SOLEMNITY OF THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD
Luke, Chapter 1, verse 30:
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
It is important to note as the Vatican Council II pointed out at the message of the angel, Mary received the word of God in her heart and in her body and gave the world Christ. Notice that in order to be the blessed sanctuary of the messiah it was necessary for her to be fearless. Mary is a model of courage for us and at the death of her son she shows both her courage and generosity in accepting us all as her adopted sons and daughters.
The feast commemorates the most sublime moment in the history of time, the moment when the Second Divine Person of the most Holy Trinity assumed human nature in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Thus, it is a feast of our Lord, even as it is of Mary, although the liturgy centers wholly around the Mother of God. — The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch
"Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”
969 "This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. . . . Therefore, the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix."
973 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.
Things to Do
· This feast is very important in the defense of the life of unborn children. Even with small children, this is a good day to begin teaching about the high value God places on human life. He loved us so much that he became one of us, took on our human nature and became an innocent, completely dependent infant.
· This is a Solemnity, so when this feast falls during the Lenten season, our Lenten penance obligations are lifted. We should celebrate by some special food or dinner. This feast day forecasts the blessed event of Christmas and illustrates how the liturgical year is an endless circle of days. To celebrate this circle or cycle, serve a cake, coffee rings, or wreath-shaped cookies, or foods shaped in ring molds for this feast day. A perfect symbolic food would be an angel food cake for the archangel Gabriel, baked in a tube pan for the endless circle, decorated with the frosting highlighted with blue for Mary.
· A traditional food for this day is waffles. "Lady Day" or Annunciation is the only feast of Mary that Sweden still celebrates since the Lutheran faith became the state religion in 1593. In most of Europe, waffles are a traditional feast day food, but on the feast of the Annunciation in Sweden this is THE "Waffle Day" (Vaffeldagen), where waffles are served either for breakfast, lunch or dinner, with lingonberries or cloudberries.
Goffine’s Devout Instructions~Feast of the Annunciation
THIS feast is so called from the announcement to the Blessed Virgin, by the archangel Gabriel, that she was to be the mother of the Messias. In the Introit of the Mass the Church refers to this high dignity of Mary’s: All the rich shall en treat thy countenance; after her shall virgins be brought to the King; her neighbors shall be brought to thee in gladness and rejoicing. My heart hath uttered a good word, I speak my works to the King.
Prayer. O God, Who didst please that Thy Word should take flesh, at the message of an angel, in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, grant to Thy suppliants that we, who believe her to be truly the Mother of God, may be blessed by her intercession with Thee.
EPISTLE. Isaias vii. 10-15.
In those days the Lord spoke to Achaz, saying: Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God, either unto the depth of hell, or unto the height above. And Achaz said I will not ask, and I will not tempt the Lord. And he said: Hear ye therefore, O house of David: Is it a small thing for you to be grievous to men, that you are grievous to my God also?
Therefore, the Lord Himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and His name shall be called Emmanuel. He shall eat butter and honey, that He may know to refuse the evil and to choose the good.
Instruction on The Angelic Salutation, Or Hail Mary.
Why is this prayer called the Hail Mary, Angelic Salutation? Because it begins with the words which the archangel Gabriel addressed to the Blessed Virgin when he announced to her that she should be the Mother of God.
Of what does the Angelic Salutation consist?
1. Of the words of the archangel Gabriel.
2. Of the words of St. Elizabeth.
3. Of words which have been added thereto by the Catholic Church.
Which are the words of the archangel Gabriel? Hail [Mary], full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women.
