The Joy Of The Incarnation
“I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be to me according to your Word" (Luke 1:38).
A new year has begun; resolutions professed will be broken, but hopes in every day promises originate from our Heavenly and Eternal Father!
The first prophecy of a coming Messiah was not made to either the man or the woman, but to the serpent: "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel" (Genesis 3:15).
“Mary and Eve” is an image created by Cistercian Sister Grace Remington from the Mississippi Abbey. Her drawing represents the significant relationship between Eve and the “New Eve” in the Blessed Virgin Mary. It reveals darkness in “the fall” and the victory over it with God’s plan of salvation in the birth of Jesus. The Church celebrates Jan. 1 as the Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord. In 1969, a revision of the liturgical calendar year specifies: “January 1, the Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord, is the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.”
In 1954, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Pius XII proclaimed the first “Marian Year” in Church history. In 1987, Pope John Paul II, as a way of preparing for the Third Millennium of Christianity, published Redemptoris Mater, the longest Marian encyclical ever written by a Pontiff. To celebrate the beginning of the 21st century, a large copy of the Madonna was completed outside St. Peter’s Square. The second “Marian Year” was officially announced on Jan. 1, 1987, in Pope John Paul II’s New Year’s Day Mass. This 14-month Marian year began on June 7, 1987, the Feast of Pentecost, and closed on Aug. 15, 1988, the Feast of the Assumption.
The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) made clear that from the earliest times the Blessed Virgin is honored under the title of Mother of God; and in the Council’s closing message more than 50 years ago it stated: “The hour is coming, in fact, has come, when the vocation of women is being acknowledged in its fullness, the hour in which women acquire in the world an influence, an effect and a power hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment when the human race is undergoing a deep transformation, women imbued with a spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling.”
In early February, I am hosting a retreat for the “Gabriel Project Angels” of Sts. Francis and Clare Parish in Greenwood, Ind. Women in this ministry live the Gospel message every day by helping with crisis pregnancies and offering ultrasound images to those considering abortion. The feminine strength shared by these volunteers is quite different than the role of women played out with secular feminism today. The study guide used for the retreat came from an Apostolic Letter of Saint Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the Marian Year titled “The Dignity and Vocation of Women.”
Understanding what the Church says about the true dignity of women is important. Contemplating Mary and the mystery of her Divine Motherhood and the salvific role she plays is really no mystery at all. The prophetic roles of Mary from Old Testament Genesis to New Testament reveal accounts of the birth, mission, dying and rising of Jesus, and her “yes” made it possible. The Holy Family is God’s plan for life, love, faith, family, man and woman. This gift should be our goal in life ---according to the “Word” of God! Saint Pope John Paul II pray for us! Amen!