Thursday, March 25, 2010

March 25: The Feast of the Annunciation

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation.  The Catholic Encyclopedia explains:
The Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (25 March), also called in old calendars: FESTUM INCARNATIONIS, INITIUM REDEMPTIONIS CONCEPTIO CHRISTI, ANNUNTIATIO CHRISTI, ANNUNTIATIO DOMINICA. In the Orient, where the part which Mary took in the Redemption is celebrated by a special feast, 26 December, theAnnunciation is a feast of Christ; in the Latin Church, it is a feast of Mary. It probably originated shortly before or after the council of Ephesus (c. 431). At the time of theSynod of Laodicea (372) it was not known; St. ProclusBishop of Constantinople (d. 446), however, seems to mention it in one of his homilies. He says, that the feast of the coming of Our Lord and Saviour, when He vested Himself with the nature of man (quo hominum genus indutus), was celebrated during the entire fifth century. This homily, however, may not be genuine, or the words may be understood of the feast of Christmas.
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Reform of the Reform said...

I wonder how many Catholics today think of the Feast of the Annunciation as the Festum Incarnationis, the feast of the incarnation. I suspect many ordinary Catholic folks would think that the incarnation is Christmas, no doubt supported by a bad ICEL translation of the Creed for the past 40 years.
In very ancient times, 25 March or 7 April, depending in which region of the world one lived (i.e. different calendars), this date not only honored the incarnation but also the death of Christ because the birth and death of Christ has always been associated together. Later the 2 became separate liturgical occasions, with the celebration of the birth of Christ homored 9 months later and was part of the Epiphany, the manifestations of the Divine Christ to the world.
In a way it is unfortunate that today's feast is not as important as Christmas; in view of the lack of support against abortion among so many Catholics today, perhaps today's feast should become even more important than Christmas as a reminder. This would be an example of what is meant by Lex orandi: Lex credendi.

Mark said...

I remember reading about the date of March 25th in Peter Kreeft's "The Philosophy of Tolkien." In his fantasy epic "The Lord of the Rings," the Catholic Medievalist Tolkien has the evil Ring of Power destroyed on March 25th. Kreeft goes on to explain that there was an devotional tradition in the Middle Ages that Good Friday fell on March 25th. I found that interesting.

Mark Osborne