Saturday, December 24, 2005

Et Incarnatus Est

How much trouble those words have caused over the centuries.

Et incarnatus est
de Spiritu Sancto
ex Maria Virgine,
et homo factus est.

By the power of the Holy Spirit
He was born of the Virgin Mary
And became man.

It was said that the rebellion of Satan and the other fallen angels was over this idea that God would lower Himself to become man. Satan refused to bow before a mere man, and the die was cast.

There are those who hate God for precisely this reason, for becoming man. For in doing so, He endowed man with a unique dignity at odds with our culture of death. It's much harder to kill the unborn child, the aged, the ill, if you think that in looking at them you might be seeing the face of God.

It was no bargain for Jesus, either. Often in classical Masses, the Et incarnatus est section of the Credo is a somber, deliberate movement, a far cry from the joyous nature of much of the rest of the music. The Et incarnatus est of Bach's B minor Mass is a perfect example of what music critic Robert R. Reilly once called "the Creed from Jesus' point of view."

After all, He was born to die. Many of those whom He came to save denied Him. He was betrayed and rejected by His own disciples, and underwent an agonizing death on the Cross, taking on the weight of all the sins of man - not only those already committed, but those that would be committed throughout the history of time. And while undergoing His Passion, He carried the knowledge that even after His Resurrection, people would continue to reject Him, and crime and injustice would be committed in His name. It's hard to imagine much joy in knowing, as He did, what life had in store for Him.

And yet He did it, willingly. "Before He was given up to death, a death He freely accepted," in the words of the Eucharastic Prayer. And so it is that at midnight tonight we celebrate the birth of our Savior, the Eternal God and Son of the Eternal Father Who, seeking to sanctify mankind to Himself, was born and died for our sins and for our salvation.

He was born of the Virgin Mary and became man. For this we will be forever grateful. Come, let us be joyful and adore this Babe in the manger, let us look upon Him with some measure of the love which He, even before the moment of His birth, had for us.

Certainly this is a reason to celebrate. And let us do so! We'll be back to the blog on Monday with more Christmas coverage; until then, from us to all of you, our wishes for a blessed and very Merry Christmas!

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