Following the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary…

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It’s another year and it’s yet another billboard that the self-proclaimed Anglican “progressive” church—St. Matthew’s-in-the-City Church—in Auckland, New Zealand, has posted to get people to consider the authentic meaning of Christmas.

Two years ago, the billboard depicted Mary and a dejected-looking Joseph lying in bed, with the tagline, “Poor Joseph, God was a hard act to follow.”  Last year, the billboard read, “For those who can’t make Mass this Christmas, we’ve blessed this billboard. (Go ahead, touch it).”  After a storm, the church bottled and auctioned online the rainwater running off the billboard, calling it “holy water,” to raise money for the church’s charity work.

This year, the billboard depicts the Blessed Virgin Mary after reading the results of her early pregnancy test.

The Blessed Virgin Mary gets her early pregnancy test results

According to a article, the pseudo-Renaissance style billboard carries no tagline.  Instead, the church’s leaders, vicar Glynn Cardy and associate priest Clay Nelson, have invited people to offer their own thoughts.

One Catholic activist, Arthur Skinner of the Catholic Action Group, took the church leaders at their word.  Skinner expressed his thoughts by tearing the billboard in half during a prayer protest.  In a television interview, he said:

Even people who aren’t Catholics know instinctively you don’t attack the Blessed Virgin who gave us the savior of the world.  To see this at this time is an absolute abomination.

Skinner warned that if the provocative image is replaced, he will damage it again.

Cardy and Nelson denounced Skinner’s self-expression as representing “Christian intolerance.”  They said:

Frankly, we are tired of Christian intolerance—and embarrassed by it.  When will we recognize that none of us have the whole truth?  When will we recognize that those who hold contrary opinions are not “of the devil?  When will we recognize that truth comes in many guises, often in unexpected ways?

Okay, like it or not, the church’s leaders are “inclusive” of a “diversity” of belief and they are inviting people to express their beliefs.

However, while the billboard undoubtedly “pushes the envelope,” it doesn’t offend or outrage The Motley Monk.  Yes, an EPT test doesn’t conform with scripture.  Yes, bigots will post thoughts ridiculing Christian doctrine.  Yes, some zealots will be offended and outraged, using the billboard to express themselves.  And yes, The Motley Monk would not have posted the billboard.

But, all of that overlooks how the billboard depicts something substantive, namely, the genuinely human element present at the Annunciation that is entirely in conformity with scripture.  Following God’s will oftentimes presents tremendous challenges and at great personal cost.  The substantive question is whether or not a person will accept those challenges and pay those costs.

That said, if The Motley Monk had the opportunity to express his thoughts, he would paint a tag line at the bottom of the billboard’s sign: “Let it be done unto me, according to your word.”


Let the discussion begin…


To read the article, click on the following link:

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  1. I agree with the spokeswoman for the Aukland Diocese, Lyndsay Freer: “…Mary is not a shocked solo mother, but a young woman who, despite any anxiety she may have had, has given her firm assent and trust to God, saying ‘Be it done to me according to your will.’ ”

    A poor choice, but given their previous billboards and their active promotion of the gay/lesbian/transgender community, is it no wonder that they have absolutely no regard for the Blessed Virgin?

  2. There has been much discussion on our local Catholic blog,
    most being against the billboard, including yours truly.
    The discussion morphed into an exegetical analysis of the Annunciation and Incarnation by one of the commenters, who I’m sure, many have come across before. I would think a lot of Anglicans and other Christians would not be happy with the sign. But its this sort of crap we have come to expect from Glynn Cardy; shallow theology and a poor understanding of the gospel – no wonder the Anglican church is in such a bad state.

  3. The Blessed Virgin Mary gives us an sinless (Immaculate Conception!) example of faith, hope, and humility; not one of humiliation.

    What else could one expect from a so-called religion that was founded by heinous (Off with their heads!) Henry VIII so he could sire a titular, non-bastard heir for his throne.

    Only stupider thing I can dream up would be a picture of them idiot, inbred royals from London.

  4. Addendum, to why that is so wrong: The First Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary is “The Annunciation”, wherein the prayer states “I desire the love of humility.” And, the meditation is: Think of the humility of the Blessed Virgin Mary when the Angel Gabriel greeted her with these words, “Hail, full of grace . . . “

  5. “Mary is not a shocked solo mother”


    Tasteless? Maybe. Offensive? Only if you’re looking to be offended.

  6. Mary’s response was not shock. When Gabriel explained she was to be pregnant and by what way, her response was “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

    If you are thinking of the verse about her being troubled (Lk 1:29), that was after she was greeted and before pregnancy was even mentioned.

  7. “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”

    Can be reasonably interpreted as shock. Probably even likely.

