ON THE FESTIVAL OF THE
ANNUNCIATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY.
THE Church on this day celebrates the
commemoration of the day, ever memorable in the Book of Life, upon
which the holy, angelically pure Virgin Mary received the glorious
announcement that she was chosen to be the Mother of the , Redeemer.
The Church in the Introit exclaims: All the rich among the people
shall entreat thy countenance: after her shall virgins be brought
to the King: her neighbors shall be brought to thee in gladness
and rejoicing. (Ps. xliv.) My heart hath uttered a good word: I
speak my works to the King. Glory be to the Father, &c.
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH.
O God, who wast pleased that Thy Word, at the message of an angel,
should take flesh in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary: grant
us Thy suppliants, that we who believe her to be truly the Mother
of God may be assisted by her intercession with Thee. Thro’.
GOSPEL. (Luke i. 26—38.)
At that time, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of
Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name
was Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was
Mary. And the Angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of
grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women. Who
having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself
what manner of salutation this should be. And the Angel said to
her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God: Behold,
thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son, and
thou shalt call his name 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 David his father: and he shall reign in the house
of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end. And
Mary said to the Angel: How shall this be done, because I know not
man? And the Angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall
come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow
thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall
be called the Son of God. And behold, thy cousin Elizabeth, she
also hath conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth
month with her that is called barren: because no word shall be impossible
with God. And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it
done to me according to thy word.
does the Evangelist so minutely detail the announcement of the Incarnation?
That we may
clearly impress upon our mind, believe in, and meditate upon the
mystery of the Incarnation, upon which depends our eternal salvation.
was an angel sent to Mary?
to her that it was God’s will that His divine Son, in order to redeem
the human race by His sufferings and death, should take human nature
from her, and because the human race, redeemed by Christ, was to
occupy the place made vacant by the fallen angels.
the Incarnation necessary for our redemption?
Yes; for as
God, Christ could not suffer; without an infinitely meritorious
suffering a sufficient satisfaction could not have been rendered
to God, had not the Son of God humiliated Himself before His heavenly
Father, and suffered: this could only be effected by the Incarnation.
This shows the enormity of sin, for which no man however pure, no,
not even an angel, but only a God-Man could atone.
did God require Mary’s consent for the Incarnation of His Son?
To show us
that God forces no one to good, much less to evil; that we might
learn that our good intention and free assent are necessary even
to good works, if we wish them to be meritorious. Venerable Bede
says: that because of her consent God imparted to Mary all, even
the greatest graces, greater than all creatures, angels as well
as men, ever merited.
was Mary troubled at the angel’s message?
of her humility and modesty. She was so humble that she regarded
herself as the least of all creatures, and could not comprehend
how such an honor could be hers. She was so modest, and loved virginal
purity so much that the presence of the angel and his message troubled
her. From this all maidens should see that their loveliest adornments
and most necessary virtues are modesty, humility and love of purity,
which Mary so valued that she would not lose them even to become
the Mother of God.
is meant by the throne of David?
of Christ, of which David’s
government was a representation. (Ps. cxxxi.)
is David called the father of Christ?
descended from the house of David, and, therefore, David according
to nature was the forefather of Christ.
was the real father of Christ?
this properly, we must observe that in Christ there are two natures,
the divine and the human. According to His human nature He had indeed
a mother, but no father, for Joseph was only His foster-father;
according to His divine nature He had no mother, but only a father,
the Heavenly Father.
then, was Christ conceived?
By the overshadowing
and power of the Holy Ghost, who by His divine omnipotence effected
the conception of Him whom Mary was to bring forth.
should we be encouraged by the words: No word shall be impossible
be encouraged to a great confidence in God, who can readily assist
us in the most difficult circumstances, even when help seems impossible,
and He will aid us, if it is beneficial, and if we ask Him. These
words, moreover, admonish us to a firm faith which cannot be shaken
by the most incomprehensible mystery in matters of faith.
does Mary call herself the handmaid of the Lord?
which next to her maidenly modesty was her most remarkable virtue,
which causes St. Bernard to say: “By her purity she pleased God,
and by her humility she conceived Him.”
EXPLANATION OF THE “HAIL MARY” OR THE ANGELIC SALUTATION.
is the “Hail Mary” called the Angelic Salutation?
commences with the words addressed to Mary by the Archangel Gabriel,
when he brought her the message that she was to be the Mother of
what does the Hail Mary consist?
Of the words
of the Archangel Gabriel; of St. Elizabeth’s salutation, when she
was visited by Mary; and of words added by the Catholic Church.
words did the angel say to Mary?
of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women!
is meant by these words?
The word Hail,
that is, Salutation to thee! Peace with thee! or, Joy to thee! expresses
the reverence which the angel had for the Blessed Virgin, and which
we should also cherish. The words: full of grace remind us that
God bestowed more graces upon the Blessed “Virgin than upon all
men and angels together. We should for this reason always pray with
confidence to her to obtain for us, by her powerful intercession,
those graces which are most necessary for our salvation. By the
words: the Lord is with thee, the angel intended to express, that
the Lord was with this maiden not only in His reality, presence,
and omnipotence as with all men, not only in His grace as with the
just, but with the greatest and most extraordinary grace, love and
familiarity. St. Augustine observes: “The angel wished to say: The
Lord is with thee more than with me; the Lord is with thee, so that
He may be in thy heart, in thy body, may fill thy spirit, may fill
thy flesh.” “Could God raise her higher!” St. Bernard here exclaims.
