Celebrating the Annunciation and Incarnation
Marian Devotion by Explaining its
Marian Focus - We honor Mary precisely because she is united to and in Christ
Proposed new Name for this Solemnity :
Annunciation to the Virgin Mary and
One of the big questions through the years was whether to use this feast to honor and focus on Mary or to honor and focus on Christ. The Eastern Church centered on Christ and His Conception. In the West during the Middle Ages the focus was on the Virgin Mary.
Presently, in the Latin Rite the Church recognizes both its Marian and Christological aspects. It is considered a Marian feast that gets outranked by the Christological Lenten and Easter Sunday feasts, and yet Pope Benedict XVI points out that this feast is also a Christological feast. (See quote below in the Solution section.)
In 1969 the Roman liturgical calendar “restored
the feast as primarily a Solemnity of the Lord in which Mary, his
mother, is intimately associated. The full title of the feast indicates
its Christological focus—the Annunciation of the Lord—restoring its
ancient name. …”
Should we think of this feast as a Marian feast or one honoring Christ ? And which do we do ? Should we even try to make this feast specifically Marian or Christological and separate the two for this feast.
While separating Mary from Christ has some advantages it can also be misunderstood in a way that undermines both a knowledge of Christ as well as Marian devotion. For example, many Protestants have Mary separated so far from Christ that not only do they not honor her, they see no reason to honor her. They misperceive any devotion to her as being opposed to Christ. For them it is, “Jesus OR Mary.”
However, by celebrating both the Annunciation to Mary and the Incarnation of Christ together we can proclaim the bedrock upon which Marian devotion is based, that she is united to Christ. All the glory goes to God who in turn manifests His glory in and through the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the Saints. He is the Source while we are called to be channels of that grace to the world. (See LUMEN GENTIUM 60 and 62, CCC 970.)
How can we honor both Jesus and Mary ?
Is it even right to try to do both ? How can Mary who is a creature, be honored in the same breath as God who is the Creator of all ?
However, think of Homer - and his Iliad, Shakespeare - and his plays, Einstein - and his Theory of Relativity. Of course, we do not put these men and the values of their lives on equal par with their work. And yet we cannot truly know the artist unless we also know his work. And the greatest created work of God is the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
And so understood in the right sense, we can speak of both God and Mary, and I believe honor them both in way that helps us to know each of them better. - It was the Church’s teaching on Mary that helped dispel many of the early Christological heresies such as Nestorianism (Ephesus 431 AD.) And, by emphasizing both God’s and Mary’s role and by moving this Solemnity to a Sunday will give the majority of Catholics the impetus to meditate on the foundation of Marian devotion, that she is united to her Son, Jesus Christ.
One convert pointed out that it was his meditation on this feast that led to his understanding and appreciation of Mary’s role in salvation and eventually led to his acceptance of the Catholic faith.
Choosing to recognize this feast as on occasion to honor both God and Mary seems to have a historical foundation. See article below on “Akathistos” from the New Catholic Encyclopedia.
From New Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I, pages 197-198
“From the Greek ά-κάθισtος, meaning not seated, standing. It is perhaps the most celebrated hymn of the Byzantine Church, and belongs to the poetical genre known as kontakion (see Byzantine Rite, Chants Of). It is performed at the vigil service of the fifth Saturday in Lent, a calendar position that it occupied from an early date; its original association, however, was more probably with the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25.
The body of the poem comprises 24 stanzas (oikoi) linked by an alphabet acrostic—the first 12 treating of the Incarnation and the infancy of Christ, the last 12 alternating the praises of God and His Mother in the even- and odd-numbered stanzas respectively …
early MSS give another stanza, of independent metrical design and standing outside the alphabet acrostic: tή ύπερμάχω σtραtηγώ . . . (To the invincible Leader. . .), a hymn of thanksgiving to the Virgin for the delivery of Constantinople from siege …
the prevailing tendency in more recent
scholarship has been to assign the hymn to the sixth century, or even
somewhat earlier …”
Know Mary, Know Jesus
No Mary, No Baby Jesus
Just as the Icon shows Jesus in Mary the intuitive mind is led to grasp that the key to answering most Protestant objectionings about Marian doctrines can be found in the realization that Mary is in Christ, the Body of Christ, the Church. It is God's grace working through her co-operation.
See how to respond to Marian objections and how
she is a highway to heaven and the best means of going directly to God.
Also see more answers to objections to Marian devotion at