Feast of the Annunciation
In the Divine Will
From the Writings of The Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta
The Little Daughter of the Divine Will
Luisa Piccarreta the Little Daughter of the Divine Will: “With a Novena of Holy Christmas, at the age of about seventeen, I prepared myself for the Feast of Holy Christmas, by practicing various acts of virtue and mortification; and, especially, by honoring the nine months which Jesus spent in the maternal womb with nine hours of meditation each day, always concerning the mystery of the Incarnation.”
THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD – 25 MARCH – SOLEMNITY
The First Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. Today the Church celebrates that day when the Archangel Gabriel requested Our Lady to be the Mother of God. Mary accepts and declares herself to be the handmaid of the Lord. The Annunciation is one of the three most ancient feasts of Our Lady. The feast probably dates from the Council of Ephesus in 431, when Our Lady was proclaimed the Mother of God. This proclamation was because of a heresy which denied Mary’s Divine Motherhood. It was also theCouncil of Ephesus which added the following words to the Hail Mary: “Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, Amen.”
This feast has been known by many names over the years including: “the Feast of the Incarnation,” “the beginning of the Redemption,” “the Conception of Christ” and “the Announcing of the Christ.”
From The Virgin Mary in The Kingdom of the Divine Will:
Day Nineteen – The Queen of Heaven in the Kingdom of the Divine Will.
The Doors of Heaven open, the Sun of the Eternal Word places Itself on the lookout and sends Its Angel to tell the Virgin that the Hour of God has come.
…Now, child of my Heart, pay attention to Me and listen: several days before the descent of the Eternal Word upon earth, I could see Heaven opened and the Sun of the Divine Word at Its doors, as though to look out for the one upon whom He was to take His flight, to render Himself Celestial Prisoner of one creature. Oh, how beautiful it was to see Him at the doors of Heaven, as though on the lookout to spy the fortunate creature who was to host her Creator! The Sacrosanct Trinity no longer looked at the earth as alien to It, because there was little Mary who, by possessing the Divine Will, had formed Its Divine Kingdom in which the Word could safely descend, as in His own residence, in which He would find Heaven and the many suns of the many acts of Divine Will done within my soul. The Divinity overflowed with love, and removing the mantle of Justice which It had worn with the creatures for so many centuries, It covered Itself with the mantle of infinite mercy, and decreed the descent of the Word… and It was now in the act of sounding the hour of fulfillment! At this sound, Heaven and earth were astounded, and all stood at attention, to be spectators of such a great excess of love, and a prodigy so unheard-of.
Your Mama felt ignited with love, and echoing the love of my Creator, I wanted to form one single sea of love, so that the Word might descend upon earth within it. My prayers were incessant, and while I was praying in my little room, an Angel came, sent from Heaven as messenger of the great King. He came before Me, and bowing, he hailed Me: “Hail, O Mary, our Queen; the Divine Fiat has filled You with grace. He has already pronounced His Fiat, for He wants to descend; He is just behind my shoulders, but He wants your Fiat to form the fulfillment of His Fiat.”
At such a great announcement, so much desired by Me – although I had never thought I was to be the chosen one – I was stupefied and I hesitated one instant. But the Angel of the Lord told Me: “Do not fear, our Queen, for You have found grace before God. You have conquered your Creator; therefore, to complete the victory – pronounce your Fiat.”
I pronounced my Fiat, and – oh, marvel! – the two Fiat fused together and the Divine Word descended into Me. My Fiat, which received the same value as the Divine Fiat, from the seed of my humanity, formed the tiny little Humanity which was to enclose the Word, and so the great prodigy of the Incarnation was accomplished.
