The Fathers of the Church had the idea that creation began with the first day of Spring. On Tuesday, the Church celebrates the New Spring as the Word becomes flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation of the mystery to her by the Archangel Gabriel, whom we celebrate tomorrow.
The Church is enamored of the mystery of the Annunciation, especially as she prays thrice daily the “Angelus.” Here we see her meditate on the greeting of the archangel – “Hail, full of grace” – which caused such humble astonishment in the Blessed Virgin. “Full of Grace” is a new name, saved for the one who is not only entirely sinless but even becomes in the mystery of Christ the Mediatrix of all graces received by all men of all time. Indeed, St. Thomas writes that “the Blessed Virgin Mary received such a fulness of grace that she was nearest of all to the Author of grace; so that she received within her Him Who is full of all grace; and by bringing Him forth, she, in a manner, dispensed grace to all.” This is your Mother and mine!
In the Annunciation, the Church also learns from Mary the beauty of total openness to and oneness with God’s will. She says to the angel, “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to your will.” Mary is totally available to God because she is one with Him. There is no moral distance of any kind between His Will and hers. This is the key to her joy, even in the midst of the greatest suffering. She would persevere in this oneness of wills even at the foot of the Cross, offering the Divine Victim to the Father as co-redemptrix. Here we learn the only path to happiness, imperfect on Earth and perfect in Heaven.
Finally, the Church bends her knee at the mystery of the Incarnation itself: “Et Verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis.” God Almighty has assumed our human nature, taking to Himself our poverty so that we can receive His richness. This marvelous act of love is an article of faith by which we know the central meaning of history and nature. God has become man in the womb of the Virgin.
It is good for us to meditate on the mystery of the Annunciation during Lent. We can increase our love for Christ and His Mother by praying the Angelus every day, especially at noon, the center of the day. Let us ask our Mother, who is full of grace, to intercede for us, that we may be always in union with Divine Love, Who was made flesh for our salvation.
Yours in the Lord,
Fr. Joseph Previtali