Advent Reflection Series: Incarnation

Today was the second gathering of the three-session Advent Reflection Series I am offering at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. Our first session last week focused on the meaning of Advent. Our theme for this week was Incarnation.

My talk addressed the extraordinary claim of Christianity that God becomes human. I talked about God’s decision to incarnate, using Ignatius’ contemplation of the Incarnation for the vehicle for that. I then reflected on the Incarnation as both the revelation of God’s love for us and our security that God cannot be separated from us. Finally I addressed the challenge to us of Incarnation: What difference does it make to how I live my life that God became human? What challenge does Incarnation present to me?

After my talk, I gave the participants time to engage in a contemplation of the incarnation and we ended with some group discussion.

You can access a recording of my talk here or stream it from the icon below. (The podcast runs for 18:20.) A copy of the the handout participants used for their individual reflection during the session is here.


She Said Yes

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of The Blessed Virgin Mary. It is a mouthful, but the full title reminds people that when the Church speaks of “immaculate conception” it is referring to Mary, and not to Jesus.

In celebration of this feast of Mary, I thought I’d share one of the many annunciation poems that I love. Here is Paul Mariani’s poem, I Did Say Yes.

Thou heardst me, truer than toungue, confess…
Gerard Manley Hopkins

The barely prayable prayer as the words fall away,
Words unguessed or unguessable, soft silence only,
Penetrant silence, the pit, then something stirring…
Importunate, unquenchable mind, astray
Or aswarm, attuned for odd moments after, then
Drifting. Then a lull & a lifting, then self flickering back,
As the parched sunflower turns towards the sun…

A woman kneels, head bent forward, each cell attendant
Upon the flame which, consuming, does not consume,
But gently enwrapts, caressing, filling herself with itself,
The burning clouds lingering, then hovering off, like
Mist off a mountain, here in this kitchen, this cell, here,
Where the timeless crosses with time, this chiasmus,
Infinity & now, nowhere & always, this cosmos, this fresh-

Found dimension, all attention gone over now, as flame
Flickers and whispers, all care turning to ash, all fear,
All consequence even, all given over, ah, lover to lover
Now, saying yes, yes, whatever you will, my dear,
Yes echoing down the long halls of time, yes,
In spite of all disappointment, of the death of Love even,
The barely sayable yes again, yes again, yes I will. Yes.