The Annunciation

The first Joyful Mystery is the Annunciation, the event when Mary was visited by an angel of the Lord, Gabriel, who told Mary that she was to be the mother of the Son of God. It is found in Luke’s Gospel 1:26-38. There is another shorter annunciation to Joseph that happens in Matthew’s Gospel 1:18-23. We can also find it mentioned in the Quran in various places of an Angel coming to Mary. The feast day of the Annunciation is March 25 and is one of the 12 great feasts in the Orthodox church as well.

The fruit of the mystery is humility. This is a great virtue to ponder as we enter into the season of Advent since Christ himself humbled himself to be born on earth. Mary also willingly said yes, Let it be done unto me according to your will. We need to try to become individuals who are willing to say yes and in this day and age it would be wonderful if humility became the in vogue thing, so everyone wouldn’t be talking about what they’ve done and how important they are in the world. Sure we can look to the saints like Francis of Assisi or Mother Theresa are two of the easiest examples, but most saints are great examples of living a humble life. If you want to turn to the living Pope Francis is noted for his humility and sure we can talk about some of those big names Warren Buffett as well as several big named celebrities, but everyone should show some ounce of humility.

The Annunciation

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these decade posts so we begin going through them all again. We start with the Joyful Mysteries.

The first Joyful Mystery is The Annunciation, this is when the Angel of the Lord (Gabriel) came to Mary this is found in Luke 1:26-38. Gabriel came to Mary and Mary said Yes to become the Theotokos. This event also takes place in the Quran and according to Muslim tradition it took place during the month of Ramadan.  The fruit of the mystery is humility. According to the Catechism humility is the root of prayer, so it is fitting that we reflect on humility as we begin the Rosary.  It is one of the seven heavenly virtues the obverse of the seven deadly sins. Humility is something that we need more of in the world, too many people it seems are obsessed with themselves and forget about everyone else. Humans are social creatures and we should care more about others. I mean look at that TED talk from Pope Francis a couple of weeks ago in which humility played a big role. Let us all try to care more for other.

Franciscan Rosary: The Annunciation

Over the next seven weeks I will be reflecting on the decades of the Franciscan Crown, a rosary consisting of seven decades corresponding to the Seven Joys of the Virgin.

The first decade focuses on the Annunciation. This is the one where the angel Gabriel comes to Mary and announces that she will be the mother of Jesus. The feast day is on March 25 and ties directly to the Passion. As the Eastern Orthodox Church it is one of the Twelve Great Feasts and as a traditional hymn from Athanasius says “Today is the beginning of our salvation, And the revelation of the eternal mystery! The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin As Gabriel announces the coming of Grace. Together with him let us cry to the Theotokos: “Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with you!”” It is also a part of the Muslim tradition appearing in the Quran and according the Muslim tradition this takes place sometime during Ramadan. Let us all try to remember that things that we all hold in common between Christians (Catholics, Orthodox, etc. ) and the Muslims. As all the Orthodox Churches gather for the Holy and Great Council let us all pray that things get done and there might be some sort of unity within all these churches and perhaps some renewed way of looking at the Latin church.

The Angelus

On this last day of May I though it would be appropriate to do one final Marian post. Last week I talked about the Angelus and how that was really the only thing other than the Rosary that I’ve prayed dedicated to Mary. The Angelus is prayed in churches, convents, and monasteries and can be prayed three times a day at 6:00 am (Prime), noon (Sext), and 6:00 pm (Vespers) often times churches rang their bells at these times. It is a devotion that focuses on the Incarnation and the Annunciation. At school we prayed it at noon.  For most people they might have heard of the Angelus through that Papal Angelus Address that happens on Sundays. It’s a nice prayer and even if you only do it once a day it offers a break from the rest of the world.

The Angelus consists of Bible Verses and a couple Hail Marys it is as follows

The Angel of the LORD declared unto Mary, / And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace; the LORD is with thee: blessed art thou amongst 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.

Behold the handmaid of the LORD. / Be it done unto me according to thy word.

Hail Mary, full of grace; the LORD is with thee: blessed art thou amongst 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.

And the Word was made flesh. / And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary, full of grace; the LORD is with thee: blessed art thou amongst 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.

