Wedding Bells


Every so often we go to the evening Mass at the Little Flower Basilica, and during Mass the ringing of the 6pm Angelus bells can be heard.  What’s striking is how much the sound is like the peal of wedding bells, so loud, so joyful.  The truth is, every time the Angelus bells ring it is calling to mind a wedding:  when heaven was wedded to earth in the womb of the Virgin Mary

The Word is joined to flesh;The Word is wedded to flesh, and the bridal chamber of this exalted marriage is your womb.  Let me repeat, the bridal chamber of this exalted marriage between the Word and the flesh is your womb, whence “He, the Bridegroom, goes forth from His bridal chamber”.

St. Augustine

Now, the bridal chamber of this Bridegroom was the womb of the Virgin Mother. That is why the Psalmist says, “He has set His tabernacle in the sun: and He is as a Bridegroom coming out of His bridal chamber” (Ps. 18:6). And it was as a Bridegroom in fact that He came forth from His bridal chamber, because to unite the Church to Himself, the Incarnate God went forth from the inviolate womb of the Virgin.

Pope St. Gregory the Great

The Incarnation is the defining moment of Christianity.  It sets us apart from every other religion, and shapes everything about our world view.  God Himself entered into time, into this created world, and in doing so, transformed and sanctified everything.  Because of the  Incarnation our joys and our sufferings are made fruitful, because we can unite them to the joys and sufferings Christ experienced during His earthly life.  God not only created the world and all that is in it, He wanted to dwell in it bodily, to be close to us, to redeem us.

When Pope Francis spoke to the priests of Rome on Holy Thursday, he urged them to be “shepherds with the odour of sheep,” taking their cue from Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who lived in the midst of His “sheep” before laying down His life for them.

Today’s feast of the Annunciation recalls the beginning of our salvation, the moment longed for by generations, when the promised Messiah would come to save His people.  God didn’t just force Himself on us, He wanted our cooperation.  He found it in Our Lady’s fiat, when, trusting in God’s message through the angel Gabriel, the humble Virgin of Nazareth uttered the words that tore heaven open and drew God to earth: Be it done unto me according to thy word.

When one day is simply not enough

adamevechristHow can our poor minds even begin to understand the enormity of Easter, called by early Christians ‘The Feast of Feasts’.

The wonder and joy of Easter cannot be contained in one day, it must spill out into many
days of celebration!  The Church shows us just how important and central to our faith this feast is, by mandating a full Octave (from the Latin word octava, eight) of celebration.  Christmas is the only other feast that does so.  Eight days of celebrating!

Those of us who pray the Divine office pray the same psalms of Easter Sunday for eight days to underscore this wonderful truth.

As our brothers and sisters in the Jewish faith celebrate the Feast of Passover for seven days, as commanded by God to Moses in Exodus, we as Christians, can do no less on this solemn sacred Feast of Easter, and in fact,we take it one step further, one day further.

The Church Fathers speak of the number seven as the ‘total of temporal existence’.  The great Saint Augustine speaks of the eighth day of the octave as ‘taking us out of time and into eternity’.  Jesus leads us into that eternity, into that eternal light.  Each day gives us the opportunity to live with our Lord in that eternal reality, being in the world, but not of it.  As Adam was pulled from his prison of darkness into the light by the very Author of Light, the New Adam, we too are freed to walk in that Light of truth and grace, we can live in that eternal reality in a very authentic way, each and every day.

As the Octave takes us into rest of the fifty days of this Easter season, let us really rejoice in the true knowledge of a very real hope, the hope and joy only Jesus can bring!