As the feast of the Annunciation fell on Palm Sunday, we gently shifted it to the Monday after the Octave of Easter. When we celebrate the Annunciation, we gaze with awe into the yet empty and virginal womb. A flare of light broke the first nothingness. A supercharged flash burst the tomb. The tiny blaze struck off the flint ignited the Easter Vigil. A cosmos-transforming spark struck from Mary’s “Yes” brought our Creator to us physically. Our humanity was from then and forever on caught up into an indestructible bond with divinity. No longer called only Light from Light, Eternal Son of the Father, He is now called “Jesus”. At this mystery’s mention we bend our knees at Mass.
Venerable Fulton Sheen draws a line between the First Word of Christ on the Cross and annunciate Mary’s first response to Gabriel the announcing Angel. Christ called for forgiveness, because his tormentors did “not know”. Mary the Virgin requested an explanation, because she did “not know”. Sheen says this ignorance was not the ignorance of truth, but rather ignorance of evil. Granted, Mary’s ignorance and that of Christ’s killers concern markedly different types of knowledge. Sheen, however, goes on to say that knowing things, always more things about everything, is not in itself better than not knowing. As he wrote: “Never before has there been so much education and never before so little coming to the knowledge of the truth. We forget that ignorance is better than error. Scientia is not sapientia (knowledge is not wisdom).”
The world’s wisdom is foolishness (1 Corinthians 3:19) and some worldly knowledge, which is not from above, is actually demonic (James 3:15).
Speaking of the modern need to know simply everything (other, apparently, than what really counts), it may be that much of what troubles and roils the Church today, and therefore society beyond our churches’ doors, comes from the loss of a sense of mystery and transcendence in our sacred liturgical worship. Mary, the perfect model of Christian prayer, pondered the mysteries she encountered in silence and treasured them in her heart.
In an age when we can see in high definition and slow motion the individual threads in the stitches of a bowled ball, it could be that making everything so basic in our worship that nothing is left to desire and to ponder has snuffed the sparks of mystery, which over time transform.
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