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From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Let us contemplate our blessed Lady as visited by the angel Gabriel, and conceiving in her chaste womb the Creator of the universe and the Redeemer of mankind. But that we may the better relish the sweetness of this great mystery, let us listen to the seraphic St. Bonaventure, who, in his Meditations on the Life of Christ, has brought these sublime scenes of the Gospel so vividly before us, that one would almost suppose an eye-witness was speaking to us. No human language has ever surpassed the unction and pathos of these Meditations.

‘Now, when the fulness of that time had come, wherein the most high Trinity, in exceeding love, had decreed to save mankind by the Incarnation of the Word; the divine mercy, and the instant prayers of the blessed spirits, pressed for the accomplishment of this redemption. The blessed Virgin Mary having returned to Nazareth, the Almighty called unto Him the Archangel Gabriel, and thus spake unto him: “ Go thou unto our well-beloved daughter Mary, that is espoused unto Joseph, and that is dear unto us above all our creatures; and say unto her, that the Son of God hath been taken with her beauty, and chosen her that she be His Mother, Pray her that she accept Him joyously, for that through her have I decreed to save all mankind, and no longer remember the injuries done unto Me.”

‘Whereupon, Gabriel arose joyous and glad, and flew from on high, and suddenly stood in a human form before the Virgin Mary, who was in the inner chamber of her cot. But not so quick had been his flight, but that he found already there the holy Trinity, that had gone before Their ambassador. As soon, therefore, as the faithful spirit Gabriel perceived the Virgin Mary, he said; “Hail full of grace; the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” But she was troubled, and answered him not a word. Her trouble came not from a guilty fear, nor from the sight of Gabriel, for oft-times did she receive the visits of the angels; but, according to what the Gospel saith, she was troubled at his saying, thinking within herself upon it, for that it was strange unto her to hear Gabriel speak such manner of salutation.

‘The humble Virgin was perforce troubled at it, finding therein three praises of herself. She was praised for that she was full of grace; and that the Lord was with her; and that she was blessed above all women. He that is humble cannot hear his own praise without blushes and trouble. Therefore Mary was troubled with fitting and virtuous shame. She began wondering how this that she heard could be true; not forasmuch as she suspected the angel’s having said aught that was false, but by reason that the humble ever ponder their defects and not their virtues, whereby they may always advance; counting their great virtue to be little, and their little defects great. As one that was prudent and wary, timid and bashful, she answered not. In truth, what could she say? Do thou learn, from her example, to be silent, and to love to speak little, for exceeding great and useful is this virtue. Twice is she spoken unto, before she speaks once, for it is a thing intolerable that a virgin should be a great talker.

‘As soon, therefore, as the angel saw that she was thus in doubt, he said: "Fear not, Mary, neither blush thou at the praises I have spoken unto thee, for they are most true. Thou thyself art full of grace; nay, verily I tell thee, that thou hast found for man the grace he had lost. For behold! thou shalt conceive and bring forth a Son, that hath chosen thee for His Mother, and He shall save all that put their trust in Him.” Whereupon she made answer, heeding nothing the praises of the angel, but seeking how it could be that that should not be taken from her, which was precious unto her above measure; and she asked of the angel, saying: "How shall this be? for I have vowed my virginity for ever unto God, that I never should know man.” The angel answered, and said: "It shall be done by the operation of the Holy Ghost, who shall fill thee as no tongue can speak. Thou shalt conceive by His power, yet shalt remain a pure Virgin, and therefore shall thy Son be called the Son of God, For unto God nothing is impossible. For thy cousin Elizabeth, that is old and called barren, has conceived a son by the power of God, now these six months past.”

'Consider here, I beseech thee, for God’s sake, how the Trinity is there, waiting the answer and consent of this Their most beloved daughter, and taking delight in her modesty, and ways, and words; and also, how diligent and wise is the angel in his endeavour to obtain her consent, and how admirable are his words, and how he stands with his head bowed down before his and our Lady, with a placid and recollected look, doing his embassy with exactitude, and attentively noting Mary’s words, so as to be able to satisfy her in his answers, and execute the divine will in this wondrous work. See, too, how our Lady stands in holy fear and humility, showing in her face the blush of modesty, and surprise at this so sudden visit of the angel. Neither have his words extolled her in her own esteem: and albeit they were such as never had been spoken to mortal, yet does she attribute nought to herself but all to grace. Learn, therefore, of her to have modesty and humility, for without them even virginity availeth little. The most prudent Virgin is full of joy, and gives consent unto the words of the angel. Then, as is related in the revelations made to a devout servant of God, throwing herself on her knees with intense devotion, and joining her hands together, she said unto the angel: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word.” Then straightway did the Son of God enter the Virgin’s womb, and took unto Himself flesh of her substance, and though His whole Person was there, yet did He not cease to abide still wholly in the bosom of His Father.

