In the midst of Lent, solemnities are most welcome, and here in Ireland, all in the space of a week and a half, we have three: St Patrick, St Joseph and the Annunciation of the Lord. One might ask how can a body do any fasting in the middle of Lent with all these feast days popping up? Well that's just the hard task of being Catholic - we fast, we feast and sometimes we feast in the fast; isn't it great?!
Today's solemnity is, after Easter and Christmas, a most momentous one: the feast of the Incarnation of the Lord in the womb of the Virgin Mary. On this day we mark that most mysterious event when the Word was made flesh. This feast is bridged to Christmas and begins, for us Christians, a nine month programme of prayer and reflection on God's becoming man as part of his plan to redeem us. Today, we might say, a great novena to Our Lady of Expectation may well begin. There would be no Christmas without the Annunciation.
This feast brings us to reflect on many things: the fulfillment of God's promise to his people; the willing participation of Our Lady in God's plan of salvation; and of course the wonderful mystery of the Second Person of the Trinity, the Son, the Word, being conceived in a human womb and growing there for nine months before being born. For this reason we can regard today's feast as a pro-life feast, one which reminds all Christians that they must be pro-life. To be pro-abortion and Christian is not only contradictory, but almost heretical for to deny that a unique human being exists at the moment of conception is to deny that God became man in the womb of Our Lady at his conception: that at the first stages of life the embryo was not human and not God.
Today, then, we can celebrate life - the Incarnation of the Lord of life in the womb of Our Lady, and the beauty of life in the womb sanctified by the Word's becoming flesh, transforming humanity by his entering into it. Let us pray, then, for the cause of life; for the unborn; for expectant mothers; for women contemplating abortion; for women who have aborted their children so they may find reconciliation and healing.
Happy feast day!