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Cool Things to know on the Solemnity of the Annunciation

Today, on the solemnity of the Annunciation, we commemorate the extraordinary event when the angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary to announce the incarnation of Christ. Though typically celebrated on March 25, this year, due to its overlap with Holy Week, the observance has been moved to Monday, April 8, as per the decision of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci, detail.

The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci, detail.


By Catholic Online (California Network)
4/8/2024 (1 month ago)

Published in Christian Saints & Heroes

Keywords: Annunciation, Incarnation, Gabriel, Mary, Perpetual Virginity, Fiat, Holy Week, Liturgical Calendar

Meaning of Annunciation: The term "Annunciation" stems from the root word "announce," signifying Gabriel's proclamation of Christ's incarnationďż˝"the divine becoming human in Jesus. It serves as an announcement of divine intervention in human history.

Liturgical Timing: Traditionally, the Annunciation is observed on March 25, precisely nine months before Christmas. However, when this date coincides with Holy Week, it is moved to the first available day after the Second Sunday of Easter to maintain its reverence.

Parallel with John the Baptist: Similar to the announcement of Jesus' conception, the birth of John the Baptist was also foretold by Gabriel. Both events exhibit striking parallels, including the involvement of the angel Gabriel and the announcement of miraculous conceptions.

Mary's Reaction: Mary's response to Gabriel's message contrasts with Zechariah's disbelief. While she seeks clarification on how the angel's words will be fulfilled, her inquiry reflects faith seeking understanding, rather than skepticism.

Perpetual Virginity: Mary's question, "How shall this be, since I do not know man?" has been interpreted as indicative of her perpetual virginity. This underscores her consecration to God and her unique role in salvation history.

Gabriel's Response: Gabriel assures Mary of the Holy Spirit's intervention in conceiving Jesus, emphasizing the miraculous nature of the Incarnation and affirming Jesus' divine origin.

Relationship with Elizabeth: Contrary to common mistranslations, Elizabeth is not described as Mary's cousin. The Greek term used indicates a kinswoman, leaving room for various interpretations regarding the familial relationship.

Mary's Fiat: Mary's acceptance of God's will, encapsulated in her fiat -- "Let it be to me according to your word" -- is pivotal. Despite the challenges and uncertainties ahead, Mary surrenders herself entirely to God's plan, exemplifying profound humility and obedience.

The Annunciation stands as a cornerstone of our Catholic faith, marking the pivotal moment when God entered human history to redeem humanity. Mary's unwavering trust and obedience serve as an enduring example for believers, inspiring profound reflection and devotion throughout the ages.

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