By Father Pablo Santa Maria
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’, which means, ‘God is with us.”
“Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son was made known by the message of an Angel, may by his Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of his Resurrection. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”
The Collect or Opening Prayer of this Sunday’s Mass so well known to all of us as the concluding prayer of the Angelus, summarizes the purpose of our faith.
It can be very perplexing to many of us why Christ decided to be born of a Virgin. Why is it that in the fullness of time an Angel came down from the great Throne of Light to a Virgin kneeling in prayer to ask her if she was willing to give God a human nature? Was it because God, despite his omniscient power needed a human to redeem us? Why did he appear to Mary? What made Her worthy to be the one chosen to be the Mother of God? Did God really have to become human to save us?
The Angel’s proclamation to Mary is the beginning of the greatest event in history. When Mary accepted her mission and responded from the depths of her heart: “Here I am… let it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1: 38) With her fiat the eternal Word began to exist as a human being in time.
Our Catholic faith is founded on the basis that the Incarnation is a historical fact; that God became man so that we may become divine and to restore to us what was lost with Adam’s ‘no’ and the first sin. Mary’s ‘yes’ reversed Adam’s ‘no’ and profoundly changed the future of our world.
But this may all still remain perplexing; why does God need all this? Why does he need to bother with all this? Because God wants closeness with us; He wants to be intimately united with us.
In the midst of our very busy lives, especially during this pre-Christmas season, when we often get overwhelmed with visits to friends and family, Christmas parties and shopping, it is very easy to get caught up and forget the reason for the season. To forget the purpose of the incarnation: God entered the world not only to save us, but to be close to us.
A great practice that can help us remember this is to recite the Angelus at noon, or any time when we need to quiet our minds and hearts. This prayer is especially powerful when we are busy. It reminds us that even in the midst of our hectic lives God enters the world, even now, and He wants to be close to us and to love us.
The Angelus Prayer
V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary,
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to Your Word.
V. And the Word was made flesh,
R. And dwelt among us.
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.