As we enter the Season of Easter and celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the historical and transcendent event, we will also commemorate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord on April 8. This solemnity is usually commemorated on March 25 (9 months before Christmas), but since it fell on the Monday of Holy Week, the Church transferred the solemnity to next Monday. The Church’s decision was based on the fact that Holy Week takes precedence over any of the solemnities and feasts in the liturgical calendar.
As I have done over the past year with other Marian solemnities, I will focus on the Annunciation of Our Lord for two weeks. This week will be the words from one of the great Saints and Doctors of the Church – Saint Francis de Sales. I have written about him and quoted St. Francis de Sales quite a few times over the past months. You can read his words on many of the Marian solemnities here. Next week, April 8, I will write on the Annunciation itself and provide you with some important theology regarding the great announcement of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the role that Mary plays in this epic event.
The following excerpts are from a sermon given by Saint Francis de Sales on March 25, 1621 at a religious Profession –
“This sacred Virgin was, then, a very perfect religious, as we have said, and she is the special Protectress of souls who dedicate themselves which she practiced and manifested more excellently than all others on the day of her glorious Annunciation, virtues which I will only mention in passing and then I will conclude. First, a virginity and purity which has nothing like in in all creation. Secondly, a sovereign and profound humility, joined and united inseparably to charity.”
“Virginity and absolute chastity is an angelic virtue; but though it belongs more especially to angels than to men, yet the purity of Our Lady infinitely surpassed that of the angels, having three great perfections above theirs, even that of the cherubim and seraphim…that of the angels is sterile and can produce no fruit. On the contrary, that of our glorious Mistress was not only fruitful because she produced for us this sweet Fruit of Life, Our Lord and Masters, but in the second place she has begotten many virgins. It is it in imitation of her, as we have said, that virgins have vowed their chastity.”
“But she was not only virgin par excellence above all others, angels as well as men – she was also more humble than all others. This was manifest excellently on the day of the Annunciation. She then the made the greatest act of humility that was ever made or ever will be made by a pure creature; for seeing herself exalted by the angel who saluted her, saying she was full of grace and that she would conceive a Son who would be both God and Man…Our Lady, being reassured by the angel and having learned what God willed to do with her and in her, made this supreme act of humility, saying: I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say. She saw herself raised to the highest dignity that ever was or will be, for though it should please God to create anew many worlds, He could never make a pure creature be greater than the Mother of God.”
“Our Lady humbled herself and acknowledged herself unworthy of being raised to the high dignity of Mother of God; therefore she was made to be His Mother, for she had no sooner uttered the protestation of her littleness than, having abandoned herself to Him by an act of incomparable charity, she became the Mother of the Most High, who is the Saviour of our souls.”