Five Minutes on Friday #52



“The church has lighted my way.  Instead of struggling through a wilderness I have had a road – a road to virtue and truth.  Only a road – the road to an end, not the end itself – the road to truth, not the fullness of truth….In one word, she [the church] has taught me how to seek God.”      [Maude Dominica Petre in All Saints, 547]


The winds were scornful,
Passing by;
And gathering Angels 
Wondered why

A burdened Mother 
Did not mind 
That only animals 
Were kind.

For who in all the world 
Could guess 
That God would search out 

Cyril Robert, Mary Immaculate: God's Mother and Mine. New York: Marist Press, 1946.

SUNDAY – Advent Four

Scripture:  Isaiah 7.10-17; Luke 1.46-55

This week I invite you to reflect on the Christmas story through two paintings.

Sandro Botticelli - ANNUNCIATION

Note that Gabriel kneels to Mary.  The mother of the Lord is not lower than the angels.  Mary’s face and her body language bring out the conflict of her emotions.  She is afraid, welcoming, retreating, concerned, puzzled.  Gently, the angel kneels, not encroaching on her space (she stays behind the white lines).  Gabriel gazes up at the young woman determined not to frighten her.  Only the hands, angelic and human, begin to reach toward each other.  Mary is half-turned away, and yet also attentive; her hand is partly fending off the angel and partly welcoming.  Her facial expression indicates her uncertainty. *


Roger van der Weyden - VISITATION


Here is the moment (Luke 1.40) when Mary and Elizabeth meet.  The older woman is bent forward by the energy of the kicking child in her womb; there is a tenderness in her lined face as she looks at the young woman beside her, so vulnerable and innocent.  She praises Mary for her courage and faith and gives her the most precious affirmation – her unborn child will serve Mary’s child.  The meeting here sets up a pattern in Luke’s Gospel:  Kings and rulers are seldom seen and when they are seen they understand nothing.  Peasant women will follow Jesus and be the first witnesses to the resurrection. *

*I have drawn on Jane Williams, The Art of Christmas for some of these comments.

**For a clearer view of these paintings I invite you to look up the paintings on Google which will provide more detail to the image.