Oh, power of the Supreme Fiat! You raised Me so high as to render Me powerful, to the point of being able to create within Me that Humanity which was to enclose the Eternal Word, Whom Heaven and earth could not contain! The Heavens were shaken, and all Creation assumed the attitude of feast. Exulting with joy, they peeked over the little house of Nazareth, to give homages and obsequies to the Creator made man; and in their mute language, they said: “Oh, prodigy of prodigies, which only a God could do! Immensity has become little, power has made itself powerless, His unreachable height has lowered itself deep into the abyss of the womb of a Virgin and, at the same time, He is little and immense, powerful and powerless, strong and weak!”
My dear child, you cannot comprehend what your Mama felt in the act of the Incarnation of the Word. All pressed upon Me and awaited my Fiat, I could say, omnipotent.
Now, dear child, listen to Me: how much you should take to your heart doing the Divine Will and living of It! My power still exists: let Me pronounce my Fiat over your soul. But in order to do this, I want your own. One alone cannot do true good; the greatest works are always done between two. God Himself did not want to do it by Himself, but wanted Me together with Him, to form the great prodigy of the Incarnation. In my Fiat and in His, the life of the Man-God was formed; the destiny of mankind was restored, Heaven was no longer closed, and all goods were enclosed between the two Fiat. Therefore, let us say together, “Fiat! Fiat!”, and my maternal love will enclose in you the life of the Divine Will.
Day Twenty The Queen of Heaven in the Kingdom of the Divine Will.
The Virgin is a Heaven studded with Stars. In This Heaven the Sun of the Divine Fiat blazes with Its Most Refulgent Rays, filling Heaven and earth. Jesus in the Womb of His Mama
My dear child, today I await you more than ever. My maternal heart is swollen – I feel the need to pour out my ardent love with my child: I want to say to you that I am the Mother of Jesus. My joys are infinite; seas of happiness inundate me. I can say: I am the Mother of Jesus; His creature, His servant, is Mother of Jesus – and I owe this only to the Fiat. It rendered me full of grace; It prepared the worthy dwelling for my Creator. Therefore, always glory, honor and thanksgiving be to the Supreme Fiat.
Now listen to me, child of my heart. As soon as the little humanity of Jesus was formed in my womb by the power of the Supreme Fiat, the sun of the Eternal Word incarnated Himself in it. I had my heaven, formed by the Fiat, all studded with most refulgent stars which glittered with Joys, beatitudes, harmonies of divine beauty; and the sun of the Eternal Word, refulgent with inaccessible light, came to take His place within this heaven, hidden in His little humanity. And unable to contain it, the center of this sun remained in It, but its light overflowed outside, and investing Heaven and earth, it reached every heart; with the pounding of its light, it knocked at every creature, and with voices of penetrating light, it said to them: “My children, open to me; give me a place in your heart. I have descended from Heaven to earth in order to form my life in each one of you. My Mother is the center in which I reside, and all my children will be the circumference, in which I want to form so many of my lives for as many as are my children.”
And the light knocked, over and over again, without ever ceasing, while the little humanity of Jesus was moaning, crying, and longing; making His tears, His moans and His pangs of love and pain flow within that light which reached into the hearts.
Now, you must know that your Mama began a new life. I was aware of everything that my Son did. I saw Him devoured by seas of flames of love; each one of His heartbeats, breaths and pains, were seas of love that He unleashed, with which He enveloped all creatures to make them His own by force of love and suffering. In fact, you must know that as His little humanity was conceived, He conceived all the pains He was to suffer, up to the last day of His life. He enclosed all souls within Himself, because, being God, no one could escape Him. His immensity enclosed all creatures, His all-seeingness rendered them all present to Him. Therefore, my Jesus, my Son, felt the weight and the burden of all sins of each creature. And I, your Mama, followed Him in everything, and felt within my maternal heart this new generation of the pains of my Jesus, and the new generation of all the souls, whom, as Mother, I was to generate with Jesus to the grace, to the light and to the new life which my dear Son came to bring upon earth.
