Solemn Chapter of the Annunciation

Today after Mass we held our Solemn Chapter of the Annunciation. Chapter begins with the chanting of Prologue of the Gospel of John, this year sung beautifully by Sr. Denise Marie. The prioress usually asks another sister to prepare a homily for the Solemn Chapters, and the homilist is always kept secret until the prioress says something along the lines of, "Will the sister who has prepared the homily please come forward?" This year it was Sr. Mary Ana's turn. 

Sr. Mary Ana's Homily

When Sister Mary Catharine told me it was my turn to give a homily, I have to tell you Sisters that dread came over me. She gave me a pep talk and feeling a little less dreadful, I went up to the novitiate library and grabbed, what I call “ol reliable,” or as it's commonly called, The Encyclopedia of Religion. It may seem weird but when I am unsure where to begin I always think, “why not with the basics?” After reading the definition I was still puzzled so I looked at the little icon of Mother Mary on the desk and asked, “Mama Mary, what is it you want me to say?”

Praying to our Mother made me remember how my mother taught me to pray and talk to Mother Mary. I should say that my mother never actually told me, but rather showed me how. After every Mass my mum would get up and walk over to our big statue of Our Lady of the Coronation, fold her hands in front of her chest as a child-like smile spread across her face and then bow her head in prayer. That image of my mother comes to my mind when I look at the picture of the Annunciation by Fra Angelico. I love the wonderment of Mary’s eyes, the slight open-mouthed smile spread upon her face, and of course, her hands folded in prayer.

When Gabriel appeared to Mary she was at first disturbed. Being disturbed especially in prayer or by prayer isn’t always a bad thing. Like Mary who trusted but questioned, we too can fold our hands in times of disturbance and simply ask God how, or why. Mary asks, “How is it when I know not man?” and Gabriel replies, “The Holy Spirit will come to rest upon you.”

In times of disturbance, which seems to happen on a daily basis, we must place our trust in God. We may ask Him how or why, but underneath our troubles trust must reside. Like Mary if we trust, the Holy Spirit will come to rest upon us, too. And that disturbance will turn to peace and clarity. Let’s ask for peace and clarity not only from God but from each other. If we listen and respond to one another like Mary in child-like wonderment, the Holy Spirit will not just come upon us, but burn within us all the days of our lives.