Saturday, March 25, 2017
Solemnity of the Annunciation
Annunciation by Lanfranco, 1616AD. This image is found in the Church of San Carlo ai Catinari in Rome, Italy.
This great Feast of the Annunciation falls on 25 March, some nine months before Christmas. It is on this day that the Blessed Virgin Mary received the message of the Archangel Gabriel, and "the Word was flesh and dwelt among us."
The Gospel of St. Luke recalls this profound moment of the Annunciation that this feast commemorates:
"Chapter 1:26 When the sixth month came, God sent the angel Gabriel to a city of Galilee called Nazareth, 27 where a virgin dwelt, betrothed to a man of David’s lineage; his name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 Into her presence the angel came, and said, Hail, thou who art full of grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women. 29 She was much perplexed at hearing him speak so, and cast about in her mind, what she was to make of such a greeting. 30 Then the angel said to her, Mary, do not be afraid; thou hast found favour in the sight of God. 31 And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call him Jesus. 32 He shall be great, and men will know him for the Son of the most High; the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob eternally; 33 his kingdom shall never have an end.34 But Mary said to the angel, How can that be, since I have no knowledge of man? 35 And the angel answered her, The Holy Spirit will come upon thee, and the power of the most High will overshadow thee. Thus this holy offspring of thine shall be known for the Son of God. 36 See, moreover, how it fares with thy cousin Elizabeth; she is old, yet she too has conceived a son; she who was reproached with barrenness is now in her sixth month, 37 to prove that nothing can be impossible with God. 38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be unto me according to thy word. And with that the angel left her."
Historically, until the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1751AD, the Annunciation, 25 March, was the first day of the New Year on the Civil calendar in the English world.
All the same, it is on this day that the Incarnation took place. The Fiat, the "let it be," of the Blessed Virgin Mary, has begun the process of our salvation!
For more on the Feast, you might note:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Annunciation
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Feast of the Annunciation
Fish Eaters: Annunciation