St. Ann

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/07/22 at 12:00 AM


  • In many churches dedicated to St. Ann, one can find either a piece of art, an altar, or even a chapel dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, for it was within the womb of St. Ann that the Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin was immaculately conceived.
  • Indeed our own chapel in this church is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, and our new stained glass windows that adorn it tell the story of the Immaculate Conception.
  • The first window on the left side of the chapel shows us, in the story of Adam and Eve, why mankind needs a Savior, thus necessitating the Immaculate Conception.
  • In the upper portion of that first window, Adam is being tempted to eat of the forbidden fruit being offered by the serpent and by Eve, as he sits amongst the beauty and harmony of Eden symbolized by various animals gathered around.
  • The animals depicted are those mentioned in Isaiah 11:6: “Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat; the calf and the young lion shall browse together.” They remind us of the order the world knew before the Fall.
  • But there is one other animal depicted as well, a rooster, that reminds us of St. Peter’s denial of Christ during His passion, and who is therefore a foreshadowing of not only Adam’s sin, but of all human sin. For at its heart, all sin is a denial of Christ.
  • In the lower half of the window, Adam and Eve are forced from the Garden by the angel after committing the original sin that introduced the chaos into our human nature, and thus into our world as well, that too many of us understand as normal.
  • They are clothed in animal skins, and Adam is now bearded – both signs of lost innocence.
  • But while this first window shows us why we need a Savior, the other windows in our chapeljoyfully show us how this was brought about, as the 3rd window shows the beautiful birth of Immaculate Mary, as well as the birth of Jesus, Whom Mary alone was worthy to bear because she was immaculately conceived and sinless throughout the entire course of her life.
  • The 4th window depicts both the triumphal proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854 by Pope Pius IX, and it’s confirmation by Mary as she appeared in Lourdes just 4 years later, proclaiming: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
  • These words of our Lady are so important, for they tell us that the Immaculate Conception is not just something that happened to her, not simply a miracle of grace bestowed uniquely upon Mary.
  • In speaking to St. Bernadette as she did, our Lady revealed that the Immaculate Conception is her very identity; it is in some sense her name, and thus she is unlike any other woman.
  • In speaking this way, our Lady is pointing to her profound union with the Holy Spirit, Who is the conception of love shared by the Father and the Son. As St. Maximilian Kolbe calls Him, the Holy Spirit is the uncreated Immaculate Conception.
  • And from the first moment of her conception, this uncreated Immaculate Conception dwells within her whom Kolbe calls the created Immaculate Conception. The Spirit dwells within the depths of her soul, making her incomparably worthy to be the Mother of God.
  • Yet as our 2nd window dedicated to St. Ann and St. Joachim reminds us, we would not have our Lady, without them. There can be no beautiful flower without a sturdy soil to nourish it.
  • While St. Ann is not mentioned in the Gospels, our Catholic tradition tells us that St. Ann was childless even after many years of marriage to St. Joachim.
  • One feast day St. Joachim went to the Temple to make a sacrifice, but he was denied entrance because he did not have children and was therefore considered unworthy. Grief- stricken, St. Joachim went to the hills near Jericho to pray and tend sheep.
  • Learning what happened to her husband, our dear patroness raised her voice in faithful prayer to our Lord, begging Him to relieve her from the scourge of sterility, and promising that any child borne of her would be placed in His service.
  • Their prayers were heard, and both Ann and Joachim were visited by an angel, who told them that they would conceive and bear a child who would be blessed by all the earth.
  • St. Joachim returned home quickly, where he was met and embraced by St. Ann outside the Golden Gate of Jerusalem. Throughout the centuries artists have often used the image of Sts. Ann and Joachim embracing outside the Golden Gate as a means of symbolically depicting Mary’s Immaculate Conception within St. Ann’s womb. Our window does the same.
  • But let us remember that St. Ann is a saint not simply because of the miraculous event that took place within her womb! While we know St. Ann best because she is the mother of the Mother of God, St. Ann has a holiness all her own.
  • In St. Ann we find that beautifully feminine virtue of faithful waiting upon the Lord.
  • Like so many of the mystics of our Church who have followed her, or the searching lover ofthe Song of Songs, St. Ann lived with a tremendous longing for God, a longing to be filledwith His grace – a longing that we should all try to imitate.
  • Though she lived for decades with the tremendous suffering of sterility, St. Ann’s love forGod remained undimmed – when so many other women would have turned away from Him.In her steadfastness, St. Ann shows us how to endure suffering patiently.
  • In St. Ann there was no bitterness because of her suffering, only patient fidelity. In the faceof shame and embarrassment, St. Ann was meek and continued to hope in the Lord’s favor. As we ponder her goodness and virtue, can we say the same about ourselves when we are face with suffering?
  • Moreover, knowing the immense virtues possessed by our Lady, can we not believe that, although those virtues are rooted in the extraordinary graces given to her by our Lord, those same virtues were also tended to and formed by the loving and maternal hand of her mother?
  • Sinless though she was, our Lady would still have needed the guidance and virtuous example of her holy mother in order to be prepared for her exalted vocation. So as we admire our Lady’s virtues, can we not see in them a reflection of the virtues of our dear patroness?
  • Indeed, how deep must the virtues of St. Ann have been if from her nurturing example and tender care came the most beautiful rose of all mankind!
  • And we can only imagine as well the grandmotherly love and affection St. Ann showed to the Christ Child, upon whom she must have doted with a most worthy adoration.
  • So as we celebrate the feast day of our patroness, who was found worthy by God to become the mother of her who brought forth His only-begotten Son, let us give thanks to her for her Immaculate daughter, who bore our Savior.
  • Let us thank St. Ann as well for her own virtues and try to imitate them.
  • While the beauty of the rose is so very captivating and something we should not live without,as every good farm boy knows, the soil has a beauty all it’s own.
  • St. Ann, the mother of the Mother of God and our patroness, pray for us!


© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
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