Thursday, March 25, 2010

Feast of the Annunciation

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation, the First Joyful Mystery of the Rosary.  Note that on today's date, March 25, there are exactly nine months until Christmas.

The details of this event are related in just one small paragraph in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:26-35; I prefer the Douay-Rheims version), yet it is one of the most pivotal events in human and salvation history. 

The Annunciation can be traced all the way back to Genesis 3:15 (again I prefer the text of the Douay-Rheims Bible).  Mary is indeed that Woman who crushes the head of Satan.  That is why she is often depicted in art with a snake under her foot. 

To aid my Rosary meditation, I often like to find interesting and beautiful works of art that depict the various mysteries.  Since my family travels frequently, I often take the time to visit art museums, and I particularly enjoy looking at religious art. 

I came across this painting of the Annunciation (above) by George Hitchcock in the Art Institute of Chicago.  I was immediately drawn to its simple beauty, and I liked that it was different from so many other typical paintings of this mystery,which usually show an angel presenting Mary with a single lily.  Here, she is surrounded by lilies, the symbol of purity and virginity.  Mary, "full of grace," is the new Eve, depicted in a garden of lilies, reversing the disobedience of the old Eve in that long-ago garden of Paradise.  Her fiat, or yes, will allow us to re-enter that garden.

I could spend the rest of my life meditating on this one mystery of the Rosary and never fully grasp its depth and beauty.  Today, I will reflect on Mary's words, "May it be done to me according to thy word."  I hope and pray that I can find the strength to do what God wills of me.

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