Solemnity of the Annunciation
To celebrate this beautiful feast, we are delighted to give you Sr. Bernadette Marie's sermon from yesterday's Solemn Chapter:
The Incarnation of the Word in Mary's womb is the precursor to us of the Holy Eucharist. Each day Christ's incarnation is repeated at every Mass at the moment of Consecration. St. Augustine wrote, "O awesome dignity of the priest's, in whose hands as in the womb of the Virgin the Son of God becomes incarnate." And He becomes incarnate in each one of us when we receive Him in Holy Communion. His love for us is so great that He was not content to be united to the purest of virgins; He desired to be united to each one of us in particular. Who will ever understand God's immense love for us! Who can fathom His great humility!
St. Gregory the Great said, "Do you wish to know, dearly beloved, the leaps Christ made? He came from heaven into the womb of the Virgin; from the immaculate womb He went to the manger; from the manger He went to the cross; from the cross He went to the tomb." We can add one final leap to this, namely, to the Eucharist, because as St. Thomas Aquinas sings in the inspired stanzas of the Adoro Te: "On the cross only His divinity lay concealed, but here [in the Eucharist] is also hidden His humanity."
Because we have the privilege of receiving Jesus in Holy Communion on a daily basis and because our human nature is weak, there is always the danger of Holy Communion becoming routine, and that we might offer an inadequate reception to the Divine Guest. For this reason, Mary must be our model; for she received Jesus with such love and joy in her heart. Who better than Mary, the highly favored one, whom God chose to unite His divinity to our humanity, can teach us the way to receive Jesus in our body and in our soul. The Mother of God is also our Mother, and like any good mother, she sets the example for her children to follow. Her faith, her humility and her gratitude for God's infinite goodness are all virtues to admire and imitate.
Mary is also the spouse of the Holy Spirit. Mary said to the angel, "But how can this come about since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow." St. Bernard says that the Holy Spirit is necessary to us just as He was to Mary, whom He covered with His shadow to protect her virginal body at the approach of the Divinity.
Just as the Holy Spirit was present in Mary in conceiving Jesus, in forming the Body of Christ, so also will the Holy Spirit act in us in our Communions. He wants to make of us other Christs. He desires to change us spiritually into Jesus, to make us one being with Him. So that when Jesus ceases to be with us sacramentally, He will still live in us spiritually. In this way the Holy Spirit prolongs our Communion, continuing in us the divine life of Jesus. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "The Holy Spirit prepared Mary by his grace." The Holy Spirit will also help us to receive Jesus, like Mary, with a heart full of love and fervor. "The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with sighs too deep for words."
So as we celebrate this day Christ's incarnation in Mary's womb, the day "the Word was made Flesh," with a humble heart let us give thanks to God for this "Sacrament of Love", as St. Thomas called it. For with the Eucharist God has given us everything. That is why St. Augustine exclaimed: "Although God is all-powerful, He is unable to give more; though supremely wise, He knows not how to give more; though vastly rich, He has not more to give."