From Lady Day to Easter Day
This Station is at yet another church built in honour of the celebrated deacon and martyr, St Lawrence. It was built in the 4th century by Pope St Damasus I and was believed to have been on the site of is own home, hence it is called the titulus Damasi and is one of the oldest parish churches in Rome. The adjoining palace contained the archives of the Church which were transferred to the Lateran palace in the 7th century. The church was rebuilt in the 15th century and restored after a fire in 1944.
At a sermon last week on the Solemnity of the Annunciation, the preacher mentioned that in the Eastern church, the Annunciation was so great an event that even if it fell on Holy Saturday, it was still celebrated and would not be transferred, as is the Western custom. A week before that, I had delivered a talk in which I quoted the Fathers as saying that the Incarnation led to the Cross and that the eyes of faith which look upon the Cross see the Resurrection. This telescoping of the various mysteries of our Faith is a reminder that although we live out the events of Christ's life over the liturgical year, they are actually all one Paschal Mystery, the Mystery of Jesus Christ. Laetare Sunday was yet another day when so many ideas are brought to bear on one day, expressing the Mystery of the Body of Christ, His Holy Church.
Thinking upon the Annuciation and the Cross, I looked to Fr John Saward's book, The Mysteries of March, and I would like to recommend his reflections which draw deeply upon Von Balthasar's insights:
"The mysteries of March meet in Mary, the Virgin Mother of God. At the Annunciation she says 'Yes' to the Incarnation of God the Son in her womb. On Calvary she consents to the Sacrifice he offers for the sins of the world. When he rises in glory from the tomb, her fiat flows into a jubilation beyond words. Mary gives her undivided assent to the whole mission of Jesus, from Lady Day to Easter Day and to the ages of ages..."
As such, the Annunciation is not a festal note that intrudes on the gravity of Lent: it is central to the Cross, the goal of our Lenten journey. As such, Mary is our companion on the Lenten journey and our model and exemplar. With her we contemplate the Cross on which her Son hung for the salvation of mankind.
Read the rest of Fr Saward's article here.
May Our Blessed Mother and St Lawrence be our guides as we look to the Cross and learn to say 'Yes' to God, consenting that His will be done in us.