25 March : The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Comments of pieces by Dom Baron

The purpose of this feast is to commemorate and recapture the moment in which was accomplished the mystery of the Incarnation, that is to say, God's proposal to Our Lady, her acceptance, and finally the union of the divine nature and human nature in the Person of the Word, who is the Incarnation properly speaking. By taking our human nature, the Word took in Himself, in a certain manner, all humanity and each one of us in particular. Why does the angel seek the consent of this fifteen-year-old girl? What does she have that gives her the authority to represent mankind in this affair of capital importance? Outwardly, nothing. Inwardly, everything. God, in fact, from all eternity, has predestined her to be the mother of Christ and, in Him, spiritually the mother of all men. Thus, empowered by God Himself, she can quite rightly give her consent on behalf of all her children.

 

Introit: Vultum tuum

"All the rich among the people shall entreat 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."

Psalm 44 is the nuptial canticle of Christ and the Church. The verses which form the antiphon of the Introit are taken from the reply of the bridegroom's friend to the bride, but, in the liturgical context of the Annunciation, they take a slightly different meaning. They are the compliment the Church pays to Christ, who has just been conceived, or to His mother, who has just conceived Him. The words can be interpreted in both ways.

Gradual: Diffusa est

"Grace is poured abroad in thy lips; therefore hath God blessed thee for ever. Because of truth and meekness, and justice; and thy right hand shall conduct thee wonderfully."

Here again, it is hard to say to whom these words are addressed: either to Christ to celebrate the eternal praise of the Father that He begins in Our Lady's womb, His fidelity, His meekness, His justice and the wonderful destiny to which His right hand shall lead Him; or to Our Lady, who has just spoken the momentous words of the Ecce ancilla Domini and of her fiat, and who, too, blessed for ever, goes towards her triumphant destiny, faithful, meek, and holy.


Alleluia: Ave Maria gratia plena

It is the angelic salutation. To this divine praise, which surpasses every other praise, the Church mingles her own and offers it to our Lady as the most perfect homage to her holiness and divine maternity. The original of the melody is the Alleluia Eripe me of the 9th Sunday after Pentecost. The adaptation, though, is not very successful. The Ave Maria is a joyous salutation, while the Eripe me is the prayer of an afflicted soul; the melody, intrinsically heavy and plaintive, is incapable of expressing the delicate and profound joy of the angelic salutation. This Ave Maria is only beautiful when sung as a humble supplication.

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