Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D.

3/25/2014 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

On this solemnity which celebrates the high-water point in the history of salvation, permit me to explore with you three Latin expressions

As we think back on how the greatest event in human history occurred, we stand in awe of the fact that the omnipotent God wanted and awaited human cooperation.  God the Father made His plan for our salvation contingent on a human being's saying "yes".  And so, Our Lady stands as a constant reminder of the great things that can happen when the human person cooperates with the divine initiative. 

The Annunciation

The Annunciation

Highlights

By Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D.

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/25/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Annunciation, Mary, Marian, Angel, Incarantion, salvation, Catholic Education Foundation, Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D.


PINE BEACH, N.J. (Catholic Online) - On this solemnity which celebrates the high-water point in the history of salvation, permit me to explore with you three Latin expressions.
   
1.  Verbum caro factum est [The Word became flesh].  We find this line, of course, in the Prologue to St. John's Gospel, and the Epistle to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus is God's last and definitive Word - a word spoken in the flesh.  The doctrine of the Incarnation is the central teaching of Christianity, however, if one were to survey Catholics leaving churches on Sunday mornings by asking, "When did the salvation of the world occur?" the vast majority would give the Protestant answer by saying, "Calvary". 

And they would be wrong, as are Fundamentalists and many other Protestants today, because our salvation began at the Annunciation when "Verbum caro factum est."  Indeed, the whole Christ-event is salvific:  From His conception in the womb of His holy Mother to His ascension to His heavenly Father's right hand.  We are saved by the flesh, the Body of Christ.  As we heard to today's Second Reading, "a body you have prepared for me."  Therefore,
   
2.  Caro cardo salutis [The flesh is the hinge of salvation], as Tertullian informs us.  What saved the world once continues to do so.  The body is good because it was created by God and even more clearly so since the divine plan made it the very means of our redemption.  Because of that, the body - and all material reality - takes on even greater significance.  The Father made it good, indeed, very good.  And Jesus His Son made it holy. 

Hence, all that has been redeemed -  the entire universe - can be marshaled into the on-going work of redemption.  A "catholic" instinct, if you will, then, explains our use of water, bread, wine, oil, and natural things to lead us to experience the supernatural.  Similarly, man's creative genius, especially in the arts, gives us access to the holy.  So,
   
3.  In the Creed, we profess our faith in the "communio sanctorum," usually translated as the "communion of saints," but that is only one meaning.  The Latin phrase is deliberately "multivalent" - like any good symbol.  So, it means "communion of saints," yes, but also "communion in holy things" [that is, the sacraments].  In other words, our membership in the mystical Body of Christ on earth ["communio sanctorum"] is initiated, sustained and brought to completion by that "communio sanctorum" which is the Church's sacramental life. 

And that leads to the consummation of it all in the "communio sanctorum" which is a participation in the beatific vision for all eternity.  That participation will still be embodied/incarnate participation.  Remember: Our Lord and Our Lady presently have bodies - glorified bodies - in heaven, and so will we.  Therefore, the mystery of the Incarnation continues into eternity.
   
What are some attitudes we should form as a result of these truths of faith?
   
1.  Catholics are not Gnostics or Manichaeans or Albigensians or Jansenists who, in various times and places, have made it the heart of their religious convictions to despise the human body.  We realize the profound insight of the glorious Te Deum which charmingly almost reminds the Son, non horruisti Virginis uterum [Thou didst not disdain the Virgin's womb]. 

The Eternal Word of the Father took His flesh from that of the Blessed Virgin Mary, thereby declaring all flesh sacred.  At the same time, we are not libertines who do what we please with our bodies.  We cannot forget that our bodies are just what St. Paul said they are, "temples of the Holy Spirit," bodies destined for eternal glory.  Abuse of the body, then, spits in the face of the Incarnate Word, putting the lie to our theological conviction.
   
2.  Catholics are not Puritans, either sexually or artistically or sacramentally.  If the material universe has been brought into the great dialogue of redemption, everything human must form a part of that dialogue.  The old pagan Roman poet Terence understood this in a very Christian way when he asserted, "nil humanum mihi alienum est" [nothing human is foreign to me]. 

