3 Things Catholics Celebrate on the Feast of the Annunciation
On March 25, nine months before Christmas, we celebrate one of the Church’s most important feast days, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. Like all solemnities, this feast is one of formal celebration and great joy. The Annunciation is particularly special to many Catholics because it brings together three Catholic beliefs that are intrinsic to our faith.
1. The Incarnation of the Lord
It was always part of God’s perfect plan to have the Second Person of the Trinity become human while also being fully divine. However, this did not actually take place until the angel Gabriel announced God’s message to Mary and she gave her consent.
When Gabriel announced this news, God was made man in the womb of Mary. We remember this when we pray in the Nicene Creed, “For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”
The Incarnation is a pivotal moment in salvation history. It is the coming of our promised Savior--the beginning of the Life that saves us. The Incarnation is among the most important Mysteries of our Catholic faith, and it reveals God's great mercy.
2. Devotion to Mary
We honor Mary on the Annunication because of her unique role in God's plan of salvation and her unprecedented obedience. In His omnipotence, God chose to rely on Mary for the competion of His plan.
It is another great Mystery that though God does not need any human being in order to do His work, He chose to redeem us in a way that included human participation through a humble young woman's consent.
When Mary spoke her "Fiat," she said "yes" to God as a reversal of Adam and Eve's "no." We meditate on the angel Gabriel's announcement and Mary's consent as the first of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.
3. Catholic Social Teaching
In more recent times, Catholics have been looking at the way the Annunciation informs Catholic social teaching, particularly regarding the dignity of the human person. The Annunciation marks the conception of Jesus--that is, it recognizes the time that God became man as the moment when Jesus was conceived in Mary's womb.
Significantly, the Annunication acknowledges that God did not become man only at the Nativity, but was man from the very moment of conception. This is well reflected in the most recent translation of the Nicene Creed found in the Roman Missal, 3rd Edition: we no longer say that the Son was "born of the Virgin Mary and became man," but that He was "incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man." The importance we attach to this feast day is a good reminder of why we defend the dignity of life from conception.
As we enter the last few weeks of Lent, celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation with the faith and confidence born from the Incarnation of Jesus that would lead to His death, Resurrection, and glorious Ascension.