Monday, 26 March 2012

Hail, full of simplicity

It's time to put our roughly-quarterly parish pro-life newsletter together and in preparation for doing so I pulled up our last one, which was published during Advent.  The Gospel reading for that particular Sunday was the Annunciation and so the intro to the newsletter was based around it.

This being the Solemnity of the Annunication of Our Lord, it seems appropriate to share this brief editorial again, and so I have reproduced it below (in italics).  It certainly isn't theologically profound - in fact it's very simple.  However I think Our Lady herself, in all her closeness to the Lord and her spiritual insight, was also very simple.  Devoted to God, all she wanted was to do His will in all things - and having heard what His will for her was, she paused only to check she fully understood before saying, quite simply, "yes".

Perhaps today is a good chance to ponder on all the complications, justifications, hesitations and specious arguments we each put up against what - through the teaching of the Church and our own conscience - we know full well to be the will of God.  Sometimes discernment of God's will does take time; but so often we cloud the issue with countless apparent difficulties that have their roots in our own self (our selfishness, our weakness, our fear) rather than in the rights and wrongs of the situation, and then justify these difficulties to ourselves and others using all sorts of clever arguments.  Our Lady did not do this, although she must have been at least a little apprehensive about her mission!  It takes holiness to be truly simple...

Likewise, as a society we present all sorts of arguments and justifications concerning pro-life issues, when actually the truths underlying them are very simple.  Human life is a gift that we do not own, that we cannot take from others or from ourselves, and that we must never use as a means to an end.  Those three phrases cut through most of the arguments for abortion, euthanasia and embryonic experimentation.  Can we, using them, work in our society for a return to the sheer simplicity of the truth?

The Angel’s words to Our Lady heralded the conception of our Lord and Saviour in her womb.  He was no less a divine Person then, even as an embryo, than at His birth, during His childhood in Nazareth and His hidden years of working as a humble carpenter, His public ministry, His death on the Cross and His glorious, bodily Resurrection.  If the Annunciation had happened in our age, would Mary - as a teenage "unmarried" mother -  been pressured to attend an abortion clinic?  Imagine if she had done so...!

This makes the Solemnity of the Annunication the ideal occasion on which to meditate upon the sanctity of human life from conception until natural death.  We can also meditate upon the Angel’s words in this context.  You could say that Mary was “full of grace” in more than one way.  She was, of course, without sin and therefore fully imbued with God’s love and grace, to which she put up no barrier.  She was full of Grace Himself when God came to dwell within her body.  But she was also full of grace by the very fact of being a human being, made in the image of God - so full of grace and dignity, in fact, that she had to give her permission, her “fiat”, before Christ was conceived within her.

In this last sense of being full of grace, she is a sister to all of us.  We too, as human people, possess that same grace and dignity and God will not work in our lives without our own “fiat”, our Yes to His purposes.  Can we deny our unborn brothers and sisters their chance to say “yes” to God and live the life He has given them? We certainly cannot deny their dignity.  Made by God, they are full of grace from their earliest beginnings.

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