|Ali at the Chapel of the Annunciation, Nazareth (27 Sept 2005)|
In a recent post I mentioned that I did not know how to pray the rosary until Ali taught me at the age of 23. She taught me as we returned from Lourdes, on the trip that led to my staying with her in Dorset. Though born and raised a Catholic I did not 'get' the role of Mary. I had been to Lourdes on two occasions, 5-6 years before I went with Ali in 1989, but I neither understood the role of Mary nor prayed the rosary. The night we left Lourdes, Friday 28 July 1989, Ali was somewhat distressed (which I'll write about another time). Later, she calmed down and, as she spoke quietly, I was struck by the profundity of her knowledge of and acceptance of the Catholic faith - even though she was not then a Catholic. One phrase - a very simple phrase - stood out for me. Ali expressed a truth that I had not known until then - in spite of all my years of attending Catholic schools and Masses, etc. - when she said very simply: "Mary said 'yes' and saved the world." The words hit me profoundly and etched themselves on my mind, dominating my thoughts in the following days.
In September 2005, during our first and only pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Ali and I visited the place where that 'yes' was uttered. We traveled by car to Nazareth and, not being part of a larger group, were able to visit the Chapel of the Annunciation (within the large Basilica of the Annunciation) and spend a considerable time alone there pondering on Mary's 'yes' which saved the world. The Chapel is the place of Mary's 'yes' and of the Incarnation of the Son of Jesus, hence the inscription on the altar: "Verbum caro hic factum est" (Here the Word was made flesh). Jesus took flesh directly as a result of Mary's 'yes'. He is the Saviour of the World. But without Mary's 'yes' we would have no Saviour.
Today the Church celebrates the great feast of the Annunciation. The Church immerses herself in the mystery of the angel Gabriel's revelation to Mary, her 'yes,' and the Incarnation of the Son of God as a zygote and developing embryo. It is a celebration of the awesomeness of human life from its very beginning, and of the redemption and eternal life that God desires for each of us. Whether natural or eternal, may we always be willing to say 'yes' to life and God's will for us.
|27 Sept 2005: Chapel of the Annunciation, Nazareth|
|27 Sept 2005: Ali outside the Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth|