The Annunciation/ March 25th

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nick cobb

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Mar 23, 2004, 10:52:15 PM3/23/04
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The Annunciation (March 25)

The Annunciation! At one time, this was one of the brightest and most
joyful days of the year, the feast which consciously, and even
unconsciously, was connected with a jubilant intuition, a radiant vision
of the world and of life. The Gospel of Luke records the story of the
Annunciation.

[The] angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named
Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the
house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and
said, "Rejoice, 0 favored one, the Lord is with you! Blessed are you
among women!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying and considered
in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to
her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And
behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you
shall call his name Jesus..." And Mary said to the angel, "How shall
this be, since I have no husband?" And the angel said to her, "The Holy
Spirit will come Upon you, and the power of the Most High will
overshadow you: therefore the child to he born will he called holy, the
Son of God... For with God nothing will be impossible.'' And Mary said.
"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according
to your word." And the angel departed from her. (Lk : 26-35)

Of course, viewed from the perspective of so-called "scientific" atheism
this Gospel story supplies plenty of reasons for speaking of "myths and
legends." The rationalist will say, "When do angels ever appear to young
women and hold conversations with them? Do believers really think that
people of the twentieth century, living in a techno1ogial
civilization, could believe this? Can't believers see just how silly,
unscientific and impossible this is?" The believer always has only one
answer to this kind of contentious debate, disparagement and ridicule:
yes, alas, it is impossible to fit this into your shallow worldview. As
long as your arguments about God and religion remain on the superficial
level of chemical experiments and mathematical formulas you will always
easily win. But chemistry and mathematics are of no help whatsoever in
proving or disproving anything at all in the realm of God and religion.
In the language of your science, the words angel, glad tidings, joy and
humility are of course completely meaningless. But why limit the
discussion to religion? More than half of all words are incomprehensible
to your rationalistic language, and therefore in addition to religion
you will have to suppress all poetry, literature, philosophy and
virtually the whole of human imagination You desire the entire world to
think as you do, in terms of production and economic forces, of
collectives and programs. Yet the world does not naturally think in this
way and must he handcuffed and forced to do so, or rather, appear to do
so. You say that all imagination is false because the "imaginary" does
not exist, and yet the imagination is what people have always lived by,
live by now, and will in the future as well. For everything most
profound and most essential in life has always been expressed in the
language of imagination.

I don't pretend to understand what an angel is, nor, using the limited
language of rationalism, can I explain the event that occurred almost
two thousand years ago in a tiny Galilean town. But it strikes me that
man-kind has never forgotten this story, that these few verses have
repeatedly been incorporated into countless paintings, poems and
prayers, and that they have inspired and continue to inspire. This
means, of course, that people heard something infinitely important to
them in these words, some truth which apparently could be expressed in
no other way than in the childish, joyful language of Luke's Gospel.
What is this truth? What happened when the young woman, barely past
childhood, suddenly heard-from what profound depth, from what
transcendent height!-that wonderful greeting: "Rejoice!" For that
is indeed the angel's message to Mary: Rejoice!

The world is filled with countless books on struggle and competition,
each attempting to show that the road to happiness is hatred, and in
none of them will you find the word "joy." People don't even know what
the word means. But the very same joy announced by the angel remains a
pulsating force, that still has power to startle and shake human hearts.
Go into a church on the eve of Annunciation. Stay, wait through the long
service as it slowly unfolds. Then the moment comes when after the long
wait, softly, with such divinely exquisite beauty the choir begins to
sing the familiar festal hymn,

"With the voice of the Archangel, we cry to You, 0 Pure One: Rejoice, 0
Full of Grace, the Lord is with You!"

Hundreds and hundreds of years have gone by, and still, as we hear this
invitation to rejoice, joy fills our heart in a wave of warmth. But what
is this joy about? Above all we rejoice in the very presence of this
woman herself, whose face, whose image, is known throughout the world,
who gazes upon us from icons, and who became one of the most sublime and
purest figures of art and human imagination. We rejoice in her response
to the angel, to her faithfulness, purity, wholeness, to her total
self-giving and boundless humility, all of which forever ring out in her
words: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according
to your word." Tell me, is anything in this world, in any of its rich
and complex history, more sublime and more beautiful than this one human
being? Mary, the Most Pure One, the One who is Full of Grace, is truly
the One in whom, as the Church sings, "all Creation rejoices." The
Church answers the lie about man, the lie that reduces him to earth and
appetite, to baseness and brutality, the lie that says he is permanently
enslaved to the immutable and impersonal laws of nature, by pointing to
the image of Mary, the most-pure Mother of God, the One to whom, in the
words of a Russian poet, "the outpouring of sweetest human tears from
overflowing hearts" is offered in unending stream. The lie continues to
pervade the world, but we rejoice because here, in the image of Mary,
the lie is shown for what it is. We rejoice with delight and wonder, for
this image is always with us as comfort and encouragement, as
inspiration and help. We rejoice because in gazing at this image, it is
SO easy to believe in the heavenly beauty of the world and in man's
heavenly, transcendent calling. The joy of Annunciation is about the
angel's Glad Tidings, that the people had found grace with God and that
soon, very soon, through her, through this totally unknown Galilean
woman, God would begin to fulfill the mystery of the world's redemption.
There would be no thunder and no fear in His presence, but He would come
to her in the joy and fullness of childhood. Through her a Child will
now be King: a Child, weak, defenseless, yet through Him all the powers
of evil are to be forever stripped of power.

This is what we celebrate on the Annunciation and why the feast has
always been, and remains, so joyful and radiant. But I repeat, none of
this can be understood or expressed in the limited categories and
language familiar to "scientific" atheism, which leads us to conclude
that this approach willfully and arbitrarily has declared an entire
dimension of human experience to be non-existent, unnecessary and
dangerous, along with all the words and concepts used to express that
experience. To debate this approach strictly on its own terms would be
like first climbing down into a black underground pit where, because the
sky can't be seen, its existence is denied. The sun can't be seen, and
so there is no sun. All is dirty, repulsive, and dark, and so beauty is
unknown and its existence denied. It is a place where joy is impossible,
and so everyone is hostile and sad. But if you leave the pit and climb
out, you suddenly find yourself in the midst of a resoundingly joyful
church where once again you hear,

"With the voice of the Archangel, we cry to You, 0 Pure One: Rejoice!"

[Taken from, "Celebration of Faith" Sermons, Vol. 3 "The Virgin Mary" by
the late Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann, SVS Press, 1995. Available
at: 800-204-book]

Cunneen

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Mar 24, 2004, 12:48:12 AM3/24/04
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Nice message. Too bad you don't post more of these and less radical politics.

Mike Craney

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Mar 24, 2004, 7:35:39 AM3/24/04
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"Cunneen" <cun...@aol.com> wrote in message
news:20040324004812...@mb-m02.aol.com...

> >
> >"With the voice of the Archangel, we cry to You, 0 Pure One: Rejoice!"
> >
> >[Taken from, "Celebration of Faith" Sermons, Vol. 3 "The Virgin Mary" by
> >the late Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann, SVS Press, 1995. Available
> >at: 800-204-book]
>
>
> Nice message. Too bad you don't post more of these and less radical
politics.

Yea, it's kind of like there are two Nicks...........

Hm.

Mike


nick cobb

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Mar 24, 2004, 2:19:56 PM3/24/04
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"Radical politics?" Didn't know that citing objective facts about the
failures of the Bush administration was "radical politics." Oh, I get
it, radical politics for YOU!


cun...@aol.com (Cunneen) wrote in message

digimortal

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Mar 24, 2004, 5:59:39 PM3/24/04
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You mean when the true date was around Hannukah, the Festival of Light!

"nick cobb" <ni...@cris.com> wrote in message
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Al Green

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Mar 26, 2004, 7:25:20 AM3/26/04
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Well, have you ever criticized a Democrat? I seem to rememberr you making
excuses for Clinton and his special humidore!

