Why the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25
A few days ago, in a general audience, Pope Francis has invited Catholics to renew an act of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25 as he recalled his historic act of consecrating Russia and Ukraine to Mary at St. Peter’s Basilica exactly one year ago.
Why on March 25 or the feast of the annunciation? From childhood, all our attention has been centered on the womb of Mary, so much so that, while the First Christmas is focused on the CHILD coming out of the womb (Nativity), New Year, the Solemnity of Mary’s Theotokos, in the Catholic calendar, is focused on the MOTHER, in Mary’s womb.
In our consecration to Mary the Mother on March 25, we are asking Jesus the Son something beautiful for the world, peace, and we ask it through Mary, ad Jesum per Mariam.
We are used to celebrating the birth of the historical JESUS, the First Christmas, as the greatest story ever told, but the Incarnation goes back nine months before the First Christmas. The occasion is called the Annunciation, when the Angel of the Lord declared, or announced, unto Mary (then a teenager), and “she was conceived by the Holy Spirit.” The Annunciation commemorates the Incarnation of the Son of God, the Word made Flesh
To Mary, we give the highest possible tribute called hyperdulia in Greek. We love and dearly respect her, for after all “Mother Mary is the only person who carried Jesus for nine months in her womb (March 25 to December 25), one or two years in her arms, and forever in her heart. The role of Mary the Mother in Jesus the Son’s life is revealed in the Catholic calendar as follows:
December 8 – Mary was immaculately conceived by St. Ann;
September 8 – Mary was born exactly nine months after;
March 25 – Jesus was conceived by Mary without a biological father;
December 25 – Jesus was born exactly nine months after.
We believe that we are redeemed by the passion, death and resurrection of the Son. How can there be an expiatory sacrifice without a victim? How can there be death without flesh to be nailed and blood to be poured out? If Mary, the divinely appointed Theotokos, the Mother of God, gave us the Saving Victim to be crucified, it is just inconceivable to talk of Salvation History, particularly the Paschal Mystery, without including the divinely designed role of Mary.
The prayer of The Angelus is the prayer of the Annunciation. Being prayed at 12 noon in more than 89 SM malls across the Philippines, The Angelus reminds us of the fact that God’s eternal Word (Verbum Dei), Creator and Redeemer, through whom all things were made, was Himself made “flesh,” becoming a true son of Eve and a legit member of the Homo Sapiens (John 1:14).
In our Christian belief, Jesus is the epiphany of the invisible Triune God (the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit) and, at the same time, the epiphany of the human person, where epiphany means “a perfect manifestation of” God and man.
We believe that the historical Jesus Christ born in Bethlehem some 2,000 years ago – as the absolute image of God – has the being (homoousious in Greek) of the Godhead that makes him similar and equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. But the historical Jesus is not only the perfect manifestation of the invisible God but also the undamaged manifestation of the human person, the earthly homo sapiens.
Given this theological premise behind March 25, several popes have consecrated the Church and world to Mary, with the Venerable Pope Pius XII doing it in 1942 and St. John Paul II did it three times during his pontificate.
On March 25 in the Catholic calendar, we commemorate Jesus our Savior assuming a human body and soul same as yours and mine, a language and a culture same as those of any other Jew. Our consecration to Mary, who was conceived without Original Sin, will lead us back to the time when our first parents sinned, and sinned grievously, when our ancestors fell, and fell crushingly (Genesis 4:1-16).
Yet, humanity has the absolute right to be preserved in order to give Jesus the Son the rarest chance to become a part of it.
Our world, deluged by wars today, was deluged by massive floods during Noah’s time. But our world deserves to continue to exist if only to offer the Incarnate Son of God the occasion to walk on it, to dwell in our midst, and sanctify “the theatre of human history.” “And the Word was made Flesh (John 1:14) so that humankind can see Him face-to-face, hear Him speak, be touched by Him, and be healed in body and soul.
We cannot expect that the March 25 consecration to Mary will stop the Russian- Ukraine overnight. But we cannot also underestimate the miraculous power of the pope’s public consecration to Mary, in union with all bishops and the faithful. Remember that after St. Pope John Paul II led the act of consecration in 1984, the Soviet Union was dissolved and the Cold War ended in 1989, events seemingly impossible in 1984.
A consecration is a form of a prayer asking for peace in the world. The Vatican’s Dicastery for Divine Worship defines consecration to Mary as a humble petition in recognition of the “singular role of Mary in the mystery of Christ… and of the efficacy of her patronage (or intercession)”
On March 25, we salute thee, dear Mother of God, in the words of Elizabeth, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus” (Luke 1:39ff).
Dr. José Mario Bautista Maximiano is the author of Church Reforms – Semper Purificanda: Volume One (Claretian, 2023) and the author of MCMLXXII: 500-Taong Kristiyano (Claretian, 2021), Volume Two, declared the “Best Book in Ministry” during the 16th Cardinal Sin Catholic Book Awards 2022.