Thursday, March 26, 2009


Yesterday was the feast of the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel came and announced to the Virgin Mary that she would be the mother of the Messiah, the son of God. She probed a little, to understand what he was telling her, and then acquiesced to this crazy plan without reservation.
"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."
The Annunciation is the first of the mysteries of the Rosary. One of the traditions around the Rosary (which you can see at the link) is to name a virtue as the fruit of each of the mysteries. For the Annunciation, the associated virtue is humility. Do you find it at all odd that humility should be connected with the announcement to a teenage girl that she has been chosen for the most outrageously immense honor possible for a woman of her nation? One that her whole people has been waiting for, yearning for, for centuries? An angel has just appeared to her and told her that she is going to be the mother of GOD's son, who will be king and savior of the world! How does this engender humility??

Is it that we are supposed to feel humbled by comparison to this "most highly favored" lady? Maybe, although I don't find that very satisfying.... I guess the original intent is lost in the mists of ancient tradition, which is kind of nice, actually -- it allows us to make of it what we will, and so keeps it fresh. So about 20 years ago, I was praying the Rosary one day, and found a different meaning for the connection between the Annunciation and humility, not in contrast but in identification with the blessed virgin.

When we are presented with a great honor, are we more likely to react with pride or with humility? You'd think pride, but think again ... think about a REALLY big honor ... think, how did (or would) it make you feel that the person you most love in the world wants to be your spouse? What if a friend asks you to sit with her at her deathbed, because she always feels more peaceful when she's been with you? What about being asked by a member of your congregation to be their RCIA sponsor (for an adult coming into the church), or godparent to their child -- not because you're a close friend, but because you stand out as a really good, godly person who they want to be (or their child to be) influenced by? What if you were asked to speak at your child's high school graduation, not because you're famous, but because the other kids and their parents have so much respect and admiration for you?

Would you be proud? Or humbled? OK, maybe a little of both, but honestly -- doesn't it take a huge dose of humility to accept a really great honor? One that, maybe, you don't feel worthy of? I mean, who could feel herself worthy to be the mother of the Incarnation of God? Who could believe herself capable of containing God in her body, in her womb? Or even if she didn't understand that the child himself was God incarnate, even if she just thought he was destined to redeem his people from the oppression of the Roman Empire -- who feels worthy to raise a child to that destiny? A young working-class girl from a podunk town like Nazareth? She had to be humbled by that!

As should we all be humbled by the Annunciation, by the whole mystery of the Incarnation. The whole point is that we're NOT worthy, there's no way we could ever be worthy of the incredible sacrifice God made for our sake --- and we don't HAVE to be worthy! He does it anyway, because He loves us, He loves us freely and lavishly and insistently. And if THAT's not humbling, then I don't know what is! An honor like that makes you want to live up to it, doesn't it?

Many blessings to all who come across this journal.
Regina Terrae


  1. Hi Regina,

    I have always been the kind of person who could not handle a compliment. I love compliments (then again, who doesn't) but I just never know how to react. I say thank you and then I turn all pink and tongue tied.

    In my eyes, I just try to do my best in any situation. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I just want to have a clear conscience.

    Hope all is well with you!

  2. I agree: God's love is humbling!