Feast of the Annunciation, by Father Médaille

detail from 'Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary' by Fra AngelicoAfter having recalled to mind what passed between the Archangel Gabriel and the Blessed Virgin in the chamber at Nazareth, let us ponder the wisdom, goodness and mercy of God, Who determined to save the world by so wondrous a means as the Incarnation of the Eternal Word. Let us also apprehend that sin, from which He desired to deliver us, is something very terrible, since it was needful to apply to it a remedy so extraordinary. Let us thank God for His mercy, and let us abhor sin.

Let us consider the excessive humiliation of a God made Man, and become even a little Child in the womb of the Blessed Virgin: He Who is eternal, impassible, immortal, almighty, all-wise, nay, wisdom itself, becomes subject to time, to suffering, to death; lowly, weak, nay, even a babe. The Creator unites Himself to our created nature, in order by means of His humiliations to make reparation for affronts offered to God, and to teach us humility by His example. How base is it for a worm of the earth to give way to pride in the very sight of a God Who has stooped to lowliness so abject!

Let us reflect further on the sublime dignity to which the Blessed Virgin is raised, She is the Mother of God a privilege which uplifts her above angels and men, and, that she may acquit herself worthily of so wondrously high a station, God loads her with graces and blessings with a profusion that never will be equalled. Let us rejoice with our kind Mother at the great marvels God has wrought in her; let us place ourselves afresh under her holy protection.

On the Virtues Practised by the Blessed Virgin at the Annunciation

The Blessed Virgin was living in the practice of every virtue, the Holy Spirit thus preparing her to become shortly the Mother of God, When she knew that the time was near for the coming of the Messias, she longed for it most earnestly, that she might see her God glorified, and man freed from the tyranny of sin. This was what she petitioned for in her prayers, this was the object of all her desires, and by her intercession and supplications she deserved that God the Son should hasten the time of His Incarnation. Let us conceive fervent desires for the glory of God, and for our everlasting happiness: God will not fail to satisfy them.

When the Angel saluted the Blessed Virgin, she gave proof of her modesty in being troubled at sight of an angel in human form; she manifested her prudence in not agreeing at once with what was said to her; she showed her faith in believing what the Angel announced to her on the part of God; she set forth her love of virginity by preferring it to the honour of becoming the Mother of God; she evinced her humility by calling herself the handmaid of the Lord; and displayed her obedience in submitting to His commands. Let us imitate our Holy Mother in all these virtues.

When, after her consent, the Holy Ghost had formed in her virginal womb the Sacred Body of the Messias, and she had conceived the Son of God, she adored Him with profound reverence; loved Him as her God and as her Son; offered herself to Him to serve Him, and to enter into all the designs that had led Him to make Himself Man. How blessed should we be, if before, during, and after Holy Communion, we knew how to practise the virtues taught us by the Blessed Virgin! We should have need of no other method of making a good Communion.

On The Angelical Salutation

Hail, full of grace. The Angel salutes the Blessed Virgin as the envoy of the august Trinity, for the loftiest purpose ever designed, namely, the Incarnation of the Word. The angel, out of reverence, addresses her not by her name Mary, but calls her “full of grace” which is a more glorious title. She was in every sense “full of grace;” in her mind, her heart, her memory, her actions: she possessed sanctifying grace, actual graces, supernatural virtues, all the gifts of the Holy Spirit; and this fulness of grace surpassed all that the saints have ever possessed. Let us congratulate our Blessed Lady, and ask for some participation in this grace.

The Lord is with thee, not only by His essence, presence, and operation, as in other creatures, or by grace, as in the just but by a very special grace, love, tenderness and close union; by special protection, and the direction of all her powers and all her life, and that for ever. Let us act in such wise as that God may be in us as He was in our holy Mother.

Blessed art thou among women: thou art the only one exempt from the curse of sin, of barrenness, and of the pains of childbirth; thou art the source of all blessings, as Eve was the source of all maledictions. Angels, men, and all creatures will bless thee and award thee praises unnumbered; to these will I unite my own during life, in expectation of being permitted to bless and praise thee throughout eternity.

On the Second Part of the Angelical Salutation

Saint Elizabeth added, “And blessed is the fruit of thy womb,” Jesus, the Saviour of the world, possessing the Godhead with all its perfections, contains in Himself all possible blessings. He is the source of all blessings which will be communicated to men, as well in the order of grace, as in that of glory. Through Him the predestined will be blessed by the heavenly Father ; to Him, throughout eternity, they will sing canticles of praise, blessing and thanksgiving. Let us strive to be of the number.

The Church concludes this salutation by the words: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of death,” We call her by the name “Mary” to show our tender love for her; we call her “holy” because that is the quality she values most; we address her as “Mother of God” which is the culminating point of her dignity, to testify that we hope everything from the power this title imparts to her; we ask her protection and her prayers throughout life, but above all “at the hour of our death” when we shall most need it. We say these words very, very often: let our devotion and confidence infuse into them due life and spirit.

We conclude with the word Amen; that is, we wish this may be, we hope it will be, we pray it may come about. We should begin and end all our prayers with such desire and such confidence.