  8. This is tasteless and insensitive to Christians. I don’t think that Mary having asked a question necessarily indicates she was in shock. She was more in wonder as to how herself, a virgin, was able to conceive.

  9. “I don’t think that Mary having asked a question necessarily indicates she was in shock.”

    Necessarily? No. Probably? Maybe. Reasonably? For sure.

    That’s not a question people would normally ask without shock. Maybe you believe Mary is unusually stoic?

  10. @Teresa, your answer is like Mary, by God’s grace, perfect.

    @RR, Shock requires an element of disbelief. Mary was not lacking in belief. She knows all things are possible with God. She was stating in question form “I have no relations with a man. Tell me how this is to unfold.”

    Tonight’s Bible study assignment:
    What is the difference between Lk 1:18 & Lk 1:34? What was the outcome of the dialogue for each and why?

  11. But, if she was indeed in shock that would indicate weakness on the part of Mary? Isn’t weakness a sign of sinfulness? She was sinless so it seems unlikely that she was shocked.

  12. “If she was indeed in shock… would (that) indicate weakness on the part of Mary?”

    I think most of us realize there’s a difference between being surprised and being shocked. I would guess that Mary was quite surprised by what Gabriel told her, in the sense of “Wow, you’re saying God really has picked little ole ME to be the mother of His Son?” However, I doubt very much that she was shocked in the sense of “What? You have to be kidding? Nooo waaay can this possibly be happening to me!”

    Shock, no; awe, yes.

  13. “Shock requires an element of disbelief.”

    No it doesn’t. It requires just the opposite. If you disbelieve it, you won’t be shocked. The “disbelief” you talk about is idiomatic. When we say “You gotta be kidding!” we don’t mean that we really believe the person is necessarily joking. Rather, we believe the news and express how shocked we are by using these expressions. Case in point, your response to someone saying “You gotta be kidding me!” isn’t “Why won’t you believe me?”

    “But, if she was indeed in shock that would indicate weakness on the part of Mary?”

    No. Shock is not a sin.

    “I think most of us realize there’s a difference between being surprised and being shocked.”

    Shocked: the state of being really surprised at some news.

    This is when being bilingual helps. In some languages, there aren’t separate words for shocked and surprised.

  14. Surprise is when reality does not match what believe will or should happen. This is the disbelief I am talking about. Shock is an amplified surprise, when reality and expectations differ so much that it is an assault on the senses.

    Take for example the most shocking event in recent history, 9/11. Ever hear a 9/11 witness say “I can’t believe this is happening.”? That’s disbelief. Sane people believe planes take you from point A to point B, not fly into buildings. The senses are in disbelief; they are shocked.

    Mary would not say “I can’t believe this is happening” or anything of the sort after her introduction to the angel. Such a suspension of belief would be doubt. Mary never doubts God or his plan.

    If you want an example of doubt, see Lk 1:18 and what became of that.

  15. I am tired of people doing things to shock other people and then pretending to be outraged when it works. This crew puts up billboards every year that are calculated to offend people — just so that they can ridicule people for being offended while claiming to be “above such things” themselves.

  16. Another dime-a-dozen dissident church doing things under the guise of “humanizing” the Gospel, but in reality are doing the usual desacralizing of everything.

  17. The Church of St. Barnum (Auckland Campus) has ginned up its annual dose of notoriety.

    The Rev. Cardy and Co. have their reward.

  18. When you see a plane crashing into the WTC, you are in shock, but you have absolutely no doubt that it happened. Shock is not doubt.

    Besides, Mary was explicitly shocked when Gabriel first appeared to her. So if it’s a sin, the Bible says she sinned.

  19. “When you see a plane crashing into the WTC, you are in shock, but you have absolutely no doubt that it happened. Shock is not doubt’

    You have no doubt it happened, and you are in disbelief it did happen.

  20. Doesn’t the concept that Mary, having received a message from an angel, and assenting to become a mother, but then later taking a maternity test, subversively imply that the Holy Mother did not believe the angel, that she doubted God?

    Mary needed no pregnancy test (even had one been available) because she trusted God when He said she would conceive. And if for some reason she had one and would have taken it, she would not have been surprised to find the result. The feeling would have passed before she assented to God, not remained afterwards.

  21. Sad to say that, despite receiving was at least referred to as a “theological education”, these clergy are so clearly ignorant about their own faith.

    Was Mary in shock? Of course not– not if her response was “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord: Be it unto me according to Thy word.”

    Was she afraid? Of course. There would be little value to her obedience if it didn’t come with potential cost. The obvious initial cost was embarrassment– imagine being a young girl of maybe fourteen, saying to her parents, to her fiancée, that “Well, yes, I’m pregnant, but I never had sex! You believe me, don’t you?” How many parents would?

