The Angel Gabriel comes to Mary.
Georges Bernanos: “The ancient world of sorrow, the world before the access of grace, cradled her to its heavy heart for many centuries, dimly awaiting a virgo genetrix (Virgin mother).”
The writer Flannery O’Connor was born Mary Flannery O’Connor on March 25, 1925, in Savannah, Ga. She was named Mary because she was born on the feast of the Annunciation.
Charles Péguy, from La Porche de mystère de la deuxième Vertu:
L’Esperance est une petite fille de rien du tout,
Qui est venue au monde le jour de
Noël de l’année dernière.
C’est elle, cette petite qui entraine tout.
Car la foi ne voit que ce qui est.
Et elle elle voit ce qui sera.
La charit?n’aime que ce qui est.
Et elle elle aime ce qui sera.
(Hope is a little girl of no importance,
Who came into the world on Christmas Day last year.
It is she, this little one who carries along all.
Because faith sees only what is.
And she sees what will be.
Charity loves only what is.
And she loves what will be.’)
The art by Duccio di Buoninsegna
Preparing for Holy Week, the last two weeks of Lent here so soon. Traditionally this Sunday is called First Passion Sunday or First Sunday of the Passion, hence Passiontide, a term no longer formally used but familiar enough to those of us from an older generation.
It is also known as Iudica Sunday, from the first word of the Introit of Mass (from Ps 42/41), and sometimes Repus (from repositus analogous to absconditus, “hidden”) because crosses and other images in churches are to be veiled in violet or purple cloth, not transparent or ornamented. “Jesus autem abscondebat se.” These veils will remain until the stripping of the altars on Good Friday. From this Sunday on, in the Extraordinary Form the “Iudica” psalm is no longer said during the prayers at the foot of the altar and the Gloria Patri at the end of certain prayers is not said.
The season of the Seven Doulours of Mary, the season of the Stabat Mater anticipated.
Third Sunday of Lent, reading excerpts from John L Allen’s new book The Francis Miracle: Inside the Transformation of the Pope and the Church:
Mercy is a traditional virtue, not just in Christianity but most human cultures. It has always been on the books in official Christian teaching and is understood to be the natural complement to judgment. As a minister of the Christian gospel, Francis understands that he has to pronounce both God’s judgment and God’s mercy on a fallen world, because one without the other would be a falsification. His calculation, however, appears to be that the world has heard the Church’s judgment with crystal clarity, so now it’s time to witness its mercy.
Francis’s commitment to mercy is found in his papal motto, translated loosely as “choosing through the eyes of mercy.” In his first Sunday homily as pope, delivered at the Vatican’s parish church of St. Anne, he said that “in my opinion, the strongest message of the Lord is mercy.”
In all the ways that matter, mercy is the spiritual bedrock of this papacy. It lies underneath Francis’s moderation and his insistence that laws are made for people, not the other way around. It’s the basis for his missionary drive, especially the conviction that people at the periphery should be special objects of the Church’s concern. Mercy is even the core of his reform campaign — the idea that good government is about making an institution serve its people.
It’s not empirically obvious that Pope Francis has created a more merciful Catholic Church, or that mercy has taken hold to any greater degree in the wider world because of his example. There’s legitimate ground for skepticism that mercy can serve as the basis of a complex multinational religious organization. The drama of the Francis era, however, is surely contained in the effort to make mercy the key — and whether Francis will prove tough enough to make that message stick.