St. Gabriel and the Annunciation
Feast of St. Gabriel: March 24

by Pauly Fongemie

  In the New Testament we have many beautiful examples of Angelic apparitions, the most wondrous of all, is the narrative of the Annunciation, recorded in the Gospel of Luke in the very first chapter, following the appearance of the Angel to Zachary telling him of the coming birth of St. John the Baptist. Just as St. John is the foretype and forerunner of Christ, so the Angel Gabriel appears first to Zachary before he appears to Mary. Angels are very integral in the life of Christ, Mary and Joseph. The story of the Annunciation is perhaps the most beloved of all Bible passages painted in great works of art. Almost every master artist had an Annunciation work, especially in the Baroque and Renaissance periods.

"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, for thou hast found grace with God. And  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 Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the Angel departed from her."

Once Eternity and Time have united, the moments of Time are forever more eternalized. As history, the Annunciation is a past event. But as mystery, it is forever present to us. Our "Hail, full of grace," not "highly favored daughter," as the modernists want to reinterpret Scripture, can go back and forth, uttered today, and reach the ears of Mary on the same day she was greeted by the greatest of all God's messengers, the Angel Gabriel. The name Gabriel means "Strength of God." God does not give names without regard to their meaning, never choosing idly for those who are going to be representing Him. The Strength of God signified in fullest power by way of deed outside Himself. The messenger of the Annunciation is called Gabriel for that precise reason.

The Annunciation was the greatest news ever brought from Heaven to earth. The messenger who brought it is the greatest Angel God could make for that purpose. The Annunciation is the news that God is going to become Man. The Angel Gabriel completely outfitted himself as a man for the bearing of this news.

 When Gabriel came in the Old Testament to the prophet Daniel to tell him how many weeks of years it was going to be until the coming of Christ, he put on a human guise so perfectly that Daniel called him, "the man, Gabriel" [Dan. 9: 21], although he knew that Gabriel was an Angel.

The simple facts of the Annunciation are so innocent and unforgettable that a child can hear them, with God's grace, in all their mysteries. The Annunciation, too, placed on the twenty-fifth day of March in the year 1 A.D. is of special memorial. In the history of all God's dealings with man, March 25 is the most singularly notable day. We know by Revelation the age of the world, whatever theories scientists not given to waiting upon God's Word to speak to them as they go about their research. By reversing our calendars and going back to the first week of creation, we discover that the day on which God made the first man, Adam, was March 25, which was on the sixth day of creation. It was in the same week in which God said, "Let there be light"---on the first day of creation, which was March 20.

 God is beautifully liturgical and respectful of time in all His doings and dealings with man. We know that when Jesus was thirty-three years and three months old, on a Friday afternoon, at three o'clock, on March 25, He died for us on the Cross.

March 25 is a trinity of feasts: the feast of the creation of the first man; it is the feast of the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross; it is the feast of the Incarnation, or the moment when Jesus became Man in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This event occurred in the fifteenth year of her life, in the first month of her potential motherhood, in a little town called Nazareth, of Galilee. It was, to be exact, six months and seventeen days after her fourteenth birthday.

In the Novus Ordo Mass here in America, the Nicene Creed is improperly translated so as to eclipse the Incarnation; by implication Christ became Man when He was born as Man, not conceived in the Womb of of His Mother. This is not only heretical by way of a negation, but it is an extreme insult to Heaven, and moreover betrays our Catholic commitment to the sanctity of human life as taught by the Church. And it simply distorts the grandeur of the Annunciation.

God's supreme messenger of all the Angels came into Mary's room on March 25, beginning his greeting with the words, which we repeat again from above, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." [Luke 1: 28]

Gabriel's greeting to Mary was God's way of saying to her though an Angel, not only to announce to us that Mary was born without Original Sin, to prepare the Church for the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, but also to say "All that I can give by way of grace, I have given, give, and will give to you."

 No one was ever equal to Mary, or comparable to her, in all God ever created. She is the singular and holy and blessed of all the creatures that God ever made. When God made the first woman, Eve, from the loving body of Adam, on the afternoon of  the sixth day of creation, He designed her precisely, especially, and exactly in the way He wanted His future Mother to be. It was because of Mary that Eve was made a woman. It was because of Mary that Eve was given a woman's power to conceive, bear, and nourish a child; a woman's voice---so much gentler than a man's with which to speak to a child, and sing to him.

In the mysteries into which we can move by way of our faith and our prayers, especially in the Holy Rosary, we know there is in God's mind only one Woman: "Blessed art thou among women," was Gabriel's way of sating this at the mystery of the Annunciation. So that we may not forget the significance of the feast of the Annunciation, God went out of His way to let us know, through St. Bernadette of Lourdes, France in 1858, how singular and unique is Mary in the whole host of creation.

Because Gabriel the Archangel came to Mary's room on that March 25 in the guise of a man, Our Lady was troubled at his greeting. But when the Angel Gabriel explained to her that would conceive and bear a Child and would call his name, Jesus [which means Savior], and that her fruitfulness would be effected by the power of the Holy Ghost, Our Lady bowed her head in sweetest humility, and both knowing her dignity and lowliness, said the greatest Fiat uttered in the history of Time. That instance was the Fullness of  Time. At that instant, Time and Eternity reached for each other in an embrace never to be broken. At that instant the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us. It is the moment commemorated by all true adorers of the True God. It is the first mystery of the Rosary, the Annunciation.

Days, dates, hours and events are important when they concern God. Our adorations of Him, and our calendars, go together. We adore God in Mary's womb the moment He has become Incarnate there. We also admire on her holy, innocent and loving eyes the charity which is to send her at once to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, a barren woman and an old one, whom she has learned from the Archangel Gabriel, has also by a miracle, conceived a child.

Not only did the Angel Gabriel announce to Mary her Divine Motherhood, but Angels announced the Birth of the Savior to the shepherds in the fields and hills of Bethlehem. An Angel warned St. Joseph to take the Holy Family into Egypt to escape the slaughter of Herod and again the Angel informed the Patriarch of the Holy family when the time of danger had passed. Angels ministered to Christ in the desert, assisted at His Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, are thought to surround the Cross, although there is no Biblical account of this, but they again appear at the Resurrection, and again at the Ascension into Heaven. Surely they did not leave the Cross.




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