Feast of the Annunciation

The Feast of the Annunciation is one of the most important in the Church calendar.  First, it celebrates the actual Incarnation of Our Savior -- the Word made flesh in the womb of His mother, Mary.  Second, it is a principal Marian feast. Three other feasts honoring Our Lord's mother, the Assumption (August 15), is observed as a Solemnity of Mary, the Immaculate Conception (December 8), and the New Year’s Day (January 1) are celebrated as Holy Days of Obligation in the Philippines.

Many Catholics who are deeply concerned with the defense of the life of unborn children believe that it would be most fitting if the Feast of the Annunciation were also to be accorded this status.  Although it seems unlikely that the American bishops will add another obligatory feast to the Church calendar, we can certainly take on the 'obligation' ourselves to attend Mass, if at all possible.  In any case, it is most appropriate that we encourage special celebrations in the "Domestic Church"-- even, perhaps, in our parishes.

The biblical account of the Annunciation is in the first chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke, which describes the news given to Mary that she was to become the mother of the Incarnation of God, records the "angelic salutation" of Gabriel to Mary, 'Hail, thou who art highly favored.  The Lord is with thee." This is the origin of the repeated "Hail Mary" prayer of the Rosary); and Mary's response to God's will, "Let it be done to me according to thy word."  Her exultant hymn, the Magnificat, found in Luke 1:46-55, has been part of the Church’s liturgy of the hours, at Vespers (evening prayer), and has been repeated nightly in churches, convents and monasteries for many centuries.

The Feast of the Annunciation commemorates the angel Gabriel's announcement to Mary that she would conceive Jesus, and the conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit at that moment. The feast is March 25th, nine months before Jesus' birth at Christmas.

 


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