“…And Mary said to the angel, ‘How shall this be, since I have no husband?’ And the angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” (Lk 1: 34-38)

The “mystery” or “sacrament” of the Virgin Birth, that is, of the Most Holy Virgin’s “vocation,” raises an understandable, human question: “How shall this be…?” It is similar to the question(s) raised by Nicodemus in John 3, when our Lord talks to him about another “mystery” or “sacrament,” of Baptism. Nicodemus asks: “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (Jn 3: 4) And our Lord’s response to Nicodemus, like the angel’s response to the Theotokos’s question, refers to the Holy Spirit, with Whom “nothing will be impossible.” As Christ explains to Nicodemus, “…Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew/from above.’ The Spirit blows where he wills, and you hear the sound of him, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.” (Jn 3: 7-8) …But Nicodemus, somewhat differently from the Theotokos, continues to ask, “How can this be?” (Jn 3: 9)

When I’m confronted with God’s “mysteries,” including the unexpected twists and turns of my “vocation,” now being lived in a locked-down Vienna with no public church-services, I might find myself asking, “How shall this be?” But let me be reminded that God, the Holy Spirit, does “blow” us in unexpected directions at times, as He wills, and that in Him “nothing will be impossible,” if only we let ourselves be carried by Him. So in the timeless words of Bob Dylan: “The answer, my friend, is blowing in the Wind; the answer is blowing in the Wind.” Happy Annunciation, NC-friends, and Mid-Lenten Wednesday! Tune in to our daily, weekday “Morning Coffee” audio-podcasts, for some daily inspiration on your Lenten journey, and through this Coronavirus epidemic! Sign up at: Love from Vienna, and please wash your hands & take heart, Sister Vassa