Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Annunciation -- What's your name of grace?

The Gospel of the Annunciation is full of names--7 in the first sentence alone. The angel Gabriel gives Mary a new name: "full of grace." The word translated as "hail" (kaire) literally means "rejoice." The new name God gives Mary is a reason for her to rejoice, because God has gifted her with so much grace.
Later in that Gospel, Gabriel says of Elizabeth that "she who was called barren is now in her sixth month." In those days, for a woman to be called "barren" was a sign of disgrace. But because "nothing is impossible with God," God changed that disgrace into a gift. The barren woman was now a mother.

All of us have been called names in our lives, some of them bad ones. But those names that others call us don't have the power to define us. Still, they can sting. God offers us a remedy, however, so that we can find our true identity in the name God bestows on us with love.

The Book of Revelation says, "To the victor . . . I shall also give a white stone upon which is inscribed a new name, which no one knows except the one who receives it" (2:17). Just as God gave Mary and Elizabeth new names, he gives us our own special names of grace. White stones were used in the ancient world in elections, to vote for someone, to show confidence in a person. We can ask in prayer for God to show us what our special name of grace is. And the name carries a power; we can do what we are named. If anyone calls you a bad name, don't accept it but instead recall that name of grace, the name from God, who loves you and calls you to greatness.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is off-topic but I was watching one of Robert Barron's Word on Fire videos and he mentioned how Thomas Aquinas was looking forward to Heaven so he could watch people roasting in Hell.I don't understand how anyone(theist or not) could admire such an individual. He makes my stomach turn.

Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouve said...

Do you have the exact quote? It's important to read a text in context and see what the person is saying. Thomas Aquinas was such a profound thinker and writer I would hope you would be moved to investigate first before making a snap judgment.

In any case, we live in an age that largely disregards God and has no sense of the seriousness of sin and its consequences. No one goes to hell but those who choose to go there because they deliberately reject God. Repeat: It is their own choice. Anyone who chooses to reject God by that very act chooses separation from God, which is exactly what hell is.

Probably the point Aquinas was trying to make is that in the next life we will see things entirely differently, and will rejoice to see God's justice carried out. The point is not really to rejoice in seeing others suffer, but in seeing that evil will not triumph. A person who suffered in a concentration camp, for example, would want to see the perpetrators punished for their crimes. That is really the kind of point Aquinas was probably trying to make.

Anonymous said...

In the gospels Jesus talks about God actively casting people into hell,not people "choosing" to go there. Also it doesn't seem to bother God one bit. This seems like a modern whitewashing of God's image to make Him more appealing to people today. I need to research the Aquinas quote.Thank you for the response.

Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouve said...

I think your difficulty is not really with Aquinas but with God--"it doesn't seem to bother God one bit."
You will need to take that up with God yourself.

But--where in the Gospel does Jesus say that God casts people into hell regardless of what they have done?
Reading the New Testament as a whole, God's passion is to save people. That is the whole point of the Incarnation and the redemption. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life" (Jn 3:16).

My point about choosing is that we can choose our actions, but not the consequences of our actions. To deliberately choose to reject God means to choose hell. The Gospel says this, too:

"Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God" (Jn 3:18). In other words, by choosing not to believe they condemn themselves.

Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouve said...

I should add that the choosing not to believe in the quote above refers to a choice that flows from disordered actions, that is, sin. It is not referring to a state of mere confusion or ignorance:

"And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God." (Jn 3:19-21)

Anonymous said...

How does one "take it up with God" exactly? If He exists, he seems more interested in playing hide and seek. He is very good at it. I don't see Him anywhere.

Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouve said...

Pray. Then listen. God speaks.

Anonymous said...

I'll try. Thank you for your time.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to be a pest but I have another question. This verse troubles me: Matt. 26, 24 "The Son of Man indeed goes his way, as it is written of him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It were better for that man if he had not been born." If it were better than Judas to have been born then why did God act to have him be born? Doesn't God need to cooperate for people to be born? It seems that God stacks the deck against some people. How can these people possibly be grateful to or love God?

Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouve said...

Hello Anonymous,
It seems to me that your question is really about the problem of evil and suffering. That is truly a difficult question, and a lot of great minds have wrestled with it. I can't claim to have the definitive answer. Ultimately though the answer is the cross, that God suffered for us.

The other part of your question seems to be about the causes of things. Catholic theology sees God as the Creator of the universe and so the ultimate cause of things. But it is not in the sense that God alone does everything without intermediaries. Such a view would say, for example, that when a fire burns it is not the fire giving heat, but God in the fire.

The Catholic view, instead, is that God works through intermediaries and allows secondary causes to have true effects. Otherwise, creation would be deprived of its pattern of cause and effect. God's power is such that it gives created causes a true power of causality. Otherwise there would be no point in God having created things with causative powers.

So, in the example you mention, God created human beings with the power of having babies, and God allows this power to work its natural course. It is not that we are only puppets and God is pulling the strings, so as to determine us to one course of action only.

I hope this may be helpful to you in some way. It sounds like you are having difficulties with faith, and it is a hard place to be in. I have been praying for you too.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your answers and prayers.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it seems easier to believe there is no God rather than try to reconcile the state of the world with the existence of a loving God. However, then everything seems meaningless.

Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouve said...

Yes, that's a good point.
This thought just popped into my mind, if it may be useful to you. There's a book called "Left to Tell" by Immaculee, about the Rwandan genocide. She had to hide for 3 months, crammed into a small bathroom with a few other women. Even though the book deals with such an awful event, it is not depressing to read. It is actually an amazing book to read because Immaculee is so full of faith. She was able to go through that and come out with a stronger faith. Really, it's quite incredible. It left me amazed. Perhaps her experience may speak to you in some way.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the suggestion. I may check it out.

Anonymous said...

Has God sent a prophet? www.thewarningsecondcoming.com
Be sure to read about the “Seal of the Living God” found on the homepage links - *a Biblical reference to this topic: Rev. chapter 7

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