Thursday, March 24, 2011

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

Sunset begins our observance of the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, which, as I mentioned last Saturday, falls nine months prior to our observance of the Nativity of the Lord. Because the Annunciation is a solemnity, though not a holy day of obligation, we are not required to abstain from meat on this particular Friday of Lent because we observe solemnities as we do Sundays. In the Latin Church Sundays are always feast days, not fast days.

"Lowliness is assured by majesty, weakness by power, mortality by eternity. To pay the debt for our sinful state, a nature that is incapable of suffering was joined to one that could suffer. Thus, in keeping with the healing that we needed, one and the same mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, was able to die in one nature, and unable to die in another...

"He took the nature of a servant without stain of sin, enlarging our humanity without diminishing his divinity. He emptied himself; though invisible he made himself visible, the Creator and Lord of all things he chose to be one of us mortal men. Yet this was the condescension of compassion, not the loss of omnipotence. So, he who in the nature of God had created man, became in the nature of a servant man himself." (Pope St. Leo the Great)

The Annunciation, by John William Waterhouse, 1914

Of course, this occurred in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

From the Christian East Hieromonk Athanasios the Iviritan, speaking to a Lutheran minister from Norway, said, "We worship God, we honor the saints, and we venerate the only Mother of God with pure filial emotions, for she is our sweetest Mother by grace. Oh, how you are deprived... because you do not venerate her who is the second after God to administer His gifts to all mankind."

East meets West when Athanasios notes that it was none other than St. Augustine who said, "three things could not have been more perfectly created by our omnipotent God than these: the Incarnation, the Virgin, and the blessed life of the just in the life to come."

A deep diaconal bow to John Sanidopoulos, who blogs at Mystagogy for the part by Athanasios. The excerpt from St. Leo's sermon comes from the Office of Readings for the Solemnity of the Annunciation.

Veni Sancte Spiritus, veni per Mariam

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