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The Annunciation
Feast Day March 25

"For nothing will be impossible for God."  Those beautiful words of the Angel Gabriel to Mary, bring such comfort and inspiration to those of us who pray for the return of our loved ones to the Catholic Faith.  We have lost count of those who have told us through the years, "I thought his/her return to the Sacraments would never happen.  But with God's Grace and a lot of prayer what I thought was impossible has come to pass!"

The Annunciation

     In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,  and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."
     But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?"
And the angel said to her in reply, "The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.  And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God."
     Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.   ~Luke 1:26-38

The Angelus

The Angelus is prayed to honor the Annunciation of Gabriel to Mary, when the Word became flesh.  It consists of three Hail Mary's with prayerful statements and responses spoken or sung in between.  Traditionally, it is recited three times each day at 6AM, 12 Noon, and 6PM.  Some churches ring three bells at those times, also.

P: The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary
R: And she conceived by the Holy Ghost.

P: Hail Mary, full of grace: The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
R: Holy Mary, Mother of God: Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

P: Behold, the handmaid of the Lord.
R: Be it done unto me according to thy word.

P: Hail Mary, full of grace: The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
R: Holy Mary, Mother of God: Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

P: And the Word was made flesh
R: And dwelt among us.

P: Hail Mary, full of grace: The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
R: Holy Mary, Mother of God: Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

P: Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
R: That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

P: Let us pray.
All:
Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy grace unto our hearts, that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ, thy Son, was made known by the message of an Angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ, our Lord, Amen

Excerpts from the Homily
of John Paul II

Basilica Of The Annunciation in Nazareth
,  March 25, 2000

The divine plan is gradually revealed in the Old Testament, particularly in the words of the Prophet Isaiah. "The Lord himself will give you a sign. It is this: the virgin is with child and will soon give birth to a child whom she will call Emmanuel" (7:14). Emmanuel - God with us. In these words, the unique event that was to take place in Nazareth in the fullness of time is foretold.  It is Mary above all others who can teach us what it means to live the faith of "our father". In many ways, Mary is clearly different from Abraham; but in deeper ways "the friend of God" (cf. Is 41:8) and the young woman of Nazareth are very alike. Both receive a wonderful promise from God. Abraham was to be the father of a son, from whom there would come a great nation. Mary is to be the Mother of a Son who would be the Messiah, the Anointed One. For both Abraham and Mary, the divine promise comes as something completely unexpected. God disrupts the daily course of their lives, overturning its settled rhythms and conventional expectations. For both Abraham and Mary, the promise seems impossible.

Like Abraham, Mary must walk through darkness, in which she must simply trust the One who called her. Yet even her question, "How can this come about?", suggests that Mary is ready to say yes, despite her fears and uncertainties. Mary asks not whether the promise is possible, but only how it will be fulfilled. It comes as no surprise, therefore, when finally she utters her fiat: "I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let what you have said be done to me" (Lk 1:38). With these words, Mary shows herself the true daughter of Abraham, and she becomes the Mother of Christ and Mother of all believers.

I ask the Holy Family to inspire all Christians to defend the family against so many present-day threats to its nature, its stability and its mission. In Nazareth where Jesus began his public ministry, I ask Mary to help the Church everywhere to preach the "good news" to the poor, as he did (cf. Lk 4:18). I ask her to teach us the way of humble and joyful obedience to the Gospel in the service of our brothers and sisters, without preferences and without prejudices.

"O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer me. Amen" (Memorare).