Lenten Thoughts – 25 March – The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
Mary’s Fiat, must be our Fiat
Mary’s fiat– her faithful “Here am I,” which does not replace her perplexity at her conception of God made human but overcomes it– is an announcement in itself. In fact, her announcement, is the most important one of today’s Gospel reading. Let it be our announcement, too, then, for it is appropriate at all times and at any time. And now, our brief, prayerful, announcement: “Here [are we], the servant[s] of the Lord, let it be done to [us] according to your word.”
I delight to do thy will, O my God, thy law is within my heart.
“God Himself is the one Who takes the initiative and chooses to enter, as He did with Mary, into our homes, our daily struggles, filled with anxiety and with desires. And it is within our cities, in our schools and universities, our squares and hospitals, that the most beautiful announcement we can hear is made: “Rejoice, the Lord is with you”. A joy that generates life, that generates hope, that is made flesh in the way we look to the future, in the attitude with which we look at others. A joy that becomes solidarity, hospitality, mercy towards all.”
Pope Francis – Solemnity of the Annunciation of Our Lord, 25 March 2017
Three times daily, at 6 am, noon and 6 pm, we pray the Angelus. It is still accompanied by the ringing of a bell (the Angelus bell) in some places such as Vatican City and parts of Germany, Belgium, France, Spain and Ireland. The Regina Coeli prayer (which may also be sung as a hymn) replaces the Angelus during the Easter season.
V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace,
The Lord is with Thee;
Blessed art thou among women,
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death. Amen
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to thy word.
Hail Mary, etc.
V. And the Word was made Flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary, etc.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. LET US PRAY
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Thought for the Day – 25 March – The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
Together with Jesus, the privileged and graced Mary is the link between heaven and earth. She is the human being who best, after Jesus, exemplifies the possibilities of human existence. She received into her lowliness the infinite love of God. She shows how, an ordinary human being, can reflect God in the ordinary circumstances of life. She exemplifies what the Church and every member of the Church is meant to become. She is the ultimate product of the creative and redemptive power of God. She manifests what the Incarnation is meant to accomplish for all of us.
Sometimes spiritual writers are accused of putting Mary on a pedestal and thereby, discouraging ordinary humans from imitating her. Perhaps, such an observation is misguided. God did put Mary on a pedestal and has put all human beings on a pedestal. We have scarcely begun to realise the magnificence of divine grace, the wonder of God’s freely given love. The marvel of Mary—even in the midst of her very ordinary life—is God’s shout to us, to wake up, to the marvellous creatures that we all are by divine design.
Quote/s of the Day – 25 March – The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
“And so when God’s birth is proclaimed to you, keep silent. Let Gabriel’s word be held in your mind for nothing is impossible to this glorious Majesty, who humbled Himself for us and was born of our humanity.”
“God assumed smallness in her – yet without diminishing His nature – to make us great!”
“In her, God spun a garment with which to save us.”
Saint Ephrem (306-373) Father & Doctor
“Him, whom the heavens cannot contain, the womb of one woman bore. She ruled our Ruler, she carried Him, in whom we are, she gave milk to our Bread.”
St Augustine (354-430)
“The scene of the Annunciation merits consideration for another reason, too, it is not only wholly Christological;, it is wholly trinitarian as well… The angel’s initial salutation… brings her the greeting of the ‘Lord’, the Father… she will give birth to the ‘Son of the Most High’… the Holy Spirit will overshadow her…”
Cardinal Hans Urs Von Balthasar (1905-1988)
“The Annunciation, recounted at the beginning of St Luke’s Gospel, is a humble, hidden event – no-one saw it, no one except Mary knew of it – but, at the same time, it was crucial to the history of humanity. When the Virgin said her “yes” to the Angel’s announcement, Jesus was conceived and with Him began the new era of history that was to be ratified in Easter as the “new and eternal Covenant”.
Pope Benedict XVI
Angelus St Peter’s Square, Fifth Sunday of Lent, 25 March 2007
One Minute Reflection – 25 March – The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word.”...Luke 1:38
REFLECTION – “The icon of the Annunciation, more than any other, helps us to see clearly how everything in the Church goes back to that mystery of Mary’s acceptance of the divine Word, by which, through the action of the Holy Spirit, the Covenant between God and humanity was perfectly sealed. Everything in the Church, every institution and ministry, including that of Peter and his Successors, is “included” under the Virgin’s mantle, within the grace-filled horizon of her “yes” to God’s will. This link with Mary naturally evokes a strong affective resonance in all of us but first of all it has an objective value….
Everything in this world will pass away. In eternity only Love will remain. For this reason, … taking the opportunity offered by this favourable time of Lent, let us commit ourselves to ensure that everything in our personal lives and in the ecclesial activity in which we are engaged is inspired by charity and leads to charity. In this respect too, we are enlightened by the mystery that we are celebrating today.
