Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary… During these last days leading up to Christmas the readings at Holy Mass and the Divine Office focus on the mystery of the Annunciation—the promise and fulfillment of the Virgin Birth, Our Lady’s exquisite “fiat”—all the marvelous stories that lead up to the proclamation of the Birth of our Savior. These days are so much about the Annunciation that the Mass of December 19th is often called the “Golden Mass”!
We are so familiar with the Gospel stories of the conception and birth of Jesus that we forget that in the early days of the Church huge battles of words (and a few fists as well) were fought over what it means that Jesus was conceived of the Virgin Mary. One need only to read the letters between St. Cyril of Alexandria and Nestorius to get a sense of the importance of the doctrine that Mary, the Theotokos (God-bearer) is the mother of Jesus who is both God and man.
The gift of Faith, which is an intellectual gift, enables us to respond to God who in the mystery of the Incarnation sort of turns everything upside down. In an amazing respect for our freedom God asks of us something which for our small minds is big—the ascent of the Truth of the Incarnation; but in the reality of the Truth itself He becomes Someone little…a helpless Infant who just like all of us began His human life in a tiny, tiny way in the womb of the Virgin Mary. With our biological knowledge of conception and birth this “humility” of the Word should make us even more captivated by His desire to make Himself so loveable to redeem us and bring us back to God!
-Sr. Mary Catharine, OP