In the calendar of the church year, March 25 is normally the day that we celebrate as the "Annunciation" or the biblical event when the Angel Gabriel appears to the young, unmarried girl, Mary, to inform her of God's choosing her to bear the Messiah. Mary's response of surrender and praise has always been an example and challenge to me. Artistic representations of this event have spoken to me in a special way. In fact, I have a diptych of Fra Angelico's portrayal of this event as one of my prized items from our visit to Florence, Italy. A few years ago, I produced a "movie" using dozens of artistic portrayals of this scene to present to our church during Advent.
This year, because this "holiday" would have coincided with Good Friday, the western world celebrated the Annunciation on Monday, 04 April. On that day, former Texas senator, Wendy Davis, spoke at noted Notre Dame University on the benefits of abortion! Imagine--choosing to speak on the right to kill an unexpected and/or unwanted child on the very day when we acknowledge the value of life as God took on human flesh and lived among us. It is beyond comprehension to imagine Mary responding to this interruption in her life as Ms. Davis promoted!
I was recently made aware of an unique piece of art called Virgin Mary Consoles Eve, by Sister Grace Remington. The symbols and imagery of this piece evokes strong emotions for me. Two "mothers of the human race"--but one with shame and guilt evident in her body language and the other, presenting compassion, forgiveness and hope. The fruit of their wombs were destined to meet but Mary's seed brought hope to all mankind--for now and for eternity. Powerful. A statement that God is the source of life and that God's Son was sent that the value of life was assured.
Sister Grace Remington OCSO is a Cistercian sister of the Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey in Dubuque, Iowa. They offer this poem to accompany the painting. I hope it is speaks life and encouragement to you. We MUST celebrate ALL of life--beginning at conception--as we celebrate the Annunciation and Incarnation of our Savior.
Two women, old and new
One’s flesh tainted, the other’s faith true.
Lovely Eve, with face from God downcast
Clings to shame imposed by her past.
Glorious tresses fail to bring
O’er corrupted flesh full covering.
No passage of time can hide
The death of life she feels inside.
Far from the garden as she may flee
She can’t outrun shame’s misery.
Her labour miscarried, her fruit ill-born,
Love’s light lost leaves her soul forlorn.
Will serpent’s grip forever chase
All hope of freedom from her face?
In expectation and agony she sighs
As one by one, each offspring dies.
But from one daughter a Seed now springs,
An incorruptible life to end Eve’s suffering.
Perfect fruit Mary’s willing womb bears,
Proof to the world its Creator still cares.
Two women meet face to face.
Eve, damned by law, encounters Mary, full of Grace.
“God is with us,” her feminine form cries.
“Through our seed the serpent crushed, and his lies.”
Take heart, mother, sister, daughter.
Lift up your heads, oh son, brother, father.
The King of Glory comes as gentle Healer
His reign to restore creation’s grandeur.
Eden shall return, only bigger and better;
Christ has come His earth to unfetter.
Sons brought to glory, daughters adorned as a bride
Reigning o’er heaven and earth by His side.
Two women, both mothers of our race,
Look in hope on their newborn baby’s face—
The fulfillment of God’s promise, the hope of life to come—
Leave behind disgrace as they celebrate the Son.