Because the Puritans had a truncated appreciation for the mystery of the Incarnation, they were terrified of that part of man which is so bodily and so human - sexuality.  But true Christians are proud and happy to share in the inheritance of the Song of Songs, which celebrates human love in the covenant of marriage, as Pope John Paul II never tired of teaching the Universal Church  for nearly three decades. 

Nor are true believers in the Incarnation skittish about harnessing man's creative energies to produce beautiful art, music and architecture to adore the God of all beauty and to help raise our minds and hearts to Him, Who gave such magnificent talents to human beings.  And, most especially, Christians recall that when Jesus worked His wonders, He did not hesitate to use even spittle to heal; how much more, then, should we value those works of creation to which He has assigned a saving meaning in His Church - the sacraments, those signs that creation is graced by the Triune God and the promises that our participation in them graces us, too.
   
3.  As we think back on how the greatest event in human history occurred, we stand in awe of the fact that the omnipotent God wanted and awaited human cooperation.  God the Father made His plan for our salvation contingent on a human being's saying "yes".  And so, Our Lady stands as a constant reminder of the great things that can happen when the human person cooperates with the divine initiative. 

But what she did and what God did through her was not a kind of one-day sale; the Lord intends that this happen in the life of every believer.  As St. Augustine put it so powerfully, "the God Who created you without you will not save you without you."  Our participation is crucial for our salvation.  We don't buy into that Reformation notion of "imputed righteousness," which holds that God "makes us right," even though we really aren't. 

No, God makes us right because we want to be right, because we respond to His grace to become right, and therefore, do in fact become right in His sight.  The Mother of the Word Incarnate is our model in this endeavor, but also our faithful intercessor before the throne of her Divine Son. 
   
We also learn how to cooperate with the Lord from the Church, which is - as Sacred Scripture teaches - both Christ's Bride and our Mother.  Holy Church, like Holy Mary, always says "yes" to her Bridegroom; good children always follow their Mother's good example.
   
4.  Last but not least, today's solemnity etches into our consciousness an indefatigable awareness of the sanctity of human life - from conception to natural death.  God began the work of our redemption at the very moment when the Holy Spirit overshadowed the Virgin Mary as the Eternal Word began His life on earth in her womb, "pitching His tent among us," as St. John poetically has it. 

This fact of life and faith makes Christians a people of life, ready to promote the cause of life at every turn and equally ready to do battle with a culture of death.  Those who want to kill babies in their mothers' wombs and those who want to kill the sick and the elderly cannot know the meaning of the Incarnation and cannot hope to benefit from its saving effects.
   
Today's celebration, then, stands at the center of the drama of salvation: Without today, no cross and resurrection; without today, no Church or sacraments; without today, no eternal life on high with God.  In a marvelous even if fanciful recreation of the Angel's visit to Our Lady, St. Bernard of Clairvaux caught the essence of what was really at stake on that first Annunciation Day: The whole of creation was waiting to be redeemed, hanging on the response of the Virgin of Nazareth.  He says:

You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit.  The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God Who sent him.  We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.

The price of our salvation is offered to you.  We shall be set free at once if you consent.  In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die.  In your brief response, we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life.

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.  That 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.
   

Then St. Bernard speaks even more urgently: "Arise, hasten, open.  Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving."  That same encouragement is given to each of us as well - to be true sons and daughters of the woman who enabled God to become Man.  She said, "Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum" [Let it be done to me according to Thy word].  With what result?  Verbum caro factum est [The Word became flesh]. 

If we take seriously this foundational doctrine of our holy Faith - as we must - and live its implications to the full, we can do no less than to echo our Mother's response of loving cooperation, "Let it be done to me according to thy word."  And the mystery of the Incarnation is repeated all over again in our lives and in our world.

