Skip to comments.The Eve of the Annunciation
Posted on 03/24/2007 9:24:15 AM PDT by lightman
The Eve of the Annunciation of Our Lord (March 24, AD 1996) was clear and still. This particular night was punctuated by a cosmic visitor, a denizen of the far ranges of the solar system briefly hurtling past the earth on its fleeting, slingshot-like spin around the Sun.
Comets are no rarity--thousands have been discovered through the centuries, their orbits tracked, their positions plotted. But bright comets are scarce, and the forecasting of whether a particular comet will be bright enough to be seen unassisted by binoculars is a very inexact science. Too often expectations exceed actualities, and the cosmic visitor remains hidden from view.
So for the Eve of the Annunciation to be graced by a bright comet--let alone one conveniently position close to one of the best known asterisms of the sky--the Big Dipper--was a once in a lifetime occurrence.
That this comet was unknown and undiscovered until detected by Japanese astronomer Yuji Hayakutake less than two months before made this cosmic visitor a most appropriately timed surprise from God, who on this festival declares that all things are possible.
Despite our high speed computers, sophisticated deep space eyes and ears, and even our orbiting space telescope, God still continues His work of Creation. While Quoheleth, the preacher of Ecclesiastes, might lament that there is nothing new under the sun, the sudden appearance of comet Hayakutake confirms instead the prophesy of Isaiah, Behold, I am about to do a new thing.
The timing could not have been better. For the Festival of the Annunciation concerns a new thing-- the sudden and unexpected arrival of a messenger--the angel Gabriel--to the maiden Mary of Nazareth. Among the people of the ancient middle East, comets were thought to be messengers, bearers of news and portents of things to come.
But the message of the cometary visitor was never received with joy. These wispy apparitions were believed to be the heralds of calamity: of war, or famine, or pestilence. Their appearance was thought to precede the death of kings and the downfall of nations. Their news was anything but good. Those privy to seeing the sign in the heavens were filled with fear for that which was soon to come.
How different, then, was the message of Gabriel. It began simply Fear not. Of course Mary would have been afraid. Angels were not in the habit of visiting mortals. And, like every devout Jew, Mary remembered every year--every spring of every year--one time when an angel visited mortals in Egypt. That visitor was the Angel of Death. Every Passover was a remembrance that the Angel of Death had passed over the houses of the Jews, while striking the Egyptians. When the angel Gabriel appeared in the spring in Nazareth, Mary must have immediately feared that he was coming to take her life. How could a springtime angel be an angel of life?
Yet, for Mary, he was at once an angel of life--and yet one whose message would indeed take and transform her life by joining her in the most intimate way with God her Creator. The Word through whom the earth and sky and sea had been made; the one whom heaven and earth cannot contain, would become a single cell in her womb, and there grow to become the Son of the Most High, the Savior Christ the Lord.
Perhaps, in a perverse way, this angelic messenger brought doom like his cometary counterpart. This child, who would be great and Son of the Most High and given the throne of his Father David would also be heralded as the downfall of nations and kingdoms,and a sign that will be spoken against. And, for Mary, there would be a personal pain and passion to be borne for a sword will pierce your soul also.
But Mary yielded her will to the will of God the Father, her mind to the mind of Jesus God the Son, and her body to God the Holy Spirit. She became, in a moment of time, uniquely linked to the Holy Trinity as daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, and bride of the Spirit; the first repository of the Body of Christ, in very being, the first Christian. Marys yes of obedience and faith undid the yes of her first mother and ours, the yes of Eve to rebellion and sin. Truly, Mary is the Eve of the Annunciation.
The Eve of the Annunciation was indeed graced by a heavenly visitor, highly graced, highly favored.
With God all things were possible--even virgins in Nazareth may conceive. With God all things are possible--even unknown and unexpected comets may blaze across the springtime sky. With God all things will be possible, for He who does many a new thing will one day make all things new.
Let us ponder anew what the Almighty can do; if with His love He befriend thee.
Keep a Good Lent!
Holy Annunciation ping.
This is an excellent post! Thanks.
Today is the Forefeast of the Annunciation.
"Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Today is the prelude of universal joy; let us keep the forefeast in gladness. For, behold, Gabriel cometh with fear and wonder unto the Virgin, bringing her the good tidings: Rejoice, thou who art full of grace; the Lord is with thee.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
At the great Archangel's voice, O Theotokos, the All-holy Spirit came upon thee and thou didst conceive Him that is one in essence and throne with God the Father, O Adam's recovery.
I was thinking, recently, about what a supreme gift life really is, and that that's what makes abortion so horrific. You were allowed to draw sweet Adamic breath, but you refused that gift to the child you created. May it truly be a pardonable sin, and be made manifestly so by the eternal fraternity of Gabriel.
To me, the Magnificat, and then following that, Elizabeth's greeting to Mary, represent the first two Psalms of the New Covenant.
Aye, St. Luke presents the story of Christ like a medieval bard, interspersed with glorious canticles climaxing with Simeon's Nunc Dimittis
He then does a similar construction in "Book II" (Acts) by again having the Holy Spirit overshadow the Twelve who have become the Body of Christ....Peter then quotes the song of Joel and through the Holy Spirit people of every race and tongue, language and nation are able to join in the song in praise of "the light of all nations."
Because the Annunciation date falls on Sunday, it will be celebrated at Masses on Monday in the Catholic Church.
Indeed; likewise for Lutherans and Episcopalians the Feast is transferred this year to March 26.
Thanks for the ping. St. Tikhon is celebrated today as well.
look then at what the persons on the face of the earth are doing, as, for instance, killing, going to Hell etc.; likewise what the Divine Persons are doing, namely, working out the most holy Incarnation, etc.; and likewise what the Angel and Our Lady are doing, namely, the Angel doing his duty as ambassador, and Our Lady humbling herself and giving thanks to the Divine Majesty; and then to reflect in order to draw some profit from each of these things.(The Spiritual Exercises: The Incarnation (Second Week First Day))
Thank you for this excellent essay! I printed copies for my pastor and the seminarian we have doing "OJT" at our church, I am sure they will both appreciate it.
The Lord be with you.
How lovely! Thanks for posting.
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Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15
25 March The Annunciation of Our Lord Gold or White
We beseech you, O Lord,
pour your grace into our hearts,
that as we have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ
by the message of an angel,
so by his cross and passion
we may be brought to the glory of his resurrection;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
God most high,
whose handmaid bore the Word made flesh:
we thank you that in this sacrament of our redemption
you visit us with your Holy Spirit
and overshadow us by your power;
strengthen us to walk with Mary the joyful path of obedience
and so to bring forth the fruits of holiness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
BTTT for Annunciation AD 2008
Most excellently stated.
Thank you—acknowleging your kind words nearly a year later.
BTTT for Annunciation Eve AD 2009.
Newly posted on the comments on the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau link:
Harvey S. Mozolak, 2009
from the Lucian palette
the angels cadmium gold wings
are stroked next to the blessed mother
as yet unburdened
by the extra weight of heavens favor
in his pinioned hands
one could picture a lily
for her purity of purpose
let it be with me
the bulb of my belly
according to your word
or still a sword
piercing the heart of every joys juice
her heartbeat comingled
in the covering by the dripping of his blood
in the embrace of new son John
or yet a shroud
to receive the loaf of cooling bread
broken and held in sarcophagal napkins
or even an empty cup for filling
to toast the throne of David forever
another kingdom forever lost
his hands are brushed open in prayer
departing at the presence
not nearer but more visible
on the canvas of time
before the ceiling paint has dried
Mary sealed hurries to greet Elizabeth
with all magnificent news
that will be framed
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