Tuesday, December 24, 2019

With Mary in Stillness

Mary, the undefiled handmaid of the Lord: her message is the feminine willingness to receive and to conceive.... ‘The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin. She was betrothed to a man named Joseph of the House of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. The angel entered and said, “Hail to thee, full of grace . . .!” ’ This is one of the stellar moments in world history – for here and at this spot and in the fullest sense the presence of God began indeed. Here in truth ‘Advent’ came about. But let us be aware that this stellar moment in world history was at the same time one of its quietist moments. A moment overlooked, not reported in any newspaper nor mentioned in any magazine; nor would it have been reported if such means had then been known. What we are told here is therefore first and foremost a mystery of stillness. What is truly great grows outside the limelight; and stillness at the right time is more fruitful than constant busyness, which degenerates all too easily into mindless busywork. All of us, in this era when public life is being more and more Americanized, are in the grip of a peculiar restlessness, which suspects any quietness of being a waste of time, any stillness of being a sign of missing out on something. Every ounce of time is being measured and weighed, and thus we become oblivious to the true mystery of time, the true mystery of growing and becoming: stillness. It is the same in the area of religion, where all our hopes and expectations rest on what we do; where we, through all kinds of exercises and activities, painstakingly avoid facing the true mystery of inner growth toward God. And yet, in the area of religion, what we receive is at least as important as what we do.” 

Piermatteo d'Amelia (about 1450 - 1508), The Annunciation, about 1487, tempera on panel, 40 5/16 x 45 3/16 in., The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston. Lines by Pope Benedict XVI