Today the church celebrates the Annunciation, commemorating when the Virgin Mary consented to become the Mother of God. It is a date of significance: nine months before Christmas day, and with a special association with the redemptive mystery of Mary’s Son.
In the earliest decades of the church, the only liturgical cycle was weekly, centering upon Sunday, the primordial feast day, upon which Christ was raised, upon which the Holy Spirit was given. With time, the impetus to have an annual celebration of Christ’s resurrection emerged. Christians took two main approaches. On the one hand, we have the approach that most of us know, because it’s the one that won out: the annual Easter must be on a Sunday, demonstrating the centrality of that primordial feast day), though how to calculate that Sunday has remained a matter of some divergence.
On the other hand, we have the Quartodecimians, who sought to, as far as possible, celebrate our redemption on its actual anniversary: the 14th day of Nisan (Quartodecemian refers to the number 14), which in our Gregorian calendar corresponds to March 25.
Sunday’s gravity was just to great to escape in deciding when to hold our annual celebration of Easter, but the date lived on in the church’s memory until, finally, it became the Feast of the Annunciation.
It’s a day worth celebrating, and it’s a special bonus that this year, it falls on a Friday, giving us a reprieve from our fasting. For your edification, I’ve curated two Marian reflections from our archives:
The first is especially fitting because on this day, Mary became the first to receive Christ bodily, something that all Christians follow her in doing whenever we receive the Blessed Sacrament.
The second focuses upon the nature of Mary’s yes to God when invited into her special mission in the plan of redemption.