St. Mary

Today is the feast of St. Mary the Virgin, mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Mary is far too often overlooked. To the extent that our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters may seem to over-emphasize Mary, Protestant traditions are certainly guilty of all but ignoring her.

I think that’s a shame. What we believe about Mary directly impacts what we believe about Jesus. The virgin birth of Jesus is a central—essential—doctrine of Christianity. And it’s impossible for there to be a virgin birth without, well, a virgin. God’s plan to save creation by becoming incarnate in it hinges on the consent of this teenage girl—a low-status, disenfranchised member of an oppressed people living in the backwaters of the Roman Empire.

Mary gives our savior his human nature. If Jesus is not both son of God and son of Mary, then our human nature has not been redeemed. As St. Athanasius puts it: “What has not been assumed has not been redeemed.” In other words, if Christ is not fully divine and fully human, then the project of restoring human nature to the image of God given at creation has failed.

Could God have redeemed humanity, and indeed the cosmos, some other way? Certainly. But the way God has chosen to act is in partnership with human beings. In particular, God chose to bring salvation by partnering with a human woman named Mary.

Salvation begins when Mary says “Let it be with me according to you word” (Luke 1:38).

All Christians should adore Mary and give thanks for her essential role in bringing to fruition God’s plan to redeem the world. We should learn from her example of quiet trust in the goodness of God and submission to God’s good will for us and all creation. And we should obey Mary by doing whatever Jesus says (John 2:5).

I invite you to pause for a moment today to contemplate the mystery of the incarnation, that God in Jesus Christ became truly human in order to restore humanity; that the creator became a part of his own creation in order to redeem it; that a virgin girl said “Yes” to God and gave birth to God’s Incarnate Self.

Contemplate this mystery and be thankful.

O God, you have taken to yourself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of your incarnate Son: Grant that we, who have been redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A Good Thing

Whoever gets a wife gets a good thing, and has the approval of the Lord.

Proverbs 18:22

It’s easy to take the person you love for granted. Sometimes all the things they do go unnoticed, or, at least, unacknowledged. Sometimes we get downright hostile to the people who care for us the most. That’s usually because we know we’re not living up to the love they’ve invested in us.

Continue reading “A Good Thing”

Absolved, not pardoned

It seems silly to say out loud, but I have a fear of the present.

Everything in my life is centered on what’s going to happen. I’m putting everything off. What am I waiting on? I don’t know. Every idea I have, every hope and dream is simply something else that’s waiting.

For.

What?

There’s no guarantee any of the things I’m planning will ever come to pass. And, for the most part, I have no control over whether or not they do.

What I can control is me. Myself. My reaction to this very moment. And what am I doing? Predominantly nothing.
Because nothing is happening yet. So I’m absolved from acting. But this absolution doesn’t pardon me.

I should suffer no self-delusion, nor abide any excuse for the utter waste of time my life is becoming. Free-will, squandered in the meaningless pursuit of entertainment, is a far worse fate than predestination. To squander opportunity is to murder your dreams.

Even in the moments between the moments that change our lives, there’s a germ of opportunity waiting to be exploited; time remains at its post, waiting to see if I’ll use every second I’m granted to inch that much closer to a destiny, a calling, a dream.

So what am I doing right now? Am I waiting for life to happen, or am I actively becoming the person I was meant to be?

Letters of Note

A fascinating new site devoted to letters, notes and other correspondence of historical or cultural significance. Initial entries include a letter from FDR to the commissioner of baseball, the Lindbergh ransom note and an achingly beautiful note written by Churchill, to be delivered to his wife in the event of his death.

Letters of Note