FEAST OF THE ANNUNCIATION


March 25 -December 25 ( exactly nine months before Christmas)

*The Feast of the Annunciation, contemporarily the Solemnity of the Annunciation, commemorates the visit of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, during which he informed her that she would be the mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is celebrated on 25 March each year.

It is a principal Marian feast, classified as a solemnity in the Catholic Church. Two examples in Catholicism of the importance attached to the Annunciation are the Angelus prayer, and the event's position as the first Joyful Mystery of the Rosary

Almighty Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
You have revealed the beauty of your power
by exalting the lowly virgin of Nazareth
and making her the mother of our Savior.
May the prayers of this woman
bring Jesus to the waiting world
and fill the void of incompletion
with the presence of her child,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit
one God forever and ever. Amen

**The story of the Annunciation (the announcing), from the Latin annuntiare, is recounted in Luke's gospel. At the Annunciation, the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive a Son, and his name would be Jesus. His greeting, "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you" has echoed down through the ages in many prayers, and is known as the "Hail Mary." Mary was initially confused as to how she would bear God's Son, since she was a virgin. The angel explained that the Holy Spirit would come upon on her. This is why when we recite the Nicene creed we say "by the power of the Holy Spirit, [Jesus] was born of the Virgin Mary and became man." The Apostles Creed likewise affirms that Jesus was "conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit." Thus, the Feast of the Annunciation is the beginning of Jesus' miraculous life, and it begins with the theotokos conceiving Jesus by the Holy Spirit's power. 

Mary's response to the angel, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word," (Latin: ecce ancilla Domini; fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum) is a statement of humble faith, and a model for how we are to respond when God calls us to do what seems impossible. This response is called Mary's fiat, from the Latin word meaning "let it be done." The Catechism addresses the significance of Mary's faith in relation to her role as Christ's mother:

By pronouncing her "fiat" at the Annunciation and giving her consent to the Incarnation, Mary was already collaborating with the whole work her Son was to accomplish. She is mother wherever he is Savior and head of the Mystical Body (973). 

HISTORY 

Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary dates back to at least the 6th century, and is mentioned between AD 530 and 533 in a sermon by Abraham of Ephesus. In the West, the first authentic reference is in the Gelasian Sacramentary in the 7th century. The tenth Synod of Toledo (AD 656), and Trullan Synod (AD 692) speak of the Annunciation feast as universally celebrated in the Catholic Church. In the Acts of the latter council, the feast is exempted from the Lenten fast.

The oldest observance of the day is on March 25, although in Spain the feast was at times celebrated on December 19 to avoid any chance of the date falling during the Lenten season. March 25 is obviously 9 months before Christmas, the birth of Jesus. Scholars are not completely sure whether the date of the Annunciation influenced the date of Christmas, or vice-versa. Before the Church adopted fixed days of celebration, early Christians speculated on the dates of major events in Jesus' life. Second-century Latin Christians in Rome and North Africa tried to find the day in which Jesus died. By the time of Tertullian (d. AD 225) they had concluded that he died on Friday, March 25, AD 29 (incidentally, this is an impossibility, since March 25 in the year AD 29 was not a Friday). How does the day of Jesus' death relate to the day of his conception? It comes from the Jewish concept of the "integral age" of the great Jewish prophets. This is the notion that the prophets of Israel died on the same dates as their birth or conception. Therefore, if Jesus died on March 25, he was also conceived that day. The pseudo-(John)Chrysostomic work de solstitia et aequinoctia conceptionis et nativitatis nostri Iesu Christi et Iohannis Baptistae accepts the same calculation. St. Augustine mentions it as well. Other ancient Christians believed Jesus was conceived on March 25th for another reason: they believed (based on Jewish calculations of the period) that the creation of the world occurred that day. Thus, it was fitting that the one who makes us new creations was conceived on the day the world was created. For more information on this subject check out Choosing the Date of Christmas: Why December 25?, by the author of this web page, Calculating Christmas by William Tighe, and The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church.

Of interest, the Feast of the Annunciation is one of the 4 "Quarter Days" in the Church. These are days which fall around the equinoxes or solstices, and mark the beginnings of the natural seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. These Quarter Days were Christian feast days used in medieval times to mark "quarters" for legal purposes. The other days Quarter Days are the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (June 24), Michaelmas (September 29), and Christmas (December 25).

source:wikipedia/churchyear.net/ 

photo:photo:the Annunciation: Artist: Peter Paul Rubens
Style: Baroque

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