"nick cobb" <ni...@cris.com> wrote in message

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digimortal

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Mar 27, 2004, 6:29:42 AM3/27/04
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Why on earth is such a happy holiday still a fast day and celebrated during
lent??

nick cobb

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Mar 27, 2004, 3:26:40 PM3/27/04
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You must not be Orthodox or don't understand Orthodox liturgical
worship in the context of feast and fasting. Get the book listed below
and read: "Great Lent" by the late Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann.
800-204-book.

"digimortal" <digim...@starpower.net> wrote in message news:<40656515$0$3054$61fe...@news.rcn.com>...

digimortal

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Mar 27, 2004, 7:49:24 PM3/27/04
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Yes I am Orthodox but don't always agree with certain things that are done
or the reasons they are done or lack thereof...

"nick cobb" <ni...@cris.com> wrote in message

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nick cobb

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Mar 27, 2004, 9:48:56 PM3/27/04
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OK, the Feast of the Annunciation is 9 months before the date of
Christ's Birth (justation period). This happens to fall during Great
Lent. So, the feast is a major feast of the church. Lenten fasting takes
a respite with regard to the feast. Wine and oil are permitted, but not
meat and dairy.

digimortal

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Mar 28, 2004, 5:11:05 AM3/28/04
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Well we all know Christ was not really born on Dec 25th so we know the
Annunciation was not really now. Nevertheless, if it is a major feast why
is there ANY fasting?

"nick cobb" <ni...@cris.com> wrote in message

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Al

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Mar 29, 2004, 1:21:48 PM3/29/04
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nick cobb <ni...@cris.com> wrote in message news:<s2r9c.45249$um5....@newssvr16.news.prodigy.com>...

> OK, the Feast of the Annunciation is 9 months before the date of
> Christ's Birth (justation period).

***Er..."gestation"!!!

Al

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Mar 29, 2004, 1:23:49 PM3/29/04
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"Feast Day" does not necessarily refer to food...but to the Joyfulness
of the event being commemorated.

(But you knew this, didn't you??)

"digimortal" <digim...@starpower.net> wrote in message news:<4066a426$0$3040$61fe...@news.rcn.com>...

digimortal

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Mar 29, 2004, 6:57:28 PM3/29/04
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However food is almost ALWAYS an integral part of it...(but you already knew
that didn't you?).

"Al" <aggr...@netscape.net> wrote in message
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Al

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Mar 30, 2004, 3:34:15 PM3/30/04
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***Fish, wine, and oil! Big whoop! That's a feast? <G>

***It seems that when feast days fall during fasts, the fast prevails
unless there's a slight relaxation as on the "Feast" of the
Annunciation.

Al

"digimortal" <digim...@starpower.net> wrote in message news:<4068b754$0$3052$61fe...@news.rcn.com>...

digimortal

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Mar 30, 2004, 6:11:50 PM3/30/04
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If it is a major feast here should be NO fasting...it is hypocritical
otherwise.

"Al" <aggr...@netscape.net> wrote in message

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digimortal

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Mar 30, 2004, 6:13:10 PM3/30/04
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If some of these feastdays were on the correct day in the correct season
(this one is a good example), we would not need to have this conversation...

"Al" <aggr...@netscape.net> wrote in message

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Al

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Mar 31, 2004, 7:39:36 AM3/31/04
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True enough. But this is of little importance to me and, apparently,
to The Church. The event, not the time of year, is what is
commemorated.

"digimortal" <digim...@starpower.net> wrote in message news:<4069fe70$0$3075$61fe...@news.rcn.com>...

digimortal

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Apr 1, 2004, 4:25:31 AM4/1/04
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Time of the year is VERY important...pascha was never in the fall...God's
plan is based on seasons...

Al

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Apr 1, 2004, 12:48:36 PM4/1/04
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Then why do you stay in the Orthodox Church if it does things so
wrong? Find a Church that suits you better...or start your own.


"digimortal" <digim...@starpower.net> wrote in message news:<406bdf75$0$3075$61fe...@news.rcn.com>...

digimortal

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Apr 1, 2004, 6:54:26 PM4/1/04
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Because it is the closest thing in most other ways. I understand and follow
feasts correctly at home. None are perfect...

"Al" <aggr...@netscape.net> wrote in message

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