Joy of Mary: The Annunciation

An Announcement of Renouncement; Sanctity, Surrender, and a Little Bit of Skepticism
By Gretchen Erlichman

“’Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.’” ~ Luke 1:38

Annunciation, Fra Angelico

The Annunciation is one of the most profound mysteries of our faith. Yet, as we ponder in awe at this beautiful doctrine, we may consider that even the Blessed Mother was filled with wonderment at the mystery of her virginal motherhood. Mary was chosen by God to be His mother; she was immaculately conceived and was sanctified by the gift of grace bestowed on her by the Holy Spirit. At the Annunciation, the angel Gabriel greeted her with respect for her sanctified predilection and announced her miraculous maternity: “‘Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you’…you will conceive in your womb and bear a son…He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High.” (Luke 1:28-32) Upon hearing these words, even the Blessed Mother herself could not help but humbly question this mysterious truth: “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” (Luke 1:34) This is not a question of doubt, like that of Zechariah, but a question of understanding the power of God, a clarifying inquiry into her already strong belief in His almighty power. She was concerned, confused, and probably frightened at the thought of bearing a child with seemingly no explanation. In response, Gabriel simply replied: “‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you…for nothing is impossible with God.’” (Luke 1:35-37) And at this, Mary replied with total and utter surrender: “‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.’” (Luke 1:38)

How was Mary able to respond with such swift sincerity and joyful submission? How did she so meekly conform her intentions and calmly avert her skeptical fears? Yes, she had received immeasurable graces from God to be His mother, but she also surrendered her will to the workings of the grace of the Holy Spirit, by which she committed a beautiful and selfless act of faith. It was by this faith that she entered into the mystery of her divine motherhood. So too, it is by an act of faith that each of us can enter into the mysteries of our faith. St. John Chrysostom speaks to this necessity of faith: “We know this is a mystery through faith, not one that can be studied in various ways. We venerate the mystery, not a joining together. We theologize a mystery, not a study. We confess a mystery, we do not count it.” (St. John Chrysostom, Homily on the Annunciation) Therefore, in our efforts to be ever more like the Blessed Mother in our conformity to God’s will, let us