On March 25th the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Annunciation. (In the United States and perhaps other countries, it is moved to the 26th of March when the 25th falls on a Sunday as it does in 2007).
The Annunciation is the event in which the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary, an innocent little Jewish girl in 1st Century Palestine, and tells her that she has been chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus, the Son of God.
It is perhaps an understatement to say that this is significant on many levels. And the significance involves humility, a topic of so many 12-Step meetings. I’ll get into that in Part 2 of this post.
Set aside the less-than-every-day occurrence of a messenger from God telling you that you’re going to give birth to His Son. According to the Gospel accounts, Mary handled it rather well, better than most perhaps as she merely wondered how it would come to pass as she is a Virgin.
All she needed to say was “Yes”, and the whole epic of salvation would continue on its intended course, and the world would be liberated from its enslavement to sin.
So, we have the humility of Mary accepting the stupendous role of being the mother of the Son of God. Her perfect humility enabled her to bear the responsibility of this role, for if pride played a part she would not have been suitable. Pride is a tool the Devil uses in convincing us that we are responsible for our own talents and achievements, as opposed to a humble acknowledgement that we were placed here by God and we cultivate our talents to the best of our ability.
Mary’s purpose was to be the vessel through which the world received the Savior.
Such a vessel has to be free of all stain of sin, hence the angel’s greeting to her with the phrase “Hail, Mary, full of grace” (or “Hail, Highly Favored One” in some translations.) Mary was preserved from Original Sin by the anticipated merits of Jesus’ eventual death and Resurrection. This is the Catholic Dogma of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. If she had Original Sin, then Jesus, by being in her womb and sharing her body and blood, would have shared in her Sin, which is impossible as God is sinless. One could argue then that why couldn’t Jesus have been conceived immaculately? He could have, but the difficulty in that would be that He still would be in Mary’s womb, and what would be the barrier between Him and Original Sin? His own sacrifice on the cross, decades later? He is divine and sinless, so His own death was not for Himself, He died for humanity. So Mary, by sharing her body and blood with Jesus in her womb, would benefit from the eventual sacrifice of Jesus. Mary is the physical barrier between Jesus and her ancestral line, caught in Original Sin like the rest of humanity. The physical barrier protecting Mary from her mother’s state of Original Sin was Jesus, operating from the fullness of time, as God dwells in Eternity.
I believe it was done in this manner to signify the importance of the sacrament of Baptism. Original Sin is washed away by Baptism, which is the sacrament signified by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. By His Blood we are redeemed of Original Sin and born into the Body of Christ (Christianity). Baptism enables us to receive the Holy Spirit. Mary could not have conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit if she was trapped in Original Sin. If she could have, then there would be little rationale for Baptism. Baptism is so important in our being born into the Body of Christ (well, it’s the only way to accomplish that) that this rather confusing and impossible to fully comprehend method occurred. Her “baptism”, so to speak, was Jesus’ eventual shedding of His Blood during His torture and Crucifixion. Through it, she was preserved from inheriting Original Sin. If Jesus was conceived immaculately, solely by God the Father’s will, then there would be no real need for Baptism. It would be purely symbolic, as the Father could make us into his own by use of His own will.
God asked for Mary’s permission, her acquiescence was key. The whole epic of salvation hinged upon her saying “Yes” to God. God loves us, and needs our cooperation to fulfill His plan.
Phew. I’m tired just writing that. And I still have Part 2, later. (The “Incarnation”.)
She accepted God’s will for herself, as so should we. Her acceptance was necessitated by her being a sinless vessel to bear the Lord. While we are certainly not sinless, we should to the best of our ability resist the tendency towards sin by humbling ourselves before God and willingly accept Him into our lives. We must live out our Baptismal life by being Catholic Christians, fully participating in the sacramental life of the Church. For ordinary rank-and-file butts-in-the-pews Catholics this means going to Mass and recieving Holy Communion. And to recieve it properly by previously going to sacramental Confession and having our sins forgiven. (This is so that we can be a proper receptacle for receiving Jesus into ourselves, as that is what Communion is, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus, in the form of Bread. (Read, “Does this shock you?” )
What does all this have to do with recovery from alcoholism? Well, this is “Sober Catholic” and the intended purpose of this blog is to help you realize the richness and fullness of the Catholic Faith. Giving you things like the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception to mentally munch on is supposed to get you to start thinking of less mundane things. If you can spend some time every day wrapping your mind around such concepts, things tempting you to drink won’t sstand a chance.
Worked for me.Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)"The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"