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The Annunciation – Feast of the Day – 25th March

The Annunciation is the prologue to the mysteries of Holy Week: the Incarnation happened so that we could be redeemed; the child conceived on this day was born to die for our sins and conquer death.

“He took the nature of a servant without stain of sin, enlarging our humanity without diminishing his divinity. He emptied himself; though invisible he made himself visible, though Creator and Lord of all things he chose to be one of us mortal men. Yet this was the condescension of compassion, not the loss of omnipotence. So he who in the nature of God had created man, became in the nature of a servant, man himself.”

– From a letter of Saint Leo the Great, pope, in today’s Second Reading in the Office of Readings.

What is the Annunciation?

Today’s feast is extracted from Saints of the Roman Calendar by Fr Nicholas Schofield.

On the floor of the Holy House in Nazareth, an inscription reads ‘Verbum caro hic factum est’; ‘the Word was made flesh here’. When the Blessed Virgin said ‘yes’ to the Angel Gabriel, the Word became flesh and dwelt in her womb for nine months. The Annunciation is the prologue to the mysteries of Holy Week: the Incarnation happened so that we could be redeemed; the child conceived on this day was born to die for our sins and conquer death.

Collect for the Annunciation

O God, who willed that your Word should take on the reality of human flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, grant, we pray, that we, who confess our Redeemer to be God and man, may merit to become partakers even in his divine nature. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Collecta

Deus, qui Verbum tuum in utero Virginis Mariæ veritatem carnis humanæ suscipere voluisti, concede, quæsumus, ut, qui Redemptorem nostrum Deum et hominem confitemur, ipsius etiam divinæ naturæ mereamur esse consortes. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum.

Today’s Gospel: Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, “Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the angel answered, ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth also, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary, ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

We Must Let God Surprise Us: Pope Francis’ Reflection on the Annunciation

Written by Pope Francis and extracted from The Rosary With Pope Francis.

At the message of the angel, [Mary] does not hide her surprise. It is the astonishment of realizing that God, to become man, had chosen her, a simple maid of Nazareth. Not someone who lived in a palace amid power and riches, or one who had done extraordinary things, but simply someone who was open to God and put her trust in him, even without understanding everything: “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). That was her answer. God constantly surprises us, he bursts our categories, he wreaks havoc with our plans. And he tells us: Trust me, do not be afraid, let yourself be surprised, leave yourself behind and follow me!

Today let us all ask ourselves whether we are afraid of what God might ask, or of what he does ask. Do I let myself be surprised by God, as Mary was, or do I remain caught up in my own safety zone: in forms of material, intellectual or ideological security, taking refuge in my own projects and plans? Do I truly let God into my life? How do I answer him?

Let us invoke Mary’s intercession. May she help us to be open to God’s surprises, to be faithful to him each and every day, and to praise and thank him, for he is our strength. Amen.

(Pope Francis, Homily of 13 October 2013)

I Syng of a Mayden: A Medieval Poem Celebrating the Annunciation

This poem is extracted from our Marian Prayer Book, a treasury of prayers to Mary.

“I syng of a mayden” is a much-admired medieval English composition, celebrating the Annunciation by the Angel Gabriel to Mary, and the birth of Christ. Join your prayer with the many voices who have prayed it over the centuries and let it deepen your devotion to Mary in the Annunciation.

I sing of a maiden
That is matchless,
King of all kings
For her son she chose.

He came as still
Where his mother was
As dew in April
That falls on the grass.

He came as still
To his mother’s bower
As dew in April
That falls on the flower.

He came as still
Where his mother lay
As dew in April
That falls on the spray.

Mother and maiden
There was never, ever one but she;
Well may such a lady
God’s mother be.

Marian Prayer Book

The Rosary with Pope Francis

Saints of the Roman Calendar (ebook)


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