Blessed Be the Glorious Moment, the “Fiat” of the Incarnation, March 25

Catholic News Service reports: The feast of the Annunciation, March 25, has been recognized in Lebanon as a national holiday, and one of its most vigorous promoters is a Muslim.

Sheik Mohammed Nokkari, who teaches in the faculty of law and at the Institute of Islamic-Christian Studies at St. Joseph University in Beirut, told Catholic News Service Mary is “the best woman ever, here (on earth) and in eternity. She’s above all women.”

Although Sheik Nokkari had long participated in Muslim-Christian dialogue and had lectured extensively on the issue, “I felt something in my heart telling me that Mary is the one who is going to unite us,” he said. Read full article here.

From the seventh century (earlier in the East) and into the twentieth the feast of the Annunciation, or the Incarnation of the Lord, was celebrated East and West as a Holy Day of Obligation for the Universal Church. Over the centuries regional synods would add their own patron saints to the list (Patrick in Ireland, James the Greater in Spain) so that eventually, by 1911, there was a total of thirty-six holy days of obligation all together in the Latin Church. Each country’s synod of bishops had always been allowed, traditionally, and even still, to establish its own holy days of obligation. Eleven of these most important and common feasts were considered Holy Days by Rome for the whole Church. By Motu Proprio, in 1911, Saint Pope Pius X, reduced the days of obligation for the Universal Catholic Church to eight. Pope Benedict XV, however, when approving the 1917 Code of Canon Law, brought the total back up to ten. These were the ten:

  • 1 January: Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • 6 January: the Epiphany
  • 19 March: Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Thursday of the sixth week of Easter: the Ascension
  • Thursday after Trinity Sunday: the Body and Blood of Christ
  • 29 June: Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
  • 15 August: the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • 1 November: All Saints
  • 8 December: the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • 25 December: the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ (Christmas)

The Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, one of the traditional eleven holy days for the Universal Church, was not restored. It was reduced as well in the United States where, up until the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore (1884), it had been a holy day of obligation. That council reduced the number of the holy days to six, as it still stands today. Such is the case in other countries in the West as well. I haven’t been able to find one country in the western Catholic Church that still has March 25 as a holy day of obligation. I do not know the reason for this, because the reduction of the feast is not at all liturgical; it ranks as a Double of the First Class, which is a higher than that of January 1, which is a Double of the Second Class.

Some refer to our glorious day today as the “Feast of the Fiat,” thus honoring Mother and Son together, with one magnificent word. The Annunciation becomes one with the Incarnation at the moment of Mary’s “Let it Be Done.”

Other events traditionally and most suitably dated for March 25 are the Creation of Adam and Eve, the Fall of Adam and Eve, the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham, and the Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord (the Day of Redemption).