A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Monday, December 20, 2004

Knowing who you are

We often hear in the news about people who are talented, beautiful, rich, and famous and whose lives are train wrecks: addicted and/or dying from alcohol and/or drugs, divorced, or even committing suicide. The real-life subject of a current motion picture from Hollywood, for instance, was an incredibly rich, famous, handsome, and talented man who ended up a wretched, paranoid hermit in a dark penthouse.

Invariably these people have been so overwhelmed by the glory of their lives that they have lost touch with who they really are: their fundamental sense of self-identity, the anchor of their personal consciousness.

For most of us, the nitty-gritty necessities of our daily responsibilities help us keep our feet on the ground, yet even we can be overwhelmed by the innumerable “little” things of life and feel that we have lost touch with who we are.

In today’s Gospel we have the immensely familiar account of the Annunciation in which "the Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary" that she would give birth to Christ. It sometimes takes a special effort to peel away the accumulation of beautiful art and devotion regarding that transcendent moment in order to feel afresh the human reality that is also there.

Imagine: a young girl – barely a teenager – sees an angel from God (reputedly a sign of doom) who says incredibly good things about her. If a teenage girl today can be totally awestruck by a smile from a boy on the school football team, imagine how overwhelming these heavenly compliments might have been.

Then the angel goes on to talk about things that will happen to Mary that are absolutely beyond imagination: that she will conceive a son without having relations, that the Holy Spirit will overshadow her, and that her son will be the Son of God.

All of this, dropped suddenly out of the sky, is really too much for a person to process easily even as a philosophical matter, let alone as something that involves the rest of your life and that at this moment puts you literally at the center of the Universe.

But Mary is unshakably grounded. She knows who she is and that knowledge keeps her calm and steady as the pivotal moment of all Time is thrust upon her.

"I am the handmaid of the Lord."

We ourselves may sometimes feel desperately the need for the peace and steadiness that Mary showed at that moment.

We need to pray for God’s grace, that our hearts, minds, and lives may become ever more perfectly aligned with God’s will, so that no matter how overwhelming our lives may be or what choices we may face, we may enjoy the immeasurable peace of saying with the deepest truth,

"I am the servant of the Lord."