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Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. ~ Hebrews 11:1 1
Homily for the Solemnity of the Annunciation
Nine months from this day, March 25, we will be celebrating Christmas. Thus, today we celebrate that world-changing event in the life of Mary and all Christians: the conception of Jesus. Nine months might feel like nine years the way time is challenging us all as we deal with this coronavirus pandemic.
Our attention today easily goes to Mary, mother of Jesus, for her role in both today’s Gospel and salvation history is central for all Christians. Today is a celebration of Christian unity, and unity is something we need tremendously, especially as the human community struggles with this present moment of unprecedented challenge.
I am wondering if today Mary and our human family have a lot in common. We are both “greatly troubled.” We both need to hear the words: “Do not be afraid.” And, the only way forward—for Mary as a young mother, and for us in this crisis—is through the power of the Holy Spirit: We need the power of the Most High to overshadow us.
With so much in common with Mary, mother of Jesus, I think we could do well to look to her to see how she responded to her moment of crisis, as an unmarried woman now pregnant with a child she neither asked for nor chose to conceive by loving a man. In our crisis of social distance, isolation, anxiety, fear, sadness, and possible depression, illness, or anger, what can Mary teach us?
During this weekday Mass, I offer three lessons from Mary. First, great things can happen with social distancing. Mary’s son was conceived without any human touch. That is how powerful the Holy Spirit is when we open ourselves to the power of the Spirit. To choose a challenging virtue over a familiar, enjoyable, and pleasurable vice. To be more gentle than harsh or sarcastic, whether driving, texting, emailing, or responding in a conflict.
Second, when faced with a crisis we frequently to go the why question. Why is this happening to me? Why is my life so hard because of this? Why am I in such pain? No doubt, Mary could have asked the angel Gabriel, why is this happening to me? Or, why did I get picked for this huge task to be the mother of the savior of the world? Instead of asking the why question in her crisis, Mary asked a how question: How can this be since I have no relations with a man? Perhaps in this crisis there are how questions to be asked: How can I be strong during this time of social distancing? How can I enter into deeper solidarity with those who are struggling right now? How can I stand with others who are feeling lonely or afraid?
Finally, Mary teaches us how powerful the powerless can be. In her patriarchal society, Mary’s poverty and undereducation were magnified. To quote one scholar: “She is among the most powerless people in her society: she is young in a world that values age; female in a world ruled by men; poor in a stratified economy. Furthermore, she has neither husband nor child to validate her existence” (L.T. Johnson, Sacra Pagina, Luke, 1991, p. 39). In Mary, God reverses human expectations and evacuates the logic of strategic planning and success. Friends, we may feel powerless against this pandemic, but if we, like Mary, are faithful to the Spirit and interdependent, dive into solidarity, ask the how questions, and believe that our powerlessness can become powerful, perhaps we can see Jesus in nine months—or sooner.
Trexler Library now has a trial subscription to the Harvard Business Publishing Collection
Harvard Business Publishing Collection includes HBR’s complete catalog of e-books. HBR Press is a leading global book publisher and a division of Harvard Business Review Group. The collection includes the full text reprints of influential Harvard Business Review articles.
The collection is available from our A to Z database list which is located at the bottom of our search box on our homepage, and it is a database selection within EBSCO eBook Academic Collection.
This is a trial subscription to which we will have access until May 15, 2020.
The last day of voter registration is APRIL 13.
- If you HAVE a PA driver’s license or PENNDOT ID Number, register HERE: https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/Pages/VoterRegistrationApplication.aspx
- To receive an ABSENTEE BALLOT, Apply By APRIL 21, 2020 at 5PM: https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/OnlineAbsenteeApplication/#/OnlineAbsenteeBegin
- DO NOT HAVE A PENNSYLVANIA ID? You can still register with your DeSales Address
- 2755 Station Avenue, Center Valley, PA 18034, Lehigh County, Upper Saucon Township
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- NO PA ID, you MUST print and mail your absentee ballot: https://www.votespa.com/Voting-in-PA/Documents/Absentee_Ballot_Application.pdf
- Application must be received by April 21, 2020
- All Absentee Ballots Must be Received by April 28, 2020
IMPORTANT: ELECTION DATES may change, but to ensure your ballot, register by the above dates.
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Trexler Library is pleased to announce that we now have access to EBSCO’s eBook Academic Collection.
This multidisciplinary collection includes thousands of e-books covering a large selection of academic subjects and features e-books from leading publishers and university presses.
It is available from our A to Z list of databases which is a link under our search box on our homepage.
We have access to these eBooks via our membership in PALCI (PA Academic Library Consortia, Inc.) The EBSCO trial is available to us until June 15, 2020.
“Ah, bless the Lord, O my soul! bless him for wildness, for crows…”
–from Henry David Thoreau’s journal, January, 1855
I’ve been thinking of crows.
I’ve been thinking of crows in part because now when I look up from the computer my view is of the back woods rather than Dooling parking lot. A few minutes ago a single, burly American crow landed in the budding dogwood tree in front of me. Sometimes crows will land in pairs. Two weeks ago on a bright afternoon, the canopy hosted one of those gatherings of crows that numbers in the hundreds, sometimes thousands, all of them racheting away in a great hectic of noise. From afar it can sound like the entire treeline’s aflame.
It also struck me a few days ago what a small sonic step it is from “corvid”—meaning a member of the crow family—to COVID and struck me how, in the non-human animal kingdom out there, all’s relatively as it was. This morning a whitetail bounded up the lawn toward South Mountain. Turkeys scavenged seed under the hanging feeders. By last week’s full moon, a fox, and two raccoons. Situation normal for the non-human animal world—maybe better, given the easy winter, the early spring.
It’s a long-established American tradition, reading the natural world: think Aldo Leopold, John Burroughs, Emerson, Thoreau, the Native Americans. Today, it’s the American crow that most causes me to marvel. Twenty-one years ago, the West Nile virus swept across America. A relatively minor annoyance to humans on the new COVIDian scale of things (though West Nile was and can be fatal to us), it killed millions of birds, the great majority of them corvids, particularly the American Crow.
Yet their population’s remained steady for the better part of a century. Despite West Nile. Despite organized extermination hunts. Despite, in one famous case, dynamite-loaded shrapnel bombs. Despite habitat depletion.
Why? Good evidence suggests they possess creative imaginations. They’re inventive problem solvers. They use tools. Confronted with challenges, they adjust, adapt. (Too many guns in the countryside? Figure out how to live in cities.) They’re strongly familial; offspring remain to help raise the next batch of offspring, and the next. They’re sensible enough to knock off from the difficult work of being a crow and just play. When they see a human face, kind or hostile, they remember it.
We’re all looking out windows on a rapidly changing landscape. We can turn our faces to them as we would to a book of enlightenment.
Stephen Myers, Ph.D.
Professor of English
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