Well, it’s only nine months to Christmas!…As of yesterday.
I would have posted this entry yesterday, March 25th, if I’d hit the right button at the end of my “admin page” but I didn’t. So, as they say, “better late than never”.
Yesterday, March 25th was the Feast of the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the liturgical calendar, it holds the rank of Solemnity: the highest of all liturgical days. If it falls during Holy Week it is transferred to the nearest “free day”; i.e., the Monday after Low Sunday ( I’ll explain that in a future entry.)
It is the day that the Church evolved in her calendar to mark with plain realism the conception of the Incarnate Son of God in the womb of the Virgin Mary exactly nine months before Christmas. The scene is given to us in the Gospel of Saint Luke and so well loved was it that the day and its central event entered into the very history of western Christendom and its culture. Few artists over the centuries could resist painting it; museums of medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and even more modern art are replete with “Annunciations” from the hands of countless masters.
The most beloved Catholic prayer, the Hail Mary, is essentially the Annunciation in its text. The Angelus, prayers in honor of the Annunciation, still rings out in many churches at noon.
This Feast was so highly regarded that for centuries it marked the first day of the civil year! Hence the naming of September, October, November, December ( “Seventh…Eighth…Ninth …Tenth months”) while now, of course, they are 9th…10th…11th..and 12th months. As late as the 18th century March 25th, “Lady Day” was the first day of the year in some places.
This feast marks the beginning of The Greatest Story Ever Told and recalls us in the midst of Lent to the astounding and tender fact that God’s plan of Redemption sought, prepared, and received the consent of Mary to open her heart and her very body to the Holy Spirit to effect within her the conception of the God-Man.
Let us make her reply our own….Fiat mihi!!!…Let it be done to me according to your word!
March 26, 2011