As a convert, I did not grow up learning the Catholic faith on my mother’s knee. When I first heard of the feast day of the ‘Annunciation of the Lord’, the first thought that crossed my mind was “Isn’t it the Annunciation of Mary?”
While learning to pray the Rosary, and reflecting on the mystery of the Annunciation, I thought of it solely as a Marian feast. But I realized how silly that was.
The Annunciation memorializes not only Mary’s choice to willingly give herself as a vessel for God, but also that God humbled himself to be born as a helpless child of this woman. “For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son.” (John 3:16)
It was a mutual act of Love. God loved the world enough to take up the Cross and become our salvation. And Mary loved God enough to take on all of the crosses that she would have to bear along the way.
Its one thing to memorize that March 25th is an important Feast Day and a Holy Day of Obligation. Its another thing to truly immerse yourself in the events and lives of Jesus and Mary. To know, feel, and commiserate with Jesus and Mary makes the events in their lives seem truly present, right now in this day.
As you sit down on the cold wooden bench and smell the incense in the air, the same icons from last Sunday are there. The same neighbors are in their pews. But you sense that something is different. After a moment, you realize that what is different is you. You feel a real connection to the story of Mary as the priest reads the Gospel.
You long to be there, to be a part of what is unfolding, and be not just an onlooker but a participant. And because the Mass makes the sacrifice of Christ new again in every age, your wish is not a vain hope, but is fulfilled in your presence.
St. Augustine famously wrote, “Late have I loved thee, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late, have I loved thee! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.” As a convert, I know along St. Augustine what it is to wish that I had been able to come sooner to the table of the Lord. I wish I had been able to dissect, consume, and breathe the essence of truth within the beautiful mysteries of God.
The Annunciation was one of those feasts which I didn’t know about growing up and didn’t even know what it meant until I was a teenager. But, now as a growing Catholic, I understand how important this event was—no, not “was” but “is”, because it continues to reverberate in the lives of the believers around the world.
As we celebrate the Feast of “The Annunciation of the Lord” let us not close the book when Mass is over. Let us continue to educate our children about this miraculous event at home by reading to them about it, leading family discussions about vocations, praying the Angelus, and participating in activities which help our children to relate the gospel and the sermon to the truth of the story and our lives.