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God. / That we might 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. Amen

The Annunciation

As we begin the season of Advent we reflect upon the event that started it all. The Annunciation is when the Angel Gabriel came down to Mary, this event is covered in the old Basque folk carol Gabriel’s Message.

Mary says yes to the message from God and she becomes pregnant. Help us to be more like Mary and have the courage to say yes to our heavenly Father for whatever he asks of us. Many of us have separated who we are on Sunday with who we are the rest of the week. In order to build the kingdom here on Earth we need to let our faith come through and illuminate the world. As we have heard repeatedly we are to be a Light for the World. We need to shine in the darkness even though it seems to be getting darker, we know that the light will come again.

The Annunciation

The First Joyful Mystery is the Annunciation. It mostly refers to the events in Luke 1:25-28, where an Angel of the Lord comes down and tells Mary will conceive and bear a son and name him Jesus, but there is another Annunciation that takes place in Matthew 1:19-25. In the Annunciation in Matthew it is an Angel appearing to Joseph in a dream, like another well known Joseph, and telling him to fear not that Mary will bear a son by the Holy Spirit and he will be named Jesus. Joseph then does what the Angel   told him in actions.

All to often we forget about Joseph, Mary’s spouse, in most of our reflections on Jesus. However Joseph plays an important role in the life of Christ and although he might have not been there for the whole time. The biggest fan of St. Joseph was Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologica)  who wrote in one of his many volumes about the necessity of Saint Joseph in the Incarnation, for without Joseph Mary would have been stoned and Jesus needed the care and protection of a father. Closer to today Pope John Paul II wrote and Apostolic Exhortation about Joseph (Redemptoris Custos) where he figure Joseph as a model loving father.

I am reminded of an Angelus of Pope Benedict XVI as he reflected on the role of Joseph and his silence. “St Joseph’s silence does not express an inner emptiness but, on the contrary, the fullness of the faith he bears in his heart and which guides his every thought and action.” Benedict continues by asking us to follow in the path of Joseph, “Let us allow ourselves to be “filled” with St Joseph’s silence! In a world that is often too noisy, that encourages neither recollection nor listening to God’s voice, we are in such deep need of it.” It is remarkable that these words still mean a lot, our world is noisy and we are constantly connected to our telephones often times missing out on the world around us.

Boston College has a cool little thing up about The Annunciation of Joseph as well. If you have some time I would suggest you check it out. Boston College’s Church in the 21st Century initiative is an online spiritual enrichment/faith formation course. They offer a number of programs each semester. If any of the course interest you why not sign up.

We need to follow the lead of St. Joseph and show through our actions the love that we have for other. As the old saying goes “Actions speak louder than words,” I hope that we are inspired by Joseph to do something.

The Annunciation

Once again we return to the Rosary and focus on the first Joyful Mystery. The Annunciation is a strange event as in the Bible we get two different accounts of the story. The most common is the one in Luke where Mary is greeted by Gabriel, the Archangel, “Hail Mary, full of Grace the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women.” Mary was frightened and her mind was racing who is this person. Then Gabriel said “Fear not, you have found favor with God and you will bear a son and name him Jesus.” The angel goes on explaining how the Holy Spirit will come and Mary will conceive then and maybe there is  something about midi-chlorians, it goes on a bit. Mary then says “Let it be done unto me according to your will.” Then Gabriel left and Mary went to visit here cousin Elizabeth.

The other account of the story comes in Matthew where Mary is has been found with child and Joseph was about to leave Mary. Joseph goes to sleep and it is Joseph who gets visited by an angel (Gabriel?) in a dream,  the angel tells him that Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and not by any other man so there was nothing to be afraid of. Joseph is also told that Mary will bear a son and him name will be Jesus. After Joseph woke up he did what the Angel told him.

These two stories show the depth of the events of the Annunciation it wasn’t just Mary saying “Yes” or Joseph following directions but perhaps a combination of the two events. We need to follow the examples set by Mary and Joseph in these stories. Mary shows great courage to say “yes” to something that seems impossible, she will bear a child without laying with a man. Joseph is a great example of having doubts in the Lord’s plan but sticking through to the end, as he wanted to leave Mary but following the advice of the angel he stays.

I hope we can one day all have the courage of Mary to say yes to God’s plan for us and the tenacity of Joseph to stick with the plan even when it gets difficult.