What is the meaning of these words? The words; Hail Mary indicate that profound veneration for the Blessed Virgin which was felt by the archangel Gabriel, and which we, in imitation of his example, ought also to cherish. The words full of grace remind us that God bestowed upon the Blessed Virgin greater graces than upon all men and angels together; and that not for herself alone, but for us also; they therefore encourage us to pray to Mary with fervor and confidence, that by her powerful intercession she will obtain for us the graces necessary for our salvation. The Lord is with thee; these words express the peculiar complacency with which God has regarded her, on account of which He wrought in her special miracles of wisdom, omnipotence, and benignity. Let us rejoice with Mary over these prerogatives, and implore her to intercede for us, that God may be with us also, to sustain us by His almightiness, to govern us by His wisdom, to incite us to all that is good by the fire of His infinite love. Finally, the words Blessed art thou among women are as much as to say: Thou art the happiest of all women, since thou alone of them all hast no stain of sin on thee; thou art chosen to be the Mother of God; thou shalt conceive Him by the Holy Ghost, and shalt bring Him forth without losing thy virginity. Thus, it was that the angel saluted the most blessed Virgin, and yet there are men who are ashamed thus to salute Mary, and to give praise for the graces which God conferred upon her.
Which are the words of Elizabeth, and what do they mean? And blessed is the fruit of thy womb; the word blessed is equivalent to praised. In saying these words, therefore, we desire that the fruit of Mary’s womb, Jesus, may be worshipped and praised by all men.
Which are the words which the Catholic Church has added? To the words Blessed is the fruit of thy womb she has added; Jesus; in order thereby to explain them, and to indicate that this prayer is to be offered in the name of Jesus. There upon follow the words, Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.
What do these words mean? With the words, Holy Mary, we apply to her who is full of grace as our intercessor, and thereby are reminded to strive to imitate her holiness, if we would be sure of her intercession, and of being heard before God. We call her Mother of God, because she brought forth Jesus, the Son of God. Thereby we at the same time remind her that she is our mother also, and pray her to care for us as a mother ; not as though we believed she could of herself help us, but with the design that she should offer to God her all-prevailing prayers for us; hence we say, Pray for us, adding, sinners. By these words we remind Mary of our misery, and ourselves of our powerlessness for good, and of our guiltiness in the sight of God, praying her to procure for us the grace of God to do true penance, to acquire virtues, and to gain true peace, and that; now, inasmuch as at every moment, and throughout our whole life, we have so many dangers to meet, so many virtues to gain; and at the hour of our death, that we may overcome the temptations of the last decisive hour, and stand complete victors before the throne of the eternal Judge. Amen, so may it be, is, as it were, to repeat and make stronger the whole prayer.
GOSPEL. Luke i. 26-38.
At that time 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 forever, 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.
Salutation to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.
Hail, Mary, full of grace! I rejoice, and give joy to thee, that thou hast been chosen the Mother of the Most High, and the queen of heaven and earth. With thee is the Father Who begot, from all eternity, Him Whom thou didst bring forth as God-man in time; with thee is the Son, Whom thou didst bear in thy virginal womb; with thee is the Holy Ghost, overshad owed by Whose power thou didst become the Mother of the Redeemer of the world. Praised, therefore, be thou, thou blessed among women; thou daughter of the Most High; thou bride of the Holy Ghost; thou joy of heaven; thou ornament of the Church of God; thou honor of Christians. Oh, pray God for us, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Read: Exactly nine months before we celebrate the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, we celebrate the Annunciation of the Lord.
Reflect: In today’s Gospel, we hear how Mary answered God’s call to bear his only Son. How are you called to serve the Lord in your daily life? Are you paying attention to what God is asking of you?
Pray: Add the Angelus to your daily prayer today.
Act: Say the Hail Mary before your mealtime prayer today with your family.
Tolkien Reading Day
In recent years The Tolkien Society have provided information packs, bookmarks and posters for schools taking part in this event. They have also provided free posters for events held by libraries and the general public taking place near to the event, rather than on the 25th.
ObservancesWith the popularity of the Lord of The Rings film triliogy firmly influencing the popularity of the books, Tolkien Reading Day was set up with hopes of getting even more people reading and discovering that there is much more to Tolkien than just The Lord of the Rings.
