From Weedy@21:1/5 to All on Sun Jul 25 23:47:17 2021
On Inconstancy of Heart: [I]
My son, do not trust your affections, for they are changeable and
inconstant. All your life you are subject to change, even against your inclination.(Rom.8:20) At one time you are cheerful, at another sad;
now peaceful, now troubled: now full of devotion, now wholly lacking
it; now zealous, now slothful; now grave, now gay. But the wise man,
who is well versed in spiritual matters, stands above these changing
emotions. He pays small regard to his momentary feelings and whims,
but directs all the powers of his mind towards the right and true end.
--Thomas à Kempis --Imitation of Christ Bk 3, Ch 33
July 26th – SS. Anne and Joachim
It is a dogma of faith that Mary the mother of God-Made-Man was
herself conceived and born immaculate--that is, untainted in soul by
the stain of original sin that has marked the souls of all other human
beings since Adam’s fall. Some devout Catholics of yore thought it appropriate to theorize that Mary herself was not conceived in the
normal way, but by a virginal conception like that of Jesus. Catholic
devotion to SS. Anne and Joachim overrules this mistaken piety. In
honoring them as the true grandparents of Jesus, it implies that Mary
was begotten in the manner that God established for the human race.
The gospels tell us nothing about Mary’s parents. Not even their
names. Practically everything that tradition says about them comes
from a second century “imitation” gospel called the “Proto-gospel of James.” In the early Church, there was some difficulty about sorting
out true books of the New Testament from counterfeits written in
scriptural style for one purpose or another. The most respectable of
these “pseudo-scriptures” is the Proto-gospel of James (2nd century).
If it is not accepted as a bible book, it quite likely does record
some actual traditions about Our Lady.
According to the Proto-gospel, Mary’s parents had the names we give
them today--Anne and Joachim. They are said to have been rich and
pious citizens of Nazareth. But they were also childless, in a
civilization in which childlessness was considered a stigma. Grieving
over their sterility, Joachim withdrew to the desert to pray. Anne
(i.e. Hannah, which means “grace”) remained at home; but she also
prayed for a child, promising to give over any offspring to God for
His own service. To each of them an angel now appeared. Their plea has
been granted, he said: when they reunited, Anne would conceive a girl.
The prediction was fulfilled. The parents called her Mary (i.e.
Miriam). The story parallels that of the Biblical narrative (1 Samuel
1) of the childless Hannah bearing Samuel. It is worth noting that in
Hebrew Anne and Hannah are the same name.
Popular Christian devotion to these parents of so great a daughter
developed naturally. They must have been wonderful people to have been
so favored. Through them, Jesus became a member of an extended
family--a concept that society venerated. Finally, they were saints
whom average couples could more easily appreciate than the virginal
parents of Jesus Himself.
Devotion to St. Anne in the Mideast dates from at least the 4th
century. Her feast was set on July 25. The Greeks also had a feast of
SS. Joachim and Anne, observed on September 9. In the West, there was
devotion to St. Anne as early as the eighth century, but she was
honored by a feast day, July 26, only after the 13th century. The cult
of St. Joachim developed more slowly, achieving recognition in the
15th century. He was assigned a feast day, September 16, only in 1913.
After Vatican II, the Church appropriately gave the couple a joint
feast on July 26, the former feast date of St. Anne alone.
At Auray in Brittany, France, there was a very popular shrine to St.
Anne in the early middle ages. In the New World, the chief shrine to
Mary’s mother is at Beaupre in the Province of Quebec, Canada. Here,
on March 13, 1658, French immigrants laid the foundation of the first
chapel in her honor. St. Anne de Beaupre became a popular spot for
pilgrimage from that day on. By 1905 the annual number of pilgrims had
Although St. Anne remains more popular than her saintly husband,
Catholic devotion to the pair has been essentially a devotion to the
human family. Having produced a daughter whom God called upon to give
to the world its redeemer, they had become the supreme witnesses of
the greatness of the family as a divine creation. In them, every other
couple can find a reassurance that in marriage, by bearing and raising
children for the greater honor and glory of God, they are privileged
to be, if not God’s grandparents, at least co-creators with Him of the
The love of worldly possessions is a sort of bird line,
which entangles the soul, and prevents it flying to God.
Who shall find a valiant woman? far and from the uttermost coasts is
the price of her. 11 The heart of her husband trusteth in her, and he
shall have no need of spoils. 12 She will render him good, and not
evil, all the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:10-12)
Joachim and Anne, how blessed a couple! All creation is indebted
to you. For at your hands the Creator was offered a gift excelling all
other gifts: a chaste mother, who alone was worthy of him.
Joachim and Anne, how blessed and spotless a couple! You will be
known by the fruit you have borne, as the Lord says: "By their fruits
you will know them." The conduct of your life pleased God and was
worthy of your daughter. For by the chaste and holy life you led
together, you have fashioned a jewel of virginity: she who remained a
virgin before, during, and after giving birth. She alone for all time
would maintain her virginity in mind and soul as well as in body.
Joachim and Anne, how chaste a couple! While leading a devout and
holy life in your human nature, you gave birth to a daughter nobler
than the angels, whose queen she now is.
--from a sermon by St. John Damascene