Tuesday 26 March 2013

Annunciation in Holy Week

I thought it fitting that the celebration of the Feast of the Annunciation be moved out of Holy Week (and Easter Week) to the Monday after Low Sunday.

However, I learned from Edward C. Yong (@infernoxv on twitter) that they do not transfer the feast in the Byzantine calendar.  Indeed, he said: 'we Byzantines always combine! most fun is combining Easter w Annun, next is Good Fri w Annun.' and he went on:  'the lore is that DNJC will return on such a easter+annun combi. Julian dating, of course ;)'

I found that fascinating, and opined that whilst I could see the joy of celebrating the Annunciation on Easter Day, I questioned celebrating it on Good Friday. Rosamundi (@rosamundi) joined in the conversation, pointing out the Lily Cross, beautiful symbolism when the Annunciation falls on Good Friday, and linking to this wonderful picture of it in a church on the Isle of Wight: paintedchurch.org/godshill.htm 

Better still she linked to this glorious poem by John Donne, for exactly that eventuality:

Upon the Annunciation and Passion Falling upon One Day. 1608

Tamely, frail body, abstain today; today
My soul eats twice, Christ hither and away.
She sees Him man, so like God made in this,
That of them both a circle emblem is,
Whose first and last concur; this doubtful day
Of feast or fast, Christ came and went away;
She sees Him nothing twice at once, who’s all;
She sees a Cedar plant itself and fall,
Her Maker put to making, and the head
Of life at once not yet alive yet dead;
She sees at once the virgin mother stay
Reclused at home, public at Golgotha;
Sad and rejoiced she’s seen at once, and seen
At almost fifty and at scarce fifteen;
At once a Son is promised her, and gone;
Gabriel gives Christ to her, He her to John;
Not fully a mother, she’s in orbity,
At once receiver and the legacy;
All this, and all between, this day hath shown,
The abridgement of Christ’s story, which makes one
(As in plain maps, the furthest west is east)
Of the Angels’ Ave and Consummatum est.
How well the Church, God’s court of faculties,
Deals in some times and seldom joining these!
As by the self-fixed Pole we never do
Direct our course, but the next star thereto,
Which shows where the other is and which we say
(Because it strays not far) doth never stray,
So God by His Church, nearest to Him, we know
And stand firm, if we by her motion go;
His Spirit, as His fiery pillar doth
Lead, and His Church, as cloud, to one end both.
This Church, by letting these days join, hath shown
Death and conception in mankind is one:
Or ‘twas in Him the same humility
That He would be a man and leave to be:
Or as creation He had made, as God,
With the last judgment but one period,
His imitating Spouse would join in one
Manhood’s extremes: He shall come, He is gone:
Or as though the least of His pains, deeds, or words,
Would busy a life, she all this day affords;
This treasure then, in gross, my soul uplay,
And in my life retail it every day.

John Donne

There are those who decry twitter, but with people like @infernoxv and @rosamundi about, it is a place of great learning and charm!

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