Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Message from the National Shrine: The Annunciation of the Lord

Each year on the Solemnity of the Annunciation, the Church commemorates the most important question ever asked. The answer to this one question would indeed change all creation. The Gospel of St. Luke recounts that the Angel Gabriel was sent to a young virgin named Mary to see if she would fulfill God’s plan and agree to be the Mother of the Savior. From all women this young girl had been chosen to bring the Savior into the world.

When the Angel Gabriel announced God’s plan to Mary, she said “Yes.” Her response, and the entrance of the Savior into the world, would forever be celebrated with great joy and thanksgiving.

The beauty of Mary’s “Yes” is that it was made with true love. Although Mary did not know all the details of this plan, nor all the joys and sorrows that would lie ahead, she did know this plan came from God. Therefore her response was to not simply cooperate, but to cooperate with unselfish love: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38).

Whatever God asked of her, Mary would do with complete trust and fidelity. With Mary’s “Yes”, we know that “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, a child came to be in her womb. This child, soon to be born in Bethlehem, would later stretch out his arms on the cross and free us from our sins. Today we celebrate the reality of the incarnation, and a child who came to give life all those who hope for salvation.

But Mary’s response to God’s plan did not end when the angel departed. Mary was the perfect disciple who remained always with her Son. The “Yes” given in faith to the angel was echoed each day in Mary’s words and deeds. In our daily prayers let us seek to follow Mary’s example of faith, that our lives may also echo each day our gratitude for the gift of the Savior. As Saint Augustine would write: Mary carried Him in her womb; let us carry Him in our hearts; she gave birth to the Savior; let us give birth to praise”.

We invite you also to share your prayer intentions with us at the National Shrine. Your intentions will be remembered at the many masses and devotions held at the Shrine throughout the Lenten and Easter seasons. If you would like to make a special Lenten Offering to the National Shrine, your gift would be greatly appreciated, especially during these difficult financial times. As you may know, the Basilica is not a parish church and receives no diocesan support. The Shrine depends entirely on the support of friends and Catholics such as you.

May God bless you richly during the Lent and Easter Seasons. As always, thank you for your prayerful support of the National Shrine. For a schedule of events and Masses during Lent and Easter, please visit our website at


*If you have never visited the National Shrine in Washington D.C., I suggest you plan a visit over the summer. Plan to spend the day at the shrine then be sure to tour the Franciscan Monastary, visit the John Paul II Cultural Center (for a bonus, World Over Live is broadcast from there on Fridays and you can be in the audience) and check out the Catholic University of America. Make it a long weekend! On our visit two summers ago, we had a wonderful time and cannot wait until we can return.

No comments: