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!