The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord – 25 March
Abbot Prosper Guéranger OSB (1805-1875) narrates:
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 unto 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 God 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.’
Our Lady of Betania:
The name Betania means Bethany in Spanish. It was originally given this name by Maria Esperanza and was the site of their farm, in Venezuela. Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary were reported and eventually a small Chapel was built there and the faithful began to gather, especially on Feast Days but throughout the year.
St Alfwold of Sherborne
St Barontius of Pistoia
St Desiderius of Pistoia
St Dismas (Crucified with Jesus) “The Good Thief”
St Dula the Slave
Blessed Emilian Kovch (1884-1944) Priest, Martyr
About Bl Emilian:
Bl Everard of Nellenburg
Bl Herman of Zahringen
St Humbert of Pelagius
Bl James Bird
Bl Josaphata Mykhailyna Hordashevska
St Kennocha of Fife
St Lucia Filippini
St Marie-Alphonsine/Mariam Sultaneh Danil Ghattas (1843-1927)
About St Marie-Alphonusine:
St Matrona of Barcelona
St Matrona of Thessaloniki
St Mona of Milan
St Ndre Zadeja
Bl Pawel Januszewski
St Pelagius of Laodicea
Bl Placido Riccardi
St Quirinus of Rome
Bl Tommaso of Costacciaro
262 Martyrs of Rome: A group 262 Christians martyred together in Rome. We know nothing else about them, not even their names.