I want to thank everyone for the beautiful Annunciation high mass this past Tuesday evening. The choir, acolytes, servers, and altar guild worked very hard to create this celebratory liturgy for the parish. This day is especially a challenge for the Altar Guild, for everything changes from purple to white and then immediately back to purple again. The choir also did a splendid job, and their anthem in the garden before the Mary statue was superb. For those walking down Kapahulu Avenue enjoying the nightlife, they were serenaded by the choir's music as the congregation's candles glowed in the night. I was overjoyed to discover that one acolyte literally arrived right off a plane from San Francisco in order to serve at the liturgy. She came to church before going home! We are blessed with faithful parishioners.
The Annunciation celebrates when the Angel Gabriel brought tidings to Mary that she would be the mother of God. We repeat Gabriel's words at the Angelus each day after Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer.
"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb."
Angelus is the Latin word for angel, and it has been a tradition of the church to say the Angelus three times daily - at 6:00 am, 12:00 noon and 6:00 pm. Some churches even ring a sequence of bells for the Angelus, and we have done this in the past at St. Mark's. When I was living in Buffalo, New York, the church down the street from my home used to ring the Angelus everyday at 6:00 pm. It was a wonderful reminder to stop what I was doing at that moment, be still, and say a short prayer to God giving thanks for the birth of Jesus.
As I mentioned in the sermon at the Annunciation masses this past Tuesday, the church has two cycles which run throughout the church year at the same time - the Incarnation Cycle and the Resurrection Cycle. Lent is part of the resurrection cycle, and the dates of this cycle depend on the date of Easter each year. The Annunciation is part of the Christmas or Incarnation cycle, and it has fixed dates for the most part. The Annunciation is generally celebrated nine months before Christmas Day, March 25.
The exception is when the Annunciation falls within Holy Week or Easter Week, and then this day is pushed into the Easter season. Thus, this day may sometimes be in Lent, as it was this year, or it may be within the Easter season, as it was last year. Sometimes statues may be covered for the Annunciation when the feast falls within Passion Week - the old name for the week before Holy Week; at other times the feast may be celebrated with lavish Easter alleluias. It gives the feast a wide variety of meanings and interpretations. We can ponder the incarnation with more of a Lenten focus or an Easter focus. I remember one year when March 25 was Good Friday. For those interested in the calendar, we knew that the feast would be celebrated in the near future with Easter alleluias, and yet it was also a good reminder for Good Friday that when Mary said "yes" to Gabriel's tidings, the road ahead would not be an easy journey.
We could say that the road to the cross and Easter began at the Annunciation. Because Mary said "yes" when the Angel Gabriel appeared before her, God became flesh in the life of Jesus, and hence we have been saved. In the same way, each one of us has to say "yes" to God as Mary bravely did. We are reminded to be a people who say "yes" when God calls - a people of courage to follow God's plan. God desires to dwell within each one of us so that his plan for salvation may become increasingly expansive. Hence we have yet another reason to separate ourselves from the naysayers of our world. If you have never prayed the Angelus before, you may find it below in this email.
Father Paul Lillie+