Praying with Anna

December 30, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, since our Responsorial is again Psalm 96, let’s pray with Anna the Prophetess from today’s Gospel.

We have so much to learn from Anna,
a woman completely wrapped in mystery
until she bursts through these verses
in the brilliance of prophecy!


Anna:

  • advanced in years – yet still vitally engaged in the search for God
  • widowed early – then giving the long, solitary years to a Messianic Hope
  • a faster and a prayer – witnessing the fruitfulness of a contemplative life

Even in today’s brief Gospel appearance, Anna calls us to spiritual depths by her

  • Steely fidelity 
  • Pregnant solitude
  • Eternal hope
  • Quiet intimacy with God

Anna spent decades, waiting in her own “Cloud of Unknowing”. In the miraculous inverse of the spiritual life, her shadows were filled with Light.

When you first begin, you find only darkness, and as it were a cloud of unknowing. You don’t know what this means except that in your will you feel a simple steadfast intention reaching out towards God. Do what you will, and this darkness and this cloud remain between you and God… Reconcile yourself to wait in this darkness as long as is necessary, but still go on longing after him whom you love.

from “The Cloud of Unknowing”

In today’s Gospel, we meet Anna, a First Witness, stepping out of the deepened shadows and sharing her long-nurtured Light:

And coming forward at that very time,
Anna gave thanks to God and spoke about the child
to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

Luke 2:38

In our prayer today,
let’s listen to what Anna might reveal to us.

Reflective Prose: from The Cloud of Unknowing, an anonymous 14th century work on mysticism and prayer.

The nature of love 
is that it shares everything. 
Love Jesus, and everything he has is yours.
…He may, perhaps, 
send out a shaft of spiritual light, 
which pierces this cloud of unknowing beteween you, 
and show you some of his secrets… 
then will you feel your affection flame 
with the fire of his love, 
far more than I could possibly describe…

In place of music today: Anna the Prophetess by Leddy Hammock and Sue K. Riley

Now, in this moment I close my outer eyes 
and look within with my inner eyes.
I see a vision of wonder,
for I am the daughter of the vision of God,
of the tribe of the blessed ones,
a soul under grace.
I judge not by appearances.
I believe in God’s promises.
I fast from shadows and I live on light.

From my youth, I have served at the temple,
a vessel to a holy purpose.
Prayer is the temple where I dwell
Here I behold the image of the Lord.
I close my eyes and behold that image,
the eyes of the Infinite beholding me
all through the ages,
so tenderly gazing with love and compassion,
enfolding me.

Prayer is the temple where I dwell.
Here, I behold the image of the Lord.
The thoughts held in mind 
are mirrored in kind all around me,
reflecting through all that I see.
Now, I behold with inner vision
the wonders that will be in the fullness of time.

The dreams of all my days and nights
are incensed in the inner sanctum.
My thoughts of truth are flowers on the altar of light.
In the presence of the Holy of Holies,
I keep the high watch.
Gifted with the inner sight,
I see beyond the present.

I am an old, old soul, yet ageless in eternity.
Though outer eyes may seem to dim with time,
the inner eyes are crystal clear.
Though outer vision may seem obscured by time and place,

or clouded by the sorrows and the slavery of sense,
another world’s revealed so clear.
And what I see will be.
My thoughts are giving form,
And held in mind, shall reproduce in kind.

O Lord, I take a long loving look at the real.
I prophesy.
Christ is here.
I have seen the Lord, Thine image, 
and held that image to my own heart.
I am the Spirit of Imagination.
I am Anna, the prophetess, woman of power.

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