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©2002 The Society of
Archbishop Justus, Ltd


Hallo again to all.

Monday, 25 March, is not only Monday in Holy Week, but also the Annunciation. That feast traditionally is transferred when it occurs during this most solemn week of the church year.

To us there is something mystically right and proper about the beginnings and endings occurring in the same space. The light of the annunciation, with its awe, holy joy and terror, and the sword that pierces hearts, dims into the sombre watchfulness of early Holy Week. It then shades into the brilliance and betrayal of Maundy Thursday and finally shadows into the impenetrable darkness of Good Friday.

Gabriel's lily becomes Golgotha's cross, a memento mori. White becomes black. The light, for a time (call it Holy Week), seems eclipsed. But not for long ...

Gerard David, The Angel of the Annunciation, altar piece,1500, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

But Gabriel's blood foams in his chest
He cannot bring himself to look.
The remnant of the bowl of reeling,
Stairways, the legendary well,
Back alleys, low doorways,
Even the starry regions overhead—
All are gravel, destined
To be recounted only in
The hidden alphabets,
In the metaphysical schools,
In other histories of other worlds;
But for now he turns away.

To the woman
Who kneels before him
As if the light hurt, streaming
Into the broken room, who kneels
Like a marble subject begging
For her child's life in the reign
Of Augustus. He wavers
As if a gulf had opened up beneath him
In the dusty floor;
He is silent, as if in honor of one
About to die in a Roman war;
He wavers in the air
Above the place where he had stood,
Then he becomes
One of the pictures of holy streams
That flow in Joseph's hoard of wood.

Mary lifts her face from the deep
Shadows burying the floor, as if Azrael*
With his shovel suddenly
Had knocked the ceiling in, and says
Then open our empty tombs as well
On each of us.

Gjertrud Schnackenberg
Crux of Radiance, 1992

See you next week, on the other side, in the light.

Cynthia McFarland's signature
Brian Reid's signature
Cynthia McFarland
Brian Reid

Last updated: 24 March 2002

*Traditionally the Angel of Death