Happy Solemnity of the Annunciation!

hb_1973.311.2What a joyous event we celebrate today!  Mary said, “Yes” to God’s plan and God the Son became incarnate in her womb.

We have a sung Mass tonight at Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary because this is also our feast of title.

In other news,  I am nearing completion of the paper I promised for a book that will be published in the fall marking the ten years since Anglicanorum coetibus.  Thus, I expect I will be able to return to more frequent blogging.

During the penitential season of Lent, we focus on repentance and on dying to self as we approach Easter.

Our Anglican tradition —in our mass and our offices—does a beautiful job of keeping us aware of our need for mercy, of our status as “miserable offenders,” and our utter dependence upon God for His grace.

Sometimes, however, I wonder if we run a danger of living too much in Romans 7. 

14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

What in our tradition helps us to fully grasp the truth that we have been translated from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Light?  That we are new creations in Christ?  That we have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us be more than conquerors through Christ?  That we must keep a healthy tension between the awareness of ourselves as sinners in need of grace at the same time as we trust in God’s promises regarding the new nature He has given us, including the gifts of the Spirit.

How much do we fall prey to the world’s thinking that one is stamped with an identity and consequently change is impossible?   We see so much of this thinking in politics, where opposition research digs up old videos or speeches or creative writing exercises as a “Gotcha!” to prove the politician is a hypocrite or untrustworthy, no matter how many years have passed, or how that individual has matured or disavowed youthful indiscretions.

I remember someone warning me about another a journalist who allegedly had a problem with pornography.  I discovered later the journalist had given a testimony of his life prior to returning to the Catholic faith and it included pornography among the sins he had engaged in during that time he was lost in a sinful lifestyle.  What he had shared was something from decades previously.  I  came to know this man as a joyful, happy warrior with a deep Catholic faith, a beautiful marriage and lots of children.  In other words, he was no longer in bondage to the sins of his youth and had been free for a long time.  I  discovered the person who warned me against him was using detraction to destroy this man’s reputation and was himself in bondage to sin of his own.

So,  as we move closer to Easter, let’s renounce any and all sin, even the subtle little ones that give us a frisson of moral superiority in judging others, in entertaining a critical spirit, in gossip and detraction.   Let’s move from Romans 7 to Romans 8.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.



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