Indeed, the first thing that Mary did after receiving the Angel’s message was to go “in haste” to the house of her cousin Elizabeth in order to be of service to her (cf. Lk 1: 39). The Virgin’s initiative was one of genuine charity, it was humble and courageous, motivated by faith in God’s Word and the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit. Those who love, forget about themselves and place themselves at the service of their neighbour. Here we have the image and model of the Church!”…Pope Benedict XVI – Excerpt- Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, Saint Peter’s Square, Saturday, 25 March 2006
PRAYER – Shape us in the likeness of the Divine nature of our Redeemer, whom we believe to be true God and true man, since it was Your will, Lord God, that He, Your Word, should take to Himself, our human nature in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for always and forever, amen.
Lenten Reflection – 25 March – The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
Daily Meditation: Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
Today we step out of Lent, in one way.
We are nine months away from Christmas.
This is the feast of the Incarnation – the enfleshment of our God for us.
In Jesus, God entered this world, our world.
This day thereby offers wonderful Lenten graces.
Ahaz has his own plans.
He refuses to ask God for help, because he doesn’t want God’s help.
And, of course, he makes it sound pious.
There’s fruit in that for all of us, whenever we refuse to ask for God’s help.
Mary, on the other hand, is God’s servant.
She is humble and she says “yes.”
And God, for whom “nothing is impossible, does the rest.
I delight to do thy will, O my God, thy law is within my heart.
“The Mighty One has done great things for me” (Lk 1:49)
Saint Ephrem (306-373) Doctor of the Church Sermons on the Mother of God, 2, 93-145
Contemplate Mary, my beloved, see how Gabriel went into her house and her questioning: “How can this be?” The Holy Spirit’s servant gave her this answer: “Nothing is impossible for God, for him, all is easy.” Consider how she believed the word she had heard and said: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord.” From that moment the Lord descended in a way known to Him alone, He bestirred Himself and came according to His good pleasure, He entered her without her feeling it and she opened herself to Him without experiencing any suffering. She bore within herself, as a child, Him by whom the world was filled. He descended to become the model that would renew Adam’s ancient image.
And so when God’s birth is proclaimed to you, keep silent. Let Gabriel’s word be held in your mind for nothing is impossible to this glorious Majesty, who humbled Himself for us and was born of our humanity. Today, Mary became God’s heaven for us, in that the sublime Divinity came down and placed His dwelling within her. God assumed smallness in her – yet without diminishing His nature – to make us great. In her, God spun a garment with which to save us. All the words of the prophets and just ones were fulfilled in her. From her, arose the light that drove away the shadows of paganism.
Mary’s titles are numberless… she is the palace in which the mighty King of kings abode, yet He did not cast her out when He came, because it was from her that He took flesh and was born. She is the new heaven in which dwelt the King of kings, in her Christ arose and from her rose up to enlighten creation, formed and fashioned in His image. She is the stock of the vine that bore the grape, she yielded a fruit greater than nature, and He, although other than her in His nature, ripened in colour on being born of her. She is the spring from which living waters sprang up for the thirsty and all those who drank them yielded fruit a hundredfold.
God of infinite love,
I thank You for this feast of our salvation,
right here in the middle of Lent.
I turn to You to beg for Your help.
I need the inspiration and help of Mary on this journey.
Please grant me the grace to be humbly faithful
to what You are calling me to do.
Please give me what I need to be free and to be Your servant.
Please let Mary guide us in the path to peace in our world.
I ask You this, through Jesus our Lord.
May the Lord bless us,
protect us from all evil
and bring us to everlasting life.
Our Morning Offering – 25 March – The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord –
Prayer to Our Lady of the Annunciation By Blessed James Alberione (1884-1971) (The founder of the Daughters of St Paul)
Queen of heaven and earth,
daughter of the Father,
Mother of the divine Son,
spouse of the Holy Spirit,
I praise God
for the unique grace given to you.
Mary, you became the great Mother
of our divine Saviour,
our Master, true Light of the world,
source of all Truth and first Apostle of Truth.
You gave the world
the book to read, the eternal Word.
For this I bless the holy Trinity
and I ask you to obtain for me
the grace of heavenly wisdom,
to be a fervent disciple of Jesus
and to be lovingly devoted to the Church,
the pillar of truth.
Make the light of the Gospel
shine to the farthest bounds of the earth.
Queen of the Apostles, pray for us!
The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord – 25 March
Again Lent’s austerity is interrupted as we solemnly keep a feast in honour of the Annunciation. The Annunciation is a mystery that belongs to the temporal rather than to the sanctoral cycle in the Church’s calendar. For the feast commemorates the most sublime moment in the history of time, the moment when the Second Divine Person of the most Holy Trinity assumed human nature in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Thus it is a feast of our Lord, even as it is of Mary, although the liturgy centres wholly around the Mother of God.
