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[Celebrated 25 March,
nine (9) months before the Nativity]

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The Annunciation - by Leonardo da Vinci - from Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

 

Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. Upon arriving, the angel said to her: "Rejoice, O highly favored daughter! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women." She was deeply troubled by his words, and wondered what his greeting meant. The angel went on to say to her: "Do not fear, Mary. You have found favor with God. You shall conceive and bear a Son and give Him the name Jesus. Great will be His dignity and He will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of David His father. He will rule over the house of Jacob forever and His reign will be without end."

Mary said to the angel, "How can this be since I do not know man?" The angel answered her: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; hence, the holy offspring to be born will be called Son of God. Know that Elizabeth your kinswoman has conceived a son in her old age; she who was thought to be sterile is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible with God."

Mary said: "I am the maidservant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say." With that the angel left her.

 

The Annunciation of the Lord

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crucifixion3.jpg (1600 bytes)Luke the Evangelist tells us that in the sixth month after the conception of Saint John the Baptist by Elizabeth, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to the Virgin Mary, at Nazareth, a small town in the mountains of Galilee. Mary was of the house of David, and was espoused to Joseph, of the same royal family. She had, however, not yet entered the household of her spouse, but was still in her mother's house, working, perhaps, over her dowry. And the angel having taken the figure and the form of man, came into the house and said to her: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee." Mary having heard the greeting words did not speak; she was troubled in spirit, since she knew not the angel, nor the cause of his coming, nor the meaning of the salutation. And the angel continued and said: "Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a Son; and thou shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David His father - and He shall reign in the house of Jacob forever. And of His kingdom there shall be no end." The Virgin understood that there was question of the coming Redeemer. But, why should she be elected from amongst women for the splendid dignity of being the mother of the Messiah, having vowed her virginity to God? (Saint Augustine). Therefore, not doubting the word, but filled with fear and astonishment, she said: "How shall this be done, because I know not man?"

The
angel, to remove Mary's anxiety and to assure her that her virginity, which she had vowed to God, would be spared, answered: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy One which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." In token of the truth of his word he made known to her the conception of Saint John, the miraculous pregnancy of her relative now old and sterile: "And behold, thy cousin Elizabeth; she also has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: because no word shall be impossible with God." Mary may not yet have fully understood the meaning of the heavenly message and how the maternity might be reconciled with her vow of virginity, but clinging to the first words of the angel and trusting to the Omnipotence of God she said: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word."

The Annunciation is the beginning of Jesus in His human nature. Through His mother Mary, He is a member of the human race. About to establish  a new generation of "children of God", the Redeemer does not arrive in the way of earthly generations: the power of the Holy Spirit enters the chaste womb of the Virgin, forming the humanity of Christ. Many holy fathers (Saints Jerome, Cyril, Ephrem, Augustine) say that the consent of Mary was essential to the Redemption. It was the will of God, Saint Thomas says, that the redemption of mankind should depend upon the consent of the Virgin Mary. This does not mean that God in His plans was bound by the will of a human creature, and that man would not have been redeemed, if Mary had not consented. It only means that the consent of Mary was foreseen from all eternity, and therefore was received as essential into the design of God.

 

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The Annunciation - by Pedro Berruguete, from the Monastery of Miraflores, Burgos . . . .
In this depiction of the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel announces the Will of God
to Mary, whose purity is symbolized by the white lilies, and whose prior knowledge
of the Messiah is symbolized by the Holy Book at the right containing the words of
the inspired writers of Genesis and Isaiah, of which she had intimate prior knowledge.
The Holy Spirit is depicted above Gabriel, awaiting Mary's 'fiat'.

 

Annunciation Novena

I greet you, Ever-blessed Virgin, Mother of God, Throne of Grace, miracle of Almighty Power! I greet you, Sanctuary of the Most Holy Trinity and Queen of the Universe, Mother of Mercy and refuge of sinners!

Most loving Mother, attracted by your beauty and sweetness, and by your tender compassion, I confidently turn to you, miserable as I am, and beg of you to obtain for me from your dear Son the favor I request in this novena:

(mention your request).

Obtain for me also, Queen of Heaven, the most lively contrition for my many sins and the grace to imitate closely those virtues which you practiced so faithfully, especially humility, purity and obedience. Above all, I beg you to be my Mother and Protectress, to receive me into the number of your devoted children, and to guide me from your high throne of glory.

Do not reject my petitions, Mother of Mercy! Have pity on me, and do not abandon me during life or at the moment of my death.

Amen