Yes, and Forever Changed

‘The Annunciation’ by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1898.

He came within our world, and the world would never be the same. In an angelic announcement the proposal was made that would forever unite God and man, reclaiming a radical union.

Her womb became His first earthly home; His heart beat with her heart, her love would be multiplied and returned to us beneath the Cross.

As His mother, she becomes a mother to us, transforming the aspirations of every human heart, such that through her love, her sacrifice, her solid trust, her perfect acceptance of the generosity of God, we receive the means through which we walk along the ways of the valley of tears with the faith that says:

‘Fiat; Yes, be it done to me.’

The Incarnation stands as a pivotal event in the history of redemption. To ponder its value is to consider the radical humility of God, who literally descended to our level to allow us to ascend to Him both in desire and in actual response.

This possibility continues to effect its power on the modern world. To deny it, is to stand apart from the wellspring of goodness that generates the life of the soul. In the light of eternity, the Maiden’s ‘Fiat’ is the standard by which human history will be judged, and His descent, the point of departure by which every ‘yes’ ever uttered gains the grace to effect the plan of redemption.

One ‘yes.’ All was then forever changed, and truly, nothing would again be casual and small.

I Sing of a Maiden
Rev. John Duffy, C.S.s.R.

And was it true,
The stranger standing so,
And saying things that lifted her in two,
And put her back before the world’s beginning?
Her eyes filled slowly with the morning glow.
Her drowsy ear drank in a first sweet dubious bird.
Her cheek against the pillow woke and stirred
To gales enriched by passage over dew,
And friendly fields and slopes of Galilee
Arose in tremulous intermixture with her dreams,
Till she remembered suddenly…

Although the morning beams
Came spilling in the gradual rubric known to every day,
And hills stood ruinous, as an eclipse,
Against the softly spreading ray,
Not touched by any strange apocalypse
Like that which yesterday had lifted her sublime,
And put her back before the first grey morn of Time —
Though nothing was disturbed from where she lay and saw,
Now she remembered with a quick and panting awe
That someone came, and took in hand her heart,
And broke irresistibly apart,
With what he said, and how in tall suspense
He lingered, while the white celestial inference,
Pushing her fears apart, went softly home.

Then she had faltered her reply,
And felt a sudden burden of eternal years,
And shamed by the angelic stranger standing by
Had bowed her head to hide her human tears.
Never again would she awake
And find herself the buoyant Galilean lass,
But into her dissolving dreams would break
A hovering consciousness too terrible to pass —
A new awareness in her body when she stirred,
A sense of Light within her virgin gloom:
She was the Mother of the wandering Word,
Little and terrifying in her laboring womb.
And nothing would again be casual and small,
But everything with light invested, overspilled
With terror and divinity, the dawn, the first bird’s call,
The silhouetted pitcher waiting to be filled.

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