A treat for today’s feast
Father Robert Imbelli has developed an unusual way to offer spiritual meditations. He begins by reflecting on an incident from his life, or a work of art he has admired—or both—and works his way into deeper theological issues. His book Rekindling the Christic Imagination, which I reviewed here, uses that technique. He shows it again in a short essay for The Catholic Thing on the feast of the Annunciation.
Father Imbelli remembers a chance encounter years ago during a visit to the Holy Land, adds an insight from a poem by Denise Levertov, stirs in the readings from today’s liturgy, and thus prepares something appropriate for the feast: a meditation on the Virgin Mary and her Fiat, which of course leads immediately to the Incarnation.
Along the way, Father Imbelli remarks that the medieval mind had an intuition that “the personal and the cosmic are inextricably linked.” If we lack that important recognition today, is it because we are not fully prepared to acknowledge the message of the Incarnation? It shocks our sensibilities to suggest that God took a lowly human form, that the eternal has penetrated the everyday. It took unusual courage, my friend explains, for the Virgin to make the Fiat without holding anything back. When Mary accepted the angel’s message, she was left with nothing of herself: only the work of God.
Every material heresy, it seems, recoils at the full implications of the Incarnation. When God becomes man, He unsettles our ideas and overthrows the little earthly kingdoms in our minds. So we resist.
Father Imbelli’s distinctive approach is especially apt for the feast of the Annunciation, because he explores the ways in which the concrete and the mundane point toward the ineffable and the exalted—toward the Word become flesh.
Read the essay, and enjoy the feast.
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