Typical events consist of readings and discussions, but some groups re-enact scenes from the Lord of the Rings books.
Lord of the Rings
A battle against evil alone does not make The Lord of the Rings fundamentally Christian and Catholic; and yet there are many ways that it is.
Here are some of the ways The Lord of the Rings is a Christian myth.
1. Darkness pervades Middle-earth where man, beast and nature are called to an adventure full of peril and hope. Here is how Elijah Wood explains the film's dominant theme: No matter how bad things are, no matter how much evil there is in this world, there is always some good worth fighting for, worth standing up for, and worth some effort in carrying on.
2. The One Ring illustrates how evil can entice and enslave. Beautiful gold rings are enticing to wear. But when we slip them on our fingers, we announce our devotion and loyalty to their owner.
3. Gandalf and Saruman, while not analogous, have traits, goals, and experiences similar to those of Jesus and Satan. Gandalf is even tempted in a battle with Saruman not unlike Christ is tempted by Satan in the wilderness.
4. Evil is parasitic and can only destroy that which was created. Everything that (God) created in Middle-earth (and in our world) is good. It is the perversion and corruption of what was created that is evil. Good can exist on its own. Evil can only live off what is good.
5. Like all Christians, Frodo is called to risk his life through great peril to save others. Frodo, like us, does not appear to be up to the task. He does not have any obvious talent suited for war. But he is chosen, as we are. We are all necessary for God's grand plan to be fulfilled; and even the most unlikely and disgusting Gollum-like beast in our life is necessary. And when Frodo asks, "What can a little hobbit do?" — Isaiah answers, "A little child will lead them" (11:6).
6. In the Shire, the Hobbits come naturally to living a beatific life that Christ calls Christians to live by. The Hobbits are the meek that inherit the earth, the merciful who receive mercy, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers. (Mt. 5:3-12)
7. Like all Christians, Tolkien's characters are called to play roles in a story tht is much greater and more important than they are aware. Just as we are not aware of all that has happened before us, so Gandalf, at the end of The Hobbit, says to Bilbo, "You don't really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? "you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!"
8. There is a longing for the return of the king. As Christians long for the return of Christ the King, so the free people of Middle-earth long for their kingdoms to be once more united in peace and justice under the rightful heir. Did I mention that Aragorn looks like Christ?
9. The Fellowship of the Ring is constituted of different characters with different gifts suited for battling evil — the diversity keeps them united. This is not unlike the diversity of spiritual gifts and temporal talents given to the different members of the Christian community for the unity of the body — so that we might be dependent on each other.
10. Upon leaving Lorien, each of the Fellowship members are given custom fitted Elvish hooded cloaks not unlike St. Paul's amour in Ephesians 6:10-17. Again, Tolkien disliked allegory; so the cloaks are not exactly like St. Paul's armour of salvation. But they do have mystical traits of great aid that keep them safe in their battle with evil.
A Catholic Core The Lord of the Rings is also Catholic.
A Catholic Core The Lord of the Rings is also Catholic.
11. There are sacraments not symbols. For their journey, Galadriel graciously bestows upon the Fellowship — a representation of the church — seven mystical gifts; no mere symbols these, but glimmering reflections of the Church's seven sacraments — the conveying of spiritual grace through temporal rites. And at her Mirror, Galadriel derides the Reformers' taunt of Eucharistic magic in the Mass when she says: "For this is what your folk would call magic, I believe; though I do not understand clearly what they mean; and they seem to use the same words for the deceits of the enemy."
12. As grace and creation is experienced through a sacrament, so control and destruction is experienced through an anti-sacrament — the One Ring. The ring that Frodo bears is not symbolic, but rather operates as an anti-sacrament. Dependent on a person's spiritual disposition, a sacrament literally allows grace and life to flow into a person through the physical realm. Likewise, in Middle-earth, the characters' spiritual disposition makes them more or less susceptible to the anti-sacrament power of the ring, which if worn, literally brings evil and destruction upon the bearer.