‘Then did Gabriel also kneel down, and shortly after rise up together with our Lady. He once more bowed down even unto the ground, and wishing her farewell, he disappeared: and going back to heaven, he related all these things, and a new joy was there, and a new feast, and exceeding great jubilee. But our Lady, all devout, and burning with a love of God such as she had not felt before, for she perceived what was done within her, knelt to give thanks for this so great gift, humbly and devoutly supplicating the divine Majesty that He would vouchsafe to teach her how she should comport herself with all perfection in her treatment of this His only-begotten Son.’

Such is the description of the mystery of the Annunciation given us by the seraphic Doctor. Let us profoundly adore our Creator, who has thus humbled Himself out of love for us from the desire He has to succour us in our misery. Let us also salute Mary, the Mother of God and of men.

Prose
(Taken from the Cluny Missal of 1523)

In honorem Mariæ Virginis,
Quæ nos lavit a labe criminis,
Celebretur hodie:
Dies est lætitiæ.

De radice Jesse propaginis
Hanc eduxit Sol veri luminis,
Manu sapientiæ,
Templum suæ gratiæ.

Stella nova noviter oritur,
Cujus ortu mors nostra moritur:
Evæ lapsus jam restituitur
In Maria.

Et aurora surgens progreditur;
Sicut luna pulchra describitur;
Super cuncta ut sol erigitur
Virgo pia.

Virgo Mater et Virgo unica,
Virga fumi, sol aromatica,
In te cœli, mundique fabrica
Gloriatur.

Verbum Patris processu temporis
Intra tui secretum corporis;
In te totum, et totum deforis
In te fuit.

Fructus virens arentis arboris
Christus, gigas immensi roboris,
Nos a nexu funesti pignoris
Eripuit.

Condoluit humano generi
Virginalis filius uteri:
Accingantur senes et pueri
Ad laudem Virginis.

Qui potuit de nobis conqueri
Pro peccato parentis veteris,
Mediator voluit fieri
Dei et hominis.

O Maria, dulce commercium
Intrat tuum cœleste gremium,
Quo salutis reis remedium
Indulgetur.

O spes vera et verum gaudium,
Fac post vitae praesentis stadium
Ut optatum in cœlis bravium
Nobis detur.

Amen.

This is a day of joy!
let us celebrate it
in honour of the blessed Virgin Mary,
who gave us him that cleansed us from sin.

He that is the source of true light,
brought up this branch from the root of Jesse;
and his wisdom has made her
the temple of his grace.

It is a new rising of a new star,
at which our death dies:
it is now that what was lost by the fall of Eve,
is found again by Mary.

This is the holy Virgin that is described as the aurora rising,
as the lovely moon,
as the sun,
the brightest of orbs.

O Virgin Mother, Virgin of virgins,
fragrant cloud of smoke,
sun shedding the perfume of its light!
in thee both heaven and earth delight.

In the fulness of time, the Word of the Father
entered into thy chaste womb;
wholly in thee
and wholly in the bosom of his Father.

Jesus, the beautiful fruit of a virgin tree,
snatched us, in his giant strength,
from the claims
which sin and hell had upon us.

This God, that saved the human race,
is the Son of the Virgin:
in that Virgin’s praise
all may justly speak and sing.

He that might have punished us
for the sin of our first parents,
became himself the Mediator
between God and man.

In thy chaste womb, O Mary!
was made that merciful barter,
whereby salvation
was given to the sinner.

Truly, then, thou art the cause of our joy and hope!
Oh! pray, that after running the race of this present life,
we may receive
the lookedfor prize in heaven.

Amen.


[1] Prov. xxxi. 10.
[2] Is. vii. 14.
[3] Ibid. lxii. 12.