Sunday, November 25, 2007

1st Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation

And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth,
To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin's name was Mary.
And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
Who having heard, was troubled at his saying and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be.
And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.
Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus.
He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father: and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever.
And of his kingdom there shall be no end.
And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man?
And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren.
Because no word shall be impossible with God.
And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38 Douay Rheims)

I've always loved this picture of the Annunciation. It's almost as if someone had gone back in time and snapped a photo of the Event. The film only picks up the Archangel Gabriel as a source of Light, but undoubtedly, Our Lady sees him as he really is. (I did some background and discovered it was painted by Henry Ossawa Tanner, in 1898.)

So, I've always wondered what Our Lady was doing right before St. Gabriel appeared to her. Was she doing some household chore? Baking or preparing to bake? Cleaning? Perhaps she was thinking about Joseph and how kind and gentle he was. No matter. But no doubt she was startled to find an Angel right there in the room with her! Then he addresses her as "Full of Grace", and now she is confused as well. He puts her at ease and tells her the reason for his visit. Now she is even more confused. "How can this be?" He assures her that her vow of Virginity will not be compromised. Mary, whose will is most intimately united to the Will of God, humbly responds that she is a "handmaid of the Lord" and to "let it be done". Her trust in God is complete and absolute.
The virtue or fruit of this Mystery is Humility.

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