus the Feast of the Annunciation is in Lent, whether beginning or at the end, to give us hope and encouragement for the rest of the season. Why do we need this encouragement? Because, many of us, including myself, are buckling under the pressure of realizing and contemplating our own sins, our own shortcomings, our own failings to the point that we become despondent and lose hope.

The Church is a hospital. It is not some regulatory commission which sets up bunch of rules and regulations to follow, tells you to do them and says good luck without any kind of help in the process. The Church realizes that its members will fall, fail, buckle, despair, but there are always remedies available through the Church. The Church prescribes remedies and one of them is this Feast where we are called to remove our joyous lamentation for all joy because Christ has come to renew and recreate us through His Incarnation. He did not come so that only our souls will be saved, but so that everything that we are, body, soul and mind is saved. St. Paul tell us a mystery that we shall all be changed. And he's not talking about a renunciation of the body to the point that we condemn it as something that is a punishment. As Gregory the Theologian says and is often quoted, "Whatever Christ did not assume is unhealed."

Despite our failings in warring against the passions, we know that Christ became everything that we are to help us in this warfare. Thus, let us embrace this feast with joy, knowing in both soul and body that we are saved through His coming.

Happy Annunciation!

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