The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch
The Annunciation, a tradition which has come down from the apostolic ages, tells us that the great mystery of the Incarnation was achieved on the twenty-fifth day of March. It was at the hour of midnight, when the most holy Virgin was alone and absorbed in prayer, that the Archangel Gabriel appeared before her and asked her, in the name of the blessed Trinity, to consent to become the Mother of God. Let us assist, in spirit, at this wonderful interview between the angel and the Virgin and, at the same time, let us think of that other interview which took place between Eve and the serpent. A holy bishop and martyr of the second century, Saint Irenaeus, who had received the tradition from the very disciples of the apostles, shows us that Nazareth is the counterpart of Eden.
In the garden of delights there is a virgin and an angel and a conversation takes place-between them. At Nazareth a virgin is also addressed by an angel and she answers him but the angel of the earthly paradise is a spirit of darkness and he of Nazareth is a spirit of light. In both instances it is the angel that has the first word. ‘Why,’ said the serpent to Eve, ‘hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree of paradise?’ His question implies impatience and a solicitation to evil, he has contempt for the frail creature to whom he addresses it but he hates the image of God, which is upon her.
See, on the other hand, the angel of light, see with what composure and peacefulness he approaches the Virgin of Nazareth, the new Eve and how respectfully he bows himself down before her: ‘Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women!’ Such language is evidently of heaven, none but an angel could speak thus to Mary.
Scarcely has the wicked spirit finished speaking than Eve casts a longing look at the forbidden fruit, she is impatient to enjoy the independence it is to bring her. She rashly stretches forth her hand, she plucks the fruit, she eats it and death takes possession of her, death of the soul, for sin extinguishes the light of life and death of the body, which being separated from the source of immortality, becomes an object of shame and horror and finally crumbles into dust.
But let us turn away our eyes from this sad spectacle and fix them on Nazareth. Mary has heard the angel’s explanation of the mystery, the will of heaven is made known to her and how grand an honour it is to bring upon her! She, the humble maid of Nazareth, is to have the ineffable happiness of becoming the Mother of God and yet, the treasure of her virginity is to be left to her! Mary bows down before this sovereign will and says to the heavenly messenger: ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word.’
Thus, as the great St Irenaeus and so many of the holy fathers remark, the obedience of the second Eve repaired the disobedience of the first, for no sooner does the Virgin of Nazareth speak her fiat, ‘be it done,’ than the eternal Son of God (who, according to the divine decree, awaited this word) is present, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, in the chaste womb of Mary and there, He begins His human life. A Virgin is a Mother and Mother of Go; and it is this Virgin’s consenting to the divine will, that has made her conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost. This sublime mystery puts between the eternal Word and a mere woman the relations of Son and Mother, it gives to the almighty God a means whereby He may, in a manner worthy of His majesty, triumph over satan, who hitherto seemed to have prevailed against the divine plan.
Never was there a more entire or humiliating defeat than that which this day befell satan. The frail creature, over whom he had so easily triumphed at the beginning of the world, now rises and crushes his proud head. Eve conquers in Mary. God would not choose man for the instrument of His vengeance, the humiliation of satan would not have been great enough and, therefore, she who was the first prey of hell, the first victim of the tempter, is selected to give battle to the enemy. The result of so glorious a triumph, is that Mary, is to be superior not only to the rebel angels but to the whole human race, yea, to all the angels of heaven. Seated on her exalted throne, she, the Mother of God, is to be the Queen of all creation. Satan, in the depths of the abyss, will eternally bewail his having dared to direct his first attack against the woman, for God has now so gloriously avenged her and in heaven, the very Cherubim and Seraphim reverently look up to Mary and deem themselves honoured when she smiles upon them, or employs them in the execution of any of her wishes, for she is the Mother of their God.
Therefore, is it that we, the children of Adam, who have been snatched by Mary’s obedience from the power of hell, solemnise this day of the Annunciation. Well may we say of Mary those words of Debbora, when she sang her song of victory over the enemies of God’s people: ‘The valiant men ceased and rested in Israel, until Debbora arose, a mother arose in Israel. The Lord chose new wars, and He Himself overthrew the gates of the enemies.” Let us also refer to the holy Mother of Jesus these words of Judith, who by her victory over the enemy was another type of Mary: ‘Praise ye the Lord our God, who hath not forsaken them that hope in Him. And by me, His handmaid, He hath fulfilled His mercy, which He promised to the house of Israel and He hath killed the enemy of His people by my hand this night. . . . The almighty Lord hath struck him, and hath delivered him into the hands of a woman, and hath slain him.’
–Excerpted from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger OSB