-----

Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D. is the Executive Director of the Catholic Education Foundation. The mission of  The Catholic Education Foundation is to serve as a forum through which teachers, administrators and all others interested in Catholic education can share ideas and practices, as well as to highlight successful programs and initiatives to bring about a recovery of Catholic education in our times.The Catholic Education Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)3 national non-profit organization formed to ensure a brighter future for Catholic education in the United States.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2016
Universal:
Sports: That sports may be an opportunity for friendly encounters between peoples and may contribute to peace in the world.
Evangelization: Living the Gospel: That Christians may live the Gospel, giving witness to faith, honesty, and love of neighbor.



Comments


More U.S.

Massachusetts nun loses rosary to lesbian couple Watch

Image of Lesbian muggers rob nun of her rosary beads.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A Sister at the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth convent was mugged by a lesbian couple, who left with the nun's rosary. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the <a ... continue reading


'Right Before I Die': Photographer reveals heartbreaking truth on taboo topic Watch

Image of One photographer captured people's dreams as they drew closer to death (Shutterstock).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Photographer Andrew George decided to interview and photograph people close to death for a project titled "Right Before I Die." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - George's project earned an exhibit at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and he explained the ... continue reading


Deacon Keith Fournier: Jesus Walks with Us on the Dusty Road of Life Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We can learn a vital lesson from this account in the Gospel of Luke; one which can radically reorient our entire life. Jesus is always with us. He accompanies us on the Way of our daily life because He IS the Way. (John 14:6) But, we need our eyes to be opened. ... continue reading


Marian procession to commemorate birthday of Los Angeles Watch

Image of Los Angeles will hold a Marian procession and a votive Mass for the city's 235th anniversary.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The city of Los Angeles will get a Marian procession to mark its 235th anniversary on August 27. The city is named after Our Lady. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - The city of Los Angeles has a very long name. Officially, the city is known as, "The Town of Our ... continue reading


Government finally admits truth about Area 51 Watch

Image of A truck transports a mysterious, covered object to Area 51 under tight security.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Daily Mail has posted pictures of the mysterious fleet of planes that flies workers into Area 51. Area 51 is the secret Air Force facility that is rumored to house alien technology. The existence of the base was only recently acknowledged. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


We Are ALL Called to Labor in the Vineyard of the Lord Watch

Image of A Vineyard

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Do we see the Church as Some-One, the Risen Christ truly present in His mystical Body, into whom we have been Baptized and now live? Do we, like those early believers, understand that to belong to Christ is to belong to His Body and seek to bring the whole world ... continue reading


Obama releases 15 more terror detainees. Here's how many they expect to return to terror Watch

Image of Obama has pledged to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. He has failed to do so.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Obama has shipped 15 terror detainees to the United Arab Emirates for release. It is unlikely Obama will be able to close the terrorist detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - President Obama has released 15 more terror ... continue reading


Terrorism in Milwaukee? - Black Panther Party speaks out Watch

Image of Milwaukee police hold a standoff with protesters following a fatal  police shooting.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The so-called "national minister of defense" for the People's New Black Panther Party claims Milwaukee police are intentionally attacking black men and women in an act of terrorism. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to <a ... continue reading


Cardinal George explains how gay marriage is like Sharia Law Watch

Image of Cardinal George explains how the gay marriage lobby enforces their Sharia Law on the rest of us.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A 2014 column by Cardinal George has resurfaced, referring to gay marriage as a form of "Sharia Law." LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Cardinal George in 2014 explained that the gay marriage movement was similar to Sharia Law in some respects. The comparison is ... continue reading


Theotokos: Mary is the Mother of God and the Mother of the Church Watch

Image of Mary, Mother of the Lord. From the moment of conception, Jesus  was redeeming the world.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

There is a way, a pattern that all men and women are invited into - not just once, but daily. It reveals the path to authentic peace and is the portal of the mystery of meaning itself. It is what Christian Scripture calls the more excellent way, the way of love. ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Second Thessalonians 2:1-3, 14-16
1 About the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, brothers, and our being ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 96:10, 11-12, 13
10 Say among the nations, 'Yahweh is king.' The world is set firm, it ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 23:23-26
23 'Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You pay your ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 23rd, 2016 Image

St. Philip Benizi
August 23: Servite cardinal and preacher. Born in Florence, ... Read More