It’s been very nerve-wracking trying to schedule time to go to Mass during Annual Meeting. Even worse, in addition to the usual Sunday obligation, today’s a holy day of obligation as well. I’ve got the 5:30 vigil mass at Sacred Heart on my schedule, in hopes of going, even though said vigil mass is more for the Sunday obligation rather than the holy day.
But planning with Dante all during the day, I discover that the even closer Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is having an extra mass at five, in addition to their usual Saturday at nine in the morning, for their feast day. Things are fairly quiet around the staff office and my ticket booth, so we dash over by cab.
It’s a modest but lovely church. Sign says it was the first Catholic church in Atlanta. The original wooden structure some blocks away, gone now, while this building erected in 1872. I do so love old churches.
But going to a different church for mass is something of a dance, not knowing where and how they practice certain things. We sit near the back, but Monsignor Gracz announces right at the beginning that he’d like everybody to move as far forward as possible. So we hike up to the front row. Then Monsignor basically begins the mass standing in the nave in the back. Strange and backwards. And he asks us to start out by introducing ourselves to everyone around us. Andy is right behind me, Regina is two rows back. I tell Regina that she has the best name for today.
Finally Monsignor processes up to the sanctuary. Our singing is not remarkably good. The opening hymn is Sing of Mary, Pure and Lowly. Then, for the readings, Monsignor comes and sits in the pews, in the front row, right next to me. The first reading is from Genesis, “After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree.” Original sin time. Good for today though, for the Blessed Virgin, born without it.
Lotta folks misunderstand the Immaculate Conception, of course, confusing it with the virgin birth of Christ. Then all the non-Catholic denominations who do understand what we mean by it specifically reject the Immaculate Conception as strange dogma, recent too. To me it’s pretty easy to go along with it. I mean, if you’re going to believe in the concept of original sin in the first place, how hard is it to think of the mother of the savior as being without it? Not a big leap. For a God who can create the entire universe, this particular item doesn’t seem like it’s that difficult, yeah?
But, back to the reading, totally fie on Adam for immediately trying to blame Eve for his own actions, for taking that bite of the apple. For shame. Very weak, but I suppose typical of my gender.
The Gospel reading is from Luke, because, hey, it’s the Blessed Virgin’s day and St. Luke is totally the best for all things Marian. It’s the Annunciation, although sadly it doesn’t quite go all the way through to include the Magnificat. Whenever I picture this scene, the Annunciation, I always imagine the angel Gabriel up above Mary, being an angel and being able to fly and all. But then my favorite painting of this scene, by Boticelli, has Gabriel kneeling reverently below Mary. Either way:
Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.
And note also that there’s a separate feast for the actual Annunciation itself, a movable feast in the Catholic church, normally March 25.