Sunday, December 21, 2008

"He was born of the Virgin Mary..."

By the power of the Holy Spirit, (BOW)
He was born of the Virgin Mary
And became man

Every missal I've seen includes an italicized "BOW" at this part of the Creed, yet few people do it. I see nearly everyone genuflect before entering a pew (which isn't in the missal), but hardly anyone make a bow during the Creed. I can only assume that few people have used a missal. I'll further assume that even fewer know why to bow.

For years, I've bowed at that point because the missal told me to do so, but I didn't know why. I realized during mass today why we bow, so I thought I'd share.

The readings about ''Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant'' were a good primer for this train of thought, as well as the priest reading an excerpt from Cardinal Ratzinger's "Blessings of Christmas". Here's the quote that finished my train of thought:

What can we offer you, O Christ, for having been born for us on earth as a Man? Each creature, the work of your hands, offers you a sign of gratitude: the angels, their hymn; the heavens, the star; the Magi, their gifts; the shepherds, their admiration; the earth, the cave; the desert, the manger; and all mankind, we offer you a virgin mother. --Blessings of Christmas
King David's "Who am I that the Ark of the Lord should come to me?", the angel's "Hail Mary" greeting, along with the signs of gratitude from the quote (hymn, star, gifts, etc) all painted a picture in my head of the joy on Earth as everything bowed at Jesus's birth.

And at that point I remembered the words from the Creed: "By the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary and became man..." This may sound obvious, but I hadn't connected the two until today: that line of the Creed is describing Christmas. And that is why we bow. We weren't around at the first Christmas, so we missed our chance to join the angels and the heavens and the shepherds as they bowed before the newborn King. But we do have a chance to join everyone from our generation in bowing every Sunday as we recite the Creed.

There. Now don't you feel better about bowing now that you know why we bow? And FYI, at Christmas, instead of bowing, we genuflect.


Nathan said...

Thank you, Harvey, that was quite lovely. Hmm... since when do I say lovely? I must be up too late. Well, it was nice anyway.

Nathan said...

I just noticed that this blog is in a different time zone! My clock says 11:22 PM.

Stephanie said...

I never knew why we bowed either. Thank you for sharing that.