    But the fear of embarrassment was nothing. Mary had been raised in her faith, and so she knew the Law. When St. Matthew writes that St. Joseph, “being a kind man”, would have “put her away quietly” to avoid causing scandal, the young Virgin knew well that scandal was the least of her worries. Under Levitical Law, a newly wed woman accused of not being virginal by her new husband, and who could not prove the “signs of her virginity” (her parents bringing the wedding bed sheet to the Elders where they sat at the town gate), would be brought before her father’s door, and there she would be stoned to death.

    Mary knew that. She knew that, in saying yes to the Angel, she could be killed, horribly. But her faith in God was greater than her fear, and she chose obedience when the ‘logical’ response would have been the opposite. She chose to obey God even when it was the most difficult, most frightening decision the young girl had ever made.

    It’s easy to be faithful when we know it isn’t going to cost us anything. When the price is first our reputation and then our very lives, it is not so easy. And that is why Mary is so important to us, as Christians. It is all well and good to try to model ourselves on Jesus Christ, but if we slip– when we slip– we can always tell ourselves ‘Yes, but He was God, and we are merely human– we couldn’t hope to live up to His model’. But Mary was a frail human, barely entering into adulthood. If we take Mary, the Proto-Christian, the first human being to accept Jesus as the Christ, and to believe in His divinity even when she was eight months pregnant and exhausted, even when she was changing his dirty diapers… if we take Mary as our model, we have no excuse. If she could remain faithful, from the Angel Gabriel’s Visitation through 33 often-difficult years, ending with her standing at the foot of the Cross and watching her only Son die in horrible agony, unable to do anything for Him, then how can we, with our so much simpler challenges (no one is threatening to stone us to death for our obedience, no one if torturing our children to death) do any less? Mary is the ultimate model of human faithfullness to the Creator who entered into His own Creation in order to die, that we might live.

    It’s a shame the Angelus has fallen out of fashion– it is perhaps the single best model for our faith, and for our lives.

  22. Conego’s litle essay about Mary’s obedience regardless of potential cost – stoning to death – got me thinking, especially when he asked, “Can we do any less?” At my place of work we have a mandatory on-line training course in diversity which we are required to take and pass every year as a condition of our employment. For the first time in 35 years of working in military and commercial nuclear power, I found the training contained explicit endorsement of gay marriage with test questions designed to ensure that the exam-taker holds that opinion. A passing grade cannot be acheived without so answering. So should an employee give the answers that the test designers want, or should he jeapordize his job and fail the tests? I will add that the Christians I know at work (a couple of Baptists and one Reformed Presbyterian) gave the results that the test designers wanted but were thoroughly disgusted (and two told me so). Those that are Catholics whom I know of at work didn’t think twice about it (we can’t be prejudiced, now can we?), having been thoroughly indoctrinated in the false gospel of social justice, the common good and peace at any price.

    This challenge of “be it done to me according to Thy word” is becoming a reality in our post-modern, neo-pagan society, and most people are caving in. I took the tests several times, failing (of course). I will eventually be asked to pass, and perhaps given some kind of remedial diversity and tolerance training. But there is no tolerance for true Christianity, and diversity is supported for everyone except true Christians.

    Buckle up, folks. We all will be asked to do what Mary was asked to do – carry Christ in our lives – and the potential consequences may yet become equivalent to stoning. “They” start with pink “nice-nice” force, first threatening your job, but “they” always end with red blood. The lesson of Robespierre is clear.

  23. I have to echo Baron Korf: Outside of the anachronism of having a first-century EPT test, having been told by a messenger of the Lord that she would bear a child, why would Mary need to check? She wasn’t Moses, who struck the rock twice in a moment of doubt.

    Taking Cardy and Nelson at their word that “none of us have the whole truth”, it becomes even more important that we not adulterate the truths we are given; this is why the Church must essentially be a conservative, traditional institution, always cautious in the face of “development” to make sure the new doesn’t corrupt the old. True tolerance doesn’t require us to hold our doctrines as uncertain, unstable or “subjective” … it certainly doesn’t require irreverence or mockery of those doctrines.

  24. Anyhow, very few ‘piskies are Christians. No Christian would think thusly about my Blessed Mother.

    They are who they are because Henry VIII couldn’t divorce or behead and serially marry eight women and not get ex-communicated.

  25. Sadly, T Shaw, Henry VIII could do those things today and not get excommunicated. After all, Donald’s “favorite” governor openly supports the infanticide of the unborn – and so does his NYS comrade Cuomo – and they aren’t publicly excommunicated. VP Biden supports the same and isn’t excommunicated. The list is almost endless.

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