Redemption

The Alpha and the Omega: The Providential Co-incidence Of Good Friday Falling on March 25th, the Solemnity of the Annunciation

christ_the_bridegroom_teaser-large_featureby Jayson Brunelle

In this Year of Mercy, 2016, Our Lord and Our Lady have brought it about that on March 25th, which is the fixed celebration of the Solemnity of the Annunciation and, by extension, is a celebration of the very beginning of Christ’s salvific work, we will additionally celebrate Good Friday, which is the solemn celebration of the definitive completion of Christ’s work of redemption.  Thus, on March 25th, we shall simultaneously celebrate the beginning and the end of Christ’s work of Redemption – the truest celebration of Christ as the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  Let us take a few moments to ponder this stupendous reality.

The key here is that the Solemnity of the Annunciation is a celebration of the Incarnation, whereby Christ definitively begins His work of the Redemption of humanity: that is, as the Eternally Begotten Son of the Father, the Eternal Word, He unites a true human nature to His Divine Nature, thereby initiating the reconciliation of God and man in his very Person! This perfect union of the Divine and human natures of Christ is referred to as the Hypostatic union. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “Hypostasis means, literally, that which lies beneath as basis or foundation. Hence it came to be used by the Greek philosophers to denote reality as distinguished from appearances (Aristotle, “Mund.”, IV, 21)… [T]he Council of Chalcedon (451)…declared that in Christ the two natures, each retaining its own properties, are united in one subsistence and one person (eis en prosopon kai mian hypostasin) (Denzinger, ed. Bannwart, 148). They are not joined in a moral or accidental union (Nestorius), nor commingled (Eutyches), and nevertheless they are substantially united.”

In other words, Christ becomes human in order that humans might become divinized!

The stupendous reality that this Solemnity providentially co-incides with the solemn celebration of the Passion, which is the Church’s official commemoration of the painful, bloody completion of the work of human Redemption, wrought by Christ, only underscores and drives home the profound and necessary union that exists between these two Solemnities; the Annunciation, which is the beginning of this Work, and the Passion, which is the culmination of it.

Moreover, we would be remiss were we not to consider the cooperation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in each of these pivotal events of our Redemption. At the Annunciation, Mary gave her unconditional “fiat” to the Father through His messenger, the Archangel Gabriel, and thus consented to becoming the Theotokos, or, the “God-bearer.” Moreover, Mary stood at the foot of her Son’s cross as He endured the painful hours of His agony on the Cross.

Regarding Mary’s unique participation in the Redemption of humanity with Christ, Lumen Gentium, the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, has this to say in its final chapter:

“The predestination of the Blessed Virgin as Mother of God was associated with the incarnation of the divine word: in the designs of divine Providence she was the gracious mother of the divine Redeemer here on earth, and above all others and in a singular way the generous associate and humble handmaid of the Lord. She conceived, brought forth, and nourished Christ, she presented him to the Father in the temple, shared her Son’s sufferings as he died on the cross. Thus, in a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the work of the Savior in restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason, she is a mother to us in the order of grace.

“This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. [15] By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home. Therefore, the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix. [16] This, however, is so understood that it neither takes away anything from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficacy of Christ the one Mediator. [17]” (Lumen Gentium, Ch. 8).

Let us, then, hasten to take full advantage of this grace filled Triduum – particularly, Good Friday – to meditate on the profundity of what both Christ and Our Lady have done for us, and continue to do for us, if only we allow them to.

At Mass with Mary

By Anonymous (Russia) (Walters Art Museum:  Home page  Info about artwork) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Anonymous (Russia) (Walters Art Museum: Home page Info about artwork) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By John Sexton Kennedy, Catholic Truth Society

A glory of new stars, downward flung And forged into seven swords, has stung The heart of the Woman whom I pass On my way to the altar for morning Mass. There is no shrill crowd, there are no hoarse cries, But I meet One bearing a cross in her eyes. – JOHN SEXTON KENNEDY

Those people who twenty centuries ago were present on Calvary because they hated Jesus Christ paid more attention to the sacrifice of the cross than do most of us who are Sunday after Sunday present at Mass because we love Jesus Christ. This is a fact at once startling and sobering. At the beginning of each week we and many, many like us take our places before a thousand altars, and, as the great Action wherein Christ intended that we should, each of us, intensively participate, proceeds, we stand, kneel, sit absently. For us the Mass remains the measured movements, the mystifying mumblings of a remote, brightly clad figure. And so we are paupers in the midst of plenty, drought-ruined in a land of living waters; we miss the full worth of this unique means of best paying our debts to God, this unique means too of best building up and improving our poor, uncertain lives. What are we to do? Methods of hearing Mass well are numerous. Some have been explained to us. We have found them involved, almost baffling. What is most difficult is to keep well focused the basic truth that the Sacrifice of the Mass is really the same sacrifice as that of Calvary. In the absence of glittering spears, strained and distorted faces, hideous cries, a grim cross we utterly forget that we attend the crucifixion of Christ. Could we but sufficiently appreciate the fact, our problem of keeping attentive, devout at Mass would be solved. As a means to this end, a means not indeed perfect but if earnestly tried quite effective, we are suggesting the effort to hear Mass with Mary. The lessons which we can learn from Our Blessed Lady are quite beyond numbering; none of them is simpler or of greater value than that of worthy assistance at holy Mass. Herein we shall consider first the thorough excellence of Mary’s following of the first Mass, and then the value to us of her exceptional example. (more…)