My child, you must know that from the moment I was conceived, I loved you as mother, I felt you within my heart, I burned with love for you, but I did not know why. The Divine Fiat made me do things, but kept their secret hidden from me. But as He incarnated himself, He revealed the secret to me, and I understood the fecundity of my maternity – as I was to be not only Mother of Jesus, but Mother of all. This maternity was to be formed on the stake of suffering and of love. My child, how much I loved you, and do love you!
Now listen, dear child, to the point one can reach, when the Divine Will takes operating life in the creature, and the human will lets It work, without impeding Its step. This Fiat, which by nature possesses the generative virtue, generates all goods in the creature: It renders her fecund, giving her maternity over all – over all goods, and over the One Who created her. Maternity says and means true love: heroic love – love which is content with dying to give life to the one it has generated. Without this, the word maternity is sterile, it is empty, and is reduced to a mere word, but does not exist in fact. Therefore, my child, if you want the generation of all goods, let the Fiat take Its operating life in you, which will give you maternity, and you will love everyone with the love of a mother. And I, your Mama, will teach you how to fecundate this maternity, all holy and divine, within you.
Do you perhaps recognize the picture above? It’s a famous painting about a famous prayer: the Angelus! In this 19th century work by the French painter Jean-Francois Millet, a farming couple prays the Angelus at dusk.
This prayer is well suited to the artist’s subject matter: two humble people paying homage to our Lord and His Blessed Mother in the Hail Mary, as well as in Gospel verses recalling His Incarnation as the Word entered the World. Its name comes from its opening words in Latin, “Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ.”
V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. Hail Mary, full of grace, The Lord is with Thee; Blessed art thou among women, And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners, Now and at the hour of our death. Amen
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to thy word. Hail Mary, etc.
V. And the Word was made Flesh.
R. And dwelt among us. Hail Mary, etc.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
LET US PRAY Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into 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.
This wonderful prayer evolved from a recitation of three Hail Mary’s following an evening bell around the 12th century to its present form (with morning and midday recitations) in the 16th century.
When prayed in a group setting a leader recites the verses and everyone recites both the responses and the Hail Mary’s in between each verse, as shown above.
Although the Angelus has been traditionally said three times daily, at 6 am, noon and 6 pm, you can pray it at anytime! It is still accompanied by the ringing of a bell (the Angelus bell) in some places such as Vatican City and parts of Germany and Ireland. The Regina Coeli prayer (which may also be sung as a hymn) replaces the Angelus during the Easter season.
The Angelus reminds us of the Annunciation (shown in this famous rendition at left by Fra Angelico), when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary with great, (if somewhat startling), news! As we read in Chapter One of Luke’s Gospel, (Luke 1:26-38) God wished Mary, truly a model of humility, to be the mother of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ! His desire for her brings to mind the line from Matthew’s gospel: “Whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” (Matt 23:12).
Mary was the perfect choice. She had been born without the stain of original sin, as defined by the Church’s dogma of the Immaculate Conception. (Note that the Immaculate Conception relates to Mary’s conception, not our Lord’s.)
When Mary calls herself the handmaid, the servant, of the Lord, in the Angelus (from Luke 1:38) it is with inspiring humility and sincerity. How many politicians do we see today who talk a good game about service but basically just want to set up their own little fiefdoms and raid the public cookie jar? Or how many other insincere displays of humility do we see on TV or in our daily lives?
Mary’s humility was genuine. As St. Alphonsus de Liquori notes in his classic work The Glories of Mary, “her only desire was that her Creator, the giver of every good thing, should be praised and blessed.”
She thought of herself first and foremost as God’s servant, seeking glory not for herself but rather for Him. In so doing, she became, as St. Augustine put it rather poetically, a “heavenly ladder, by which God came into the world,” descending from heaven to earth, to become flesh in her womb.
Mary was happy to have God work through her. As she expressed it most famously in the canticle the Magnificat, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my Spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47). St. Paul echoed this wonderful sentiment when he wrote that “he who boasts, let him boast in the Lord” (2 Cor 10:17).
