Words on the Word
Sts Joachim and Anne
In Christian iconography, St Anne is often portrayed teaching her daughter to read. Sometimes St Joachim is there, following the lesson; sometimes he is absent, out and about doing something purposeful, no doubt. She whom the litany calls Arca Foederis had to learn to read to have direct access to God’s word, his enbibled testament. The great merit of Joachim and Anne was this: they prepared and enabled the Blessed Virgin Mary to configure her mind and heart to God’s heart and mind, and so to assume the great task God had in store for her. Remembering them, we recall that the Virgin’s Fiat did not arise out of nothing. She had to be readied for it, and that readying was in part an intellectual process, equipping her to recognise and understand the nature of divine action. As monks and nuns, we live a life founded on tradition. Thus, the ministry of Joachim and Anne is one we are all, in one way or another, called to assume. We are responsible not just for enacting our own assent to God’s call in the form of a Suscipe; we are also responsible for helping others enact theirs. We are called to share the gifts we have received, to make our talent increase, then pass on the capital, to nurture the realisation of others’ potential. If that isn’t a noble and a joyful task, I don’t know what is.