Posted by: L. E. Barnes | March 25, 2010

The Annunciation

Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ.
Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto.

(The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.

And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.)

Today is the feast of the Annunciation. This feast, observed since at least the fifth century, comes nine months before Christmas and commemorates the events related in Luke 1:28-38. Lives of the Saints explains:

On this day the Church commemorates the coming of the Archangel Gabriel to announce to the Blessed Virgin that she was to be the Mother of the promised Redeemer. On this same day, God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, by the power of the Holy Spirit, assumed a human body and a human soul, and became the Son of Mary.

This date is, therefore, a double feast, the Annunciation of the maternity of the Blessed Virgin, and the Incarnation of the Son of God. The Angel of the Incarnation was sent to that maiden of Nazareth who, deeming herself least worthy among the daughters of Zion, had been chosen by her Creator to be the most blessed among women…

Mary bowed her head and will to the Divine decree, and at that instant the great fact of the Incarnation was accomplished. A Virgin of the House of David had become the Mother of God. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity had become Man, man like unto us in all things save sin. The fact of the Incarnation proves that Mary is the Mother of God. He Who was born Man of her is God, and Mary is His Mother; She is the mother of the Divine Redeemer of the world; she is the Mother of our Divine Lord and Master; she is the Mother of the Savior and our Perfect Friend; she is the Mother of the Savior Who shed His Precious Blood for us on Calvary.


The Annunciation

The lines at the beginning of this post are the first lines of the Angelus, a centuries-old prayer traditionally recited three times daily (morning, afternoon, and evening). I’ve gotten into the habit of praying it while I shower each morning as a way of starting my day off on the right spiritual note. May we readily submit to God’s will as Mary did: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to thy word.”

Jean-Francois Millet’s famous 1857 painting (below) depicts a peasant man and woman praying the Angelus.

The Angelus


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