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The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord normally falls on March 25, but since that date falls on the Monday of Holy Week this year, this feast is transferred to Monday, April 8. It is not a holy day of obligation to attend Mass. The Annunciation celebrates the coming of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary and announcing to her that she is to be the mother of the Savior.
On this feast, we switch to white vestments and pray the Gloria at the beginning of the Mass, both are symbols of the joy that accompanies the incarnation — Christ becoming human and choosing to be born as one of us. Even during the solemn penitential season of Lent, the Church acknowledges the coming of the Savior with hope and joy.
For Catholics, the theological importance of the annunciation is it’s marking of the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promises and preparations. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 484) "Mary’s assent to the angel’s announcement was the beginning of Christ’s incarnation; God’s coming into the world a fully human, born as we are born, with a grace-filled human mother." Consider praying this novena: "A Heart Open to God’s Will: The Annunciation" or this "Respect Life Action Guide: Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord."
This feast day also marks the anniversary of the papal encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" ("The Gospel of Life"). Written by St. John Paul II in 1995, this document on the value and inviolability of every human life remains an indispensable source of truth for all people. It reaffirms the “greatness and the inestimable value of human life” (EV 2) and addresses present-day legal, ethical and moral threats to life, including abortion, artificial reproduction techniques, contraception, capital punishment, euthanasia, sterilization and suicide.
This study guide was developed for use either with the “The Gospel of Life: Compendium” or with the full encyclical text. The study guide provides scriptural reflections, prayers, and discussion questions to help readers reflect more deeply on The Gospel of Life. While specifically designed to help facilitate small or large group studies, individuals can also use this tool on their own to increase their understanding of the text and make real-life connections.
The Annunciation is also the perfect occasion to offer the "Blessing of a Child in the Womb" for expectant parents at parishes. This blessing was crafted to support parents awaiting the birth of their child, to encourage parish prayers for — and recognition of — the precious gift of the child in the womb, and to foster respect for human life within society. It may be offered within the context of the Mass as well as outside of Mass.