Solemnity of the Annunciation

In the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours, a letter from St. Leo the Great is included for the Solemnity of Annunciation.  It is a beautiful letter that expresses well the tension within the mystery of the Incarnation: that God takes on human nature and flesh in order to save humanity.  One of his descriptions for the event of the annunciation stood out to me.  He describes it as the “condescension of compassion.”  Condescension is not a pejorative term.  Literally, the word means to “come down.”  God does not come to condemn but to suffer with humanity in the sin we have introduced into the world.  This coming of compassion would not have come into the world if it not were for Mary.  Mary’s “yes” enabled God to take on our human nature and fulfill his Mission.

With a mystery so profound in our Christian tradition, I do not think it will be of much profit to write about it.  Rather, I have included and adaptation of St. Ignatius’s meditation on the Annunciation from the Spiritual Exercises.  When you have a quiet moment this day, pray with imaging the scene in your mind’s eye.  Ask yourself: what would possess God to save humanity?  What would possess Mary to say “yes”?

  1. Bring to mind once again the various persons on the surface of the earth, in such variety, in dress as in actions: some white and others black; some in peace and others in war; some weeping and others laughing; some well, others ill; some being born and others dying, etc.

Hear what the persons on the face of the earth are saying, that is, how they are talking with one another, how they sneer and blaspheme, etc.;

  1. See and consider the Three Divine Persons, as on their royal throne or seat of Their Divine Majesty. How do they look?  What do they see when they look upon all the surface and circuit of the earth, and all the people in such blindness?  How do they feel seeing how some are dying and going down to Hell?

Hear what the Divine Persons are saying, that is: “Let Us work the redemption of the Human race,” etc.; and then what the Angel and Our Lady are saying; and reflect then so as to draw profit from their words.

  1. Now see Our Lady, and the Angel who is saluting her; reflect in order to get profit from such a sight.

What are the Angel and Our Lady doing?  See the Angel doing his duty as ambassador, and Our Lady humbling herself by giving thanks to the Divine Majesty.  Watch as she says “yes” to the Angel.  What are the movements in her heart?  Reflect in order to draw some profit from each of these things.

March 25th, 2017