The Angelus pays tribute to a crucial aspect of Mary’s role in the Incarnation, when it quotes from Luke’s Gospel “be it done to me according to thy word” (Lk 1:38). This wonderful event could not have happened without her consent, without what is known as her fiat. By saying “yes” to God in allowing herself to become His mother, she showed us the ultimate example of trust in our Creator!
Do you think that having that kind of faith is too daunting a task? Think about the ways in which God calls each of in our daily lives. Do we say “yes” when Christ wants to work through us in showing His love to others? Or when He asks us to be graceful in trying situations? Prayer and meditation on God’s Word in scripture can help us to do His will.
Speaking of God’s word, the Angelus completes its short summary of the Incarnation with the moving reference to our Lord from John’s Gospel: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). As we read in the letter to the Hebrews, Christ was like us in all things but without sin (Heb 4:15). St. Bernard noted that our Lord came to show us His love so that He might then experience ours.
The lines that follow about being made worthy of the promises of Christ are also found in the Rosary and tie in well with what follows: an appeal for God’s grace to help us in our pilgrimage of faith.
Jesus loved us enough to die for us so that we might live with Him eternally! When we pray the Angelus with humility and love, we are emulating Mary’s faith in His goodness. We are blessed in that we can ask both God and His Blessed Mother for their assistance on our journey towards Eternal Life!
According to Herbert Thurston, “The history of the Angelus is by no means easy to trace with confidence, and it is well to distinguish in this matter between what is certain and what is in some measure conjectural.” This is an old devotion which was already well established 700 years ago. The Angelus originated with the 11th-century monastic custom of reciting three Hail Marys during the evening bell. The first written documentation stems from Italian Franciscan monk Sinigardi di Arezzo (died 1282). Franciscan monasteries in Italy document the use in 1263 and 1295. The Angelus is included in a Venetian Catechism from 1560. The older usages seem to have commemorated the resurrection of Christ in the morning, his suffering at noon and the annunciation in the evening.] In 1269, St Bonaventure urged the faithful to adopt the custom of the Franciscans of saying three Hail Marys as the evening bell was rung.
The Angelus is not identical to the “Turkish bell” ordered by Pope Calixtus III (1455–58) in 1456, who asked for a long midday bell ringing and prayer for protection against the Turkish invasions of his time. In his 1956 Apostolic Letter Dum Maerenti Animo about the persecution of the Catholic church in Eastern Europe and China, Pope Pius XII recalls the 500th anniversary of the “Turkish bell”, a prayer crusade ordered by his predecessors against what they considered to be dangers from the East. He again asks the faithful throughout the World, to pray for the persecuted Church in the East during the mid-day Angelus.
The custom of reciting it in the morning apparently grew from the monastic custom of saying three Hail Marys while a bell rang at Prime. The noon time custom apparently arose from the noon time commemoration of the Passion on Fridays. The institution of the Angelus is by some ascribed to Pope Urban II, by some to Pope John XXII for the year 1317. The triple recitation is ascribed to Louis XI of France, who in 1472 ordered it to be said three times daily. The form of the prayer was standardized by the 17th century.
The manner of ringing the Angelus—the triple stroke repeated three times, with a pause between each set of three (a total of nine strokes), sometimes followed by a longer peal as at curfew—seems to have been long established. The 15th-century constitutions of Syon monastery dictate that the lay brother “shall toll the Ave bell nine strokes at three times, keeping the space of one Pater and Ave between each three tollings”.[ The pattern of ringing on Irish radio and television consists of six groups of three peals, each group separated by a pause, for a total of eighteen rings.
In his Apostolic LetterMarialis Cultus (1974), Pope Paul VI encouraged the praying of the Angelus considering it important and a reminder to faithful Catholics of a paschal mystery, in which recalling the incarnation of the son of God they pray that they may be led “through his passion and cross to the glory of his resurrection.”