Today is the beginning of our salvation,

The revelation of the eternal mystery!

The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin.

As Gabriel announces the coming of Grace.

Together with him let us cry to the Theotokos:

Rejoice, O Full of Grace,

The Lord is with You!

(Troparion, Tone 4)

Annunciation Icon 2013.jpg

Indeed, today is the beginning of salvation history. As St Luke’s gospel (1:26-38) reveals, and as other languages portray the Incarnation, we’ve received “good tidings.” From the moment the angel’s message was received positively by Mary cosmic history has never been the same. March 25 is the solemnity of the Annunciation to the Mary that she’s be the Mother of God (the most Holy Theotokos). And it’s Holy Week followed by Eastertide, the Church will observe this solemn occasion on April 8. Nevertheless, a word or two need to be said about the Annunciation.

Liturgical history tells us that there exists a 2nd century painting of the Annunciation in the catacomb of Priscilla. And more widely celebrated since the 4th century, the Christian community has observed the Annunciation as  a solemn day of grace.

Ecclesiastical history bears witness to the Council of Toledo in 656 mentioning the Feast in Spain and then at the Council in Trullo in 692 indicating the Church there having a celebration of the Annunciation even though it was Lent. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council spoke about the Marian principle of the Church as being fundamental to the life of the Church (see the conclusion of Lumen Gentium), even more important that the Petrine principles because what we believe to be true about the Incarnation. 

On the Annunciation, the Knights of Columbus pray for the unborn children and the work of being pro Life.

The feast testifies that God fulfills His promise to send a Redeemer (Genesis 3:15): “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed; he shall crush your head, and you shall lie in wait for his heel.” What the prophets and teachers of the Law believed and taught the people of Israel, was given by Gabriel’s announcement; and in the Christian dispensation the Fathers of the Church have taught that what is called “her seed” to refer to Jesus. Here is an unmistakable theological view that Jesus is the new Adam, the new tree of life, the new Law, the new Lawgiver, the new face of God.

Gabriel sent by God to Nazareth to a Virgin who was betrothed to Joseph, heard: “Hail, You who are highly favored, the Lord is with you: blessed are you among women. And, behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and give birth to a son, and shall name Him, 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 his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Then said Mary to the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34).

c. 1437-1446

“And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you: therefore also that which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, your cousin Elisabeth hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1: 35-38).” Thus, Mary becomes the new Eve.

These words ought to be recognizable as the foundation for the prayers of the Hail, Mary and the Angelus, prayers offered several times daily. The feast of the Annunciation is another day of Lenten mercy when the penances are relaxed for the day. In the Byzantine Church, the Liturgy of St Basil speaks of salvation history as “When man disobeyed Thee, the only true God who had created him, and was deceived by the guile of the serpent, becoming subject to death by his own transgressions, Thou, O God, in Thy righteous judgment, didst send him forth from Paradise into this world, returning him to the earth from which he was taken, yet providing for him the salvation of regeneration in Thy Christ Himself.”

The Annunciation icon (the first show here) shows the Archangel with a staff in his left hand, indicating his role as a messenger, for that is what an angel does, he “messages” what God has said. Here the action of the Holy Spirit is clearly seen in uniting the covenants in this announcement to Mary and her yes. Mary’s yes objectively governs everything the Church is, and everything she authentically does.  The yes is the sign of the generous life of the Trinity. Here the yes is shown in the use of the ring for bishops, cardinals and abbots and abbesses.

The Mother of God is depicted either standing or sitting, typically holding yarn in her left hand. Moreover, she is often shown holding a scroll. Her right hand may be raised to indicate her surprise at the message she is hearing. Mary’s head bowed showing her fiat, her yes, that is, her unconditional consent and obedience. The descent of the Holy Spirit upon her is depicted by a ray of light issuing from a small sphere at the top of the icon symbolizing heaven.

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