Today’s Solemnity, commemorating the Incarnation of God the Son, falls on a specifically chosen date, March 25th, because it is exactly 9 months before December 25, when we celebrate our Savior’s birth. Since this event marks a crucial moment in Salvation History, we should think of it as being a window during Lent. Today we can freeze time, peer into eternity, and contemplate the mysteries of Christ, together with the Church and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
As we continue our journey toward Holy Week, we are invited on this day to bear in mind the salvific mysteries of our Lord’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection and in a special way to look back to where it all began, to consider these mysteries in the context of God’s eternal plan.
It began in Heaven, in the eternal heart of the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit chose a specific moment in time to enter our world and change our lives forever.
Today marks that window in time, when eternity enters our world and God becomes a man, like us in all things but sin, to save us from sin and death.
In a special way we are invited to contemplate God’s handmaid, who first received the revelation of Christ’s birth, and through her docility to the Father’s will, conceived of the Holy Spirit, and gave our Savior a home in her womb.
Contemplating these sublime mysteries can be difficult. Here are 3 ways to make it simple.
1) Pray the Angelus. The Angelus is the first prayer I pray every morning, because it involves an act of faith in God’s eternal plan, which allows me to unite my will to His. In this way, it is a good payer to start off with, because reflecting on the mystery of the Incarnation in Mary’s womb predisposes the heart and mind to be in God’s presence. It is important to pray the Angelus, and not just say it. It should be a meditative prayer, even if it only takes a couple of minutes to pray. I like to stretch this prayer out a little by slowing it down and contemplating on each part of the prayer: the angel’s annunciation to Mary; her docile obedience to God’s word; the Word made flesh in her womb. By praying the Angelus in this way, I more easily enter the dialogue with the Lord about the mysteries of salvation and their importance in my life.
2) Use sacred art to help you pray (because that is what sacred art is for). Do you notice something funny in the fresco of the Annunciation by Fra Angelico? There’s a monk on the scene who obviously wasn’t there when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary. Today, the Church invites you to do what this monk is doing: put yourself on the scene and contemplate it, just like the monk in this picture. Today is an especially good day to do this, because it is a window in Lent that allows us to peer into eternity. Open that window wide and let the special graces flow into your prayer space. Jump right into the picture, join the Angel and the Virgin Mary, and live this moment for just a little while as if it is an eternal moment, which it actually is. This is the moment when eternity touches our time and space. A religious image of the Annunciation can help a lot with this, because a picture freezes the moment in time and allows you to enter that moment and stay there for as long as you want.
3) Pray with Mary. I would like to suggest that you join Mary in prayer today and you can do this by using a holy picture that helps to make her more present in your mind and heart. When you pray the Angelus prayer, join your heart and mind with Mary, talk with her, and ask her to share with you what she thought and felt. Reading St. Luke’s account of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38) is a good way to start the prayer with Mary. As you read it, try to share her range thoughts and emotions, the surprise, the awe, the unworthiness, and the joy. This kind of short, simple contemplation is a great way to live the feast of the Annunciation and grow in gratitude for God’s gift of the Incarnation, which took place in the Virgin Mary’s womb. What a great day to sit beside Mary and contemplate God’s presence in our lives with her!
Thank you! Awesome ways to let the Annunciation impact our daily lives!
You’re welcome and thanks in return for your words, which might have been a good title for this post, if I had come up with it myself. Thanks for your testimony of faith and love for Christ!
In this Holy Feast I go to the Holy Mass in my Parrish and pray the Angelus tree times for day at 6:am,12:pm 6:pm.And to pray the Rosary also.Our Lady is my support in my life.She give me much favor.Love her.
Marian feasts are wonderful occasions. Today’s feast is extra special because of the intimate closeness of Jesus and Mary, so we should be especially close to them too. And what better way is there to do this than Mass and prayer, especially the Angelus and the rosary prayed with extra devotion and fervor. I always add something special to this feast (because it is a window during Lent!) and I make sure to have a special meal. I might not go to a restaurant, but when I have the time, I’ll prepare something with a little more love and enjoy it more, because it’s a feast. Today, we’re having hamburgers — Big Ones! — with everything on it.
Thanks for sharing your testimony of faith in Christ and your special love for him and his mother — our Mother — the Blessed Virgin Mary. Happy Feast Day!
In his homily,” A Short Road to Perfection,” Bl. Cardinal Newman advises us to pray the Angelus devoutly. It is one of the most beautiful, meditative prayers ever written (who wrote it?) and one that we ought to know by heart. We pray it as part of our evening prayers, although I admit that we can learn from you and pray it slower. Thanks, James.
I don’t know who composed it, but of course most of it is entirely scriptural. The short segments that are not exact quotes from Scripture are closely based on it (e.g. // and she conceived of the Holy Spirit // is just stating the fulfillment of what the Angel told her and what actually happened according to scripture). It really is a great prayer and it is perfect for contemplation. Happy Feast Day, Terry!
This is a beautiful post. Thank you!
A thought: You might consider,when mentioning a prayer like the Angelus, people like me–born after/during Vatican 2, sometimes putting the words of the Angelus or other prayers down so we can learn it. I now know what it the prayer is, but despite 12 years of Catholic education, I either didn’t learn or didn’t remember, anything more about this lovely prayer than its title. I was vaguely aware that it was something that “everybody” should know, but I did not.
I was in my 50s before I heard it prayed and learned the words–and that is only because I began to listen to EWTN, via local Catholic radio where it is recited daily at noon when I am driving to work. My parents neither prayed it nor mentioned it, focussing instead on making sure we learned the Our Father and Hail Mary by heart. It is not said in (all) churches, it is considered more of a private devotion, I guess. And those who go to church seldom or sporadically might not ever hear it at all, nor be aware of it.
Good points, Reinkat. I did include a link to the prayer in the text, but those often go unnoticed if you don’t add something like “click here.” So I will include the text below in this comment.
Like you said, this prayer is by and large a personal or popular devotion, which isn’t prayed in every prayer group, although it really is a good prayer for that. I know a couple of groups that pray it regularly. At Pinecrest Academy, a Catholic School here in my town (more on that later, I hope… I won’t say more now, but say a prayer 😉 😉 ), they pray it over the intercom at midday — over 750 pre-K through 12th grade students, plus faculty. Also at my parents’ parish, the associate vicar leads the Angelus as he processes into the Church for morning Mass. And then, as you say, there’s EWTN, which reaches millions of people. It may not be the most popular prayer, but there are still millions of people around the world praying it daily, some people 3 times daily (like Ana Cecilia in one of the comments above), all around the world. So when you look at it that way, it really is a prayer of the whole Church. The Mystical Body is reflectively praying on the mystery of the Incarnation daily. That’s a pretty big thought!
Thanks for your comment and recommendation, Reinkat. For those who are not familiar with the Angelus, here are the words of the prayer (meant to be prayed contemplatively. In groups, the bold is prayed by the leader, the italics by the group, and the regular font is all together):
The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of
our death. Amen.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord:
Be it done unto me according to Thy word.
Hail Mary . . .
And the Word became Flesh:
And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary . . .
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God,
that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray:
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.
Thank you. I hope I didn’t sound whiny when I commented, I didn’t mean to but afterwards thought I didn’t phrase things properly.
I appreciate you printing the words of this prayer, for those of us who may not know them.
You didn’t sound whiny at all. On the contrary, I appreciate your observations and suggestions. I think they are helpful also to others who read the comments. Thanks for all your input, Reinkat. I appreciate every bit of it. God bless!
A beautiful post about a favorite day on the calendar and in human history.
A beautiful day indeed! Thanks!