Beauty surrounds the Feast of the Annunciation

Paolo_de_Matteis_-_The_AnnunciationThe Feast of the Annunciation is a beloved feast day for it is the day we rejoice in Mary’s YES!  It only stands to reason that we and the Church rejoice as it is the day that the “Word was made Flesh!”  There was a very dear priest in our diocese, one of those rare individuals who inspired countless people with his unwavering trust in Divine Providence…even in the most difficult and trying situations he reminded us to trust. He loved the Blessed Mother and like her was transformed by his YES to a life in service to God and in turn transformed all of us!  Everyone prayed that he would live to celebrate his 100th birthday, but he actually died just a few short hours of the day. However, nine months earlier he would cheerfully and enthusiastically remind all of us that indeed he was already 100 years old since he counted his age from the time of his conception in his mother’s womb. What a testimony to all of us as to the sanctity of life in the womb, the unborn! Today is no ordinary day but a great day to pause from our day to day routines and take time to celebrate this momentous event in all our lives!

“In families with young children, this feast would be a good time to begin teaching youngsters important lessons about the inestimable value God places on human life. 

Mary with baby JesusFirst, that He loved us so much that He chose to become one of us — to take on our humanity so completely that he “became flesh”, as utterly weak and dependent as any human infant is.   Second, God became “like us in all things except sin” at the moment of His conception in Mary’s womb, not at some later time.  The Feast of the Annunciation is a celebration of the actual Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

Children may, quite naturally, think that the birth of Jesus is the time when Our Savior first ‘became Man,’ especially since Christmas has become the Christian holiday in our culture.  We understand best what we can see, what is visible.  The invisible, the hidden is, no less real for our lack of seeing it.  (We think of the baby in its mother’s womb, known and felt, though unseen, only to her.)

Even very young children can know the truth about the growth of a baby inside its mother’s body, especially If the mother of the family (or an aunt, perhaps) happens to be pregnant on the holiday.  The exactly nine months’ wait from March 25th to December 25th for the Baby to be born would be interesting to most children.  (God made no special rules for His own bodily development!) What better way than reading the first chapter of Luke to gently begin teaching children about the beginning of each new human life?

Children should be told how important it is to every person that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1), and parents can find this feast a valuable teaching moment. 

teaching-youth-religious-values.jpg.crop_displayThe Catechism of the Catholic Church on Article 3 of the Creed, “He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and was born of the Virgin Mary” (#436-511), should be read by parents.  This will not only give adults a timely review of Catholic doctrine, but it can be a great help to us in transmitting important truths of the faith to our children.  The summary at the end can help formulate points we want to emphasize. Excerpts from the Catechism  could be read aloud to older children.” (http://www.ewtn.com/library/FAMILY/MARCH25.TXT)

In hope of inspiring you to pause from your regular curriculum may I suggest the following:

You can begin with the prayers associated with Mary and her Fiat, the Angelus, the Magnificat  and an Annunciation prayer too! (http://www.marypages.com/Annunciation.htm).  Over the centuries these same prayers inspired lovely Classical  pieces of music.  As I started to research them, I had no idea of the veritable wealth of music giving Glory to unborn Christ Child. Do plan on spending your quiet time today listening to this beautiful music and hear the joy!

William-Adolphe_Bouguereau_(1825-1905)_-_Song_of_the_Angels_(1881)_edit

The Magnificat, Canticle of Mary, Song of Mary, Latin Hymn, Daughters of Mary:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9QtEb8XNr4

Bach – Magnificat in D major, BWV 243 : Harnoncourthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oL_qsKPeik

Antonio Vivaldi – Magnificat in G Minor RV  610:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDQREd7Ahys

MOZART Vesperae de Dominica, KV 321 – [6] Magnificat KOOPMAN:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuOT1LMFIQA

Franz Schubert – Magnificat in C major, D486:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itQNbtXXhzE

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou can also see that this momentous event also inspired much artwork. Three years ago Larry and I found a gorgeous rendition of the Annunciation by the artist Jan Van Eyck on our 25th Wedding Anniversary, or should I say it found us, as a reminder of our YES to each other and to God. It is currently at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, a trip we will have to make soon to see the original! Today you can explore the work here where you can take a closer look and explore its symbolism: http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/Collection/art-object-page.46.html?opensection=overview

And that is not the only image of the Annunciation, visit these sites to gaze at all the beauty. The following sites have a multitude of beautiful Classical artwork to share with your family:

http://www.abcgallery.com/L/leonardo/leonardo36.html (Leonardo Da Vinci The Annunciation.  Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy)

http://www.abcgallery.com/B/botticelli/botticelli34.html (Sandro Boticelli Cestello Annunciation Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy)

http://www.abcgallery.com/virgin.html#Annunciation (many other masterpieces)

For your younger set I found several coloring pages that you can print whereby they grant copyright permission  to print and use any original material or ideas for individual or classroom use.

Crayones de cera

Coloring pages:

This site has about 10 different images to choose from different sources: http://printablecolouringpages.co.uk/?s=the+annunciation

This one comes to us compliments from the parish church in Front Royal Virginia St. John the Baptist Catholic Church where we just went last weekend! http://www.sjtb.org/images/Annunciation.pdf

Here is a simple outline coloring page for the littlest ones:http://www.sermons4kids.com/mary_angel_colorpg.htm

For a bit of fun here are pictures that the kids can color on-line, changing the colors and printing off the version they like best! : http://www.supercoloring.com/pages/annunciation

http://www.thecolor.com/Coloring/simone-martini-the-annunciation.aspx

Be certain to end the day with a delicious meal or special dessert.  My favorite cookbook, A Continual Feast has a Swedish Waffles recipe where the author explains that in Europe beginning around the twelfth century waffles were generally eaten on feast days and most certainly on the Feast of the Annunciation. You can use your own special recipe or this one:

Swedish Waffles (A Continual Feast by Evelyn Birge Vitz)

swedish waffles

1 3/4 cups heavy cream, well-chilled
1 1/3 cups flour
1-2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup cold water
3 tablespoons melted sweet butter

Whip the cream until stiff.  Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the water to make a smooth batter. Fold the whipped cream into the batter. Stir in the melted butter.

Heat the waffle iron. (If it is well seasoned, it will not need to be greased.) Fill the grid surface about two-thirds full of batter. Bake until golden brown.

Place on a rack to keep crisp while you make the rest of the waffles.

Yield: about 8 waffles