Ah, that the Lord might be with us also, and Mary by her intercession
obtain graces for us! Finally, the words: Blessed art thou amongst
women, mean: thou art the happiest of women, for thou of all thy
sex art chosen to be the Mother of God, at the same time Mother
and Maid. How much is contained in the salutation which one of the
highest spirits surrounding the throne of God, addressed to Mary,
and how much it behooves us to love and daily salute Mary, cur most
were the words used by St. Elizabeth, and what is their signification
repeated the words of the angel: Blessed art thou amongst women,
adding “and blessed is the fruit of thy womb/’ which signified that
Jesus should be glorified, because through Him God would bestow
all spiritual and heavenly blessings upon us.
are the words added by the Church?
“Jesus”, who is the fruit of her womb, by which she wishes us to
offer this prayer to God in the name of Christ; and then she adds
the invocation to Mary: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
do these words mean?
When we say
Holy Mary, we mean to express that Mary is God’s holy and wonderful
work, Daughter of the Heavenly Father, Mother of the Son, and Bride
of the Holy Ghost, and has all her sanctity, beauty, and that great
veneration from the fruit of her womb, Jesus Christ. The glorious
title of Mother of God is given her, because Mary bore not an ordinary
man, but Jesus Christ who is both God and Man.
Therefore from her was born the Son of God, the incarnate God, not
a man who appeared like God, but God in flesh. She is, then, really
and truly the Mother of God, our Lord’s Mother. The Fathers who
had assembled in the holy Council of Chalcedon, to refute Nestorius,
who sought to deprive Mary of the title of Mother of God, called
her “Holy Mary, Mother of God.” Of herself Mary is not holy, and
cannot of herself help us, therefore we say: pray for us, by which
we ask for her powerful intercession; and conscious of our poverty
and sinfulness, call ourselves poor sinners, who turn to Mary, the
Mother of mercy, because we feel ourselves too unworthy to pray
to Christ Himself, and, therefore, entreat this loving mother to
obtain for us amendment of life, remission of sin, consolation
in affliction, remedy in sickness, assistance in need, increase
of grace, preservation, perseverance, and the crown; and may Mary
pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Now, that is, while
the divine mercy is given us, and especially in the hour of death,
when the weapons for battle against the enemy fall from our hands,
and the evil one tempts us the more violently, because he knows
that his time is short, (Apoc. xii. 12.) in that hour on
which depends our eternal welfare or grief. By the word Amen we
affirm that we remain true venerators of the Virgin Mother of God,
and at all times expect grace from God through her intercession.
“Yes,” says St. Bernard, “let us venerate Mary as sincerely, heartily,
and confidently as we can, for such is His will who desired that
we should have all (salvation and redemption in Christ) through
Mary.” The Son will assuredly hear the Mother, and the Father the
Son. Let us, then, strive to rise by her to Him who by her came
down to us!
who hast found grace with God, Mother of life! Mother of salvation!
we have access to the Son, who accepts us from thee, who was given
us by thee — to Jesus Christ, eternally blessed.
ON THE “ANGELUS DOMINI,” THE ANGEL OF THE LORD.
introduced the angelic salutation into the Catholic Church ?
II., who at the Council of Clermont, France, in 1095, ordered that
the bells be rung every day in the morning, at ,
and in the evening, and that at each time the angelic salutation
be repeated. His special intention was to obtain Mary’s protection
for the crusades of the eleventh century, which had for their object
the rescuing of the holy Sepulchre from the hands of the infidels.
These wars are now ended, but the life of the whole Church, of every
Christian, is a crusade against sin and temptation. We always need
Mary’s protection; and, therefore, the custom of repeating the salutation
is still retained in the Church. Formerly at the ringing of the
Angelus, all the faithful fell on their knees, and even now pious
Catholics do the same. St. Charles Borromeo, an archbishop, did
not hesitate to kneel in the open street and repeat the angelic
what does the uAngelus Domini’ consist?
of three Hail Marys: before the first is said: The angel of the
Lord declared unto Mary, and she conceived of the Holy Ghost; before
the second: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me
according to thy word; before the third: and the word was made flesh
and dwelt amongst us.
and how often is the “Angelus Domini” said?
It is said
in order to remind us of Christ’s Incarnation and in thanks for
it; to ask the Blessed Virgin’s maternal protection against all
enemies visible and invisible; to recollect at least three times
in the day, morning, noon and evening, like David, to give praise
to God, and take a little time expressly for prayer, for which purpose
the bells are rung three times a day.
should we say the “Angelus Domini?”
that is, slowly and kneeling (except on Saturday evenings and Sundays,
and during the time of Easter, when it is said standing); contritely,
since Christ became man because of our sins; devoutly, that is,
heart and lips should be in accord.
SALUTATION TO MARY.
full of grace! I rejoice and congratulate thee, because thou wert
chosen to be the Mother of the Most High and Queen of heaven and
earth. With thee is the Father who from all eternity begot Him whom
thou didst bear; with thee is the Son whom thou didst carry in thy
virginal womb; with thee is the Holy Ghost, overshadowed by whose
power thou didst become the Mother of God. Thou art blessed amongst
women, thou art the joy of heaven and the ornament of the Church
of God, pray for us now
and at the hour of our death. Amen.