13. The protagonists pursue absolutes, rejecting any willingness to compromise or relativize. In Middle-earth there is an absoluteness of what is right and wrong. There is no hint of moral relativism that separates the different peoples, races, or creators of the freelands. Aragorn says to Eomer: "Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among men."
14. The protagonists embrace suffering as a requirement of working out their salvation. It isn't enough to simply believe or have faith to be free of the tyranny of evil each of our protagonists must sacrifice and work hard through great peril to secure their salvation and the right ordering of their world.
15. The Shire, described as the ideal community, reflects the social teachings of Catholicism. The Hobbits benefit from a community structure with little formal organization and less conflict. They work only enough to survive and otherwise enjoy each other's company. There is no jealousy, no greed, and rarely does anyone do anything unexpected. There is a wholeness and graciousness about it that seems to come naturally out of selflessness.
16. Gandalf, the steward of all things good in the world, reflects the papacy. Gandalf is leader of the free and faithful. He is steward of all things good in the world, but he claims rule over no land. As the Popes of history did with kings and emperors of our world, so Gandalf crowns the king and blesses him to rule with justice and peace.
17. Middle-earth ideology reflects a corporate moral hierarchy and not individualism. There is no democracy or republic in Middle-earth. There are spiritual leaders like Gandalf, and Kings like Theoden and Elessar with lords and vassals. There is no defense of individualism, no claim of choice, and no justification for an individual to follow his conscience.
18. There is a mystical Lady, like The Blessed Mother, who responds miraculously to pleas for help. The Lady is named Varda (or in Elvish, Elbereth or star-queen) and although she is never seen, she's is described as holy and queenly; and when her name is invoked — "O Elbereth! Gilthoniel! — as Frodo and Sam do on occasion, miracles follow that protect the quest and defeat the present enemy.
19. The sign of the cross. At the end of the first movie (and the beginning of the second book) Aragorn kneels beside the mortally wounded Boromir — and as he dies, Aragorn makes a rudimentary sign of the cross touching first his forehead and then his lips. It is a salute to Avatar, the One who created all.
20. There is a last sharing of cup and bread, not unlike O.T. manna and its fulfillment in The Eucharist.Before the Fellowship departs from Lorien, Galadriel bids each to participate in a farewell ritual and drink from a common cup. More significant is the mystical Elvish food given to the fellowship — lembas or waybread. A small amount of this supernatural nourishment will sustain a traveler for many days.
All of this should make viewing or reading The Lord of the Rings a more interesting and insightful experience for both Christians and Catholics.
All of this should make viewing or reading The Lord of the Rings a more interesting and insightful experience for both Christians and Catholics.
“Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon those who fear him, upon those who count on his mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive through famine.” (Ps. 33:18-19)
Everyone deserves to experience some unconditional love, and many go to great lengths to find it and do not. We were created for love but not earthly love. Earthly love is but a foretaste of the love God has for you. Today love someone with no conditions; just love them. For love alone holds the secret to life. There is hope in the midst of calamity.
"To love someone is to desire that person's good, AND to take effective steps to secure it"- Benedict XVI'
The Way Scruples
"Read these counsels slowly. Pause to meditate on these thoughts. They are things that I whisper in your ear-confiding them-as a friend, as a brother, as a father. And they are being heard by God. I won't tell you anything new. I will only stir your memory, so that some thought will arise and strike you; and so you will better your life and set out along ways of prayer and of Love. And in the end you will be a more worthy soul."
Gloominess, depression. I am not surprised: it is the cloud of dust raised by your fall. But... that's enough! Can't you see that the cloud has been borne far away by the breath of grace? Moreover, your gloominess, if you don't fight it, could very well be the cloak of your pride. — Did you really think yourself perfect and incapable of sinning?