‘God This week brings us to the feast of the Annunciation on March 25. While it is a Marian moment in the Church’s calendar, it is truly a feast of the Lord. This day celebrates the instant that the Eternal Word took our fallen humanity into an indestructible bond with His divinity and became flesh, became a man. Eternally consubstantial with His Father, the Son was suddenly also consubstantial with His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In the traditional Roman calendar, the day before is fittingly the feast of the Archangel Gabriel, the angel of the Annunciation.
Christians have from the earliest centuries pondered the Annunciation. There is a 2nd-century painting of the Annunciation in the catacombs of Priscilla in Rome. The feast was celebrated in the 4th century. Outside Paschaltide, we Catholics say (or ought to say) three times a day the meditation on the Annunciation – called, from its first word in Latin, the Angelus. We have beautiful meditations upon this mystery in art and in hymns.
Speaking of Gabriel, here is a snippet from the fascinating Eastern liturgical Kanon of the Annunciation of the Theotokos (Mother of God) by the 9th-century Theophanes Graptos, “the Branded”. The Virgin and the Archangel Gabriel are in dialogue. The Blessed Virgin represents the Temple, the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant, images of the Church.
The Theotokos said: “Thou bringest me good tidings of divine joy: that Immaterial Light, in His abundant compassion, will be united to a material body. And now thou criest out to me: all-pure one, blessed is the fruit of thy womb!”
The Archangel said: “Rejoice, lady; rejoice, most pure virgin! Rejoice, God-containing vessel! Rejoice, candlestick of the light, the restoration of Adam, and the deliverance of Eve! Rejoice, holy mountain, shining sanctuary! Rejoice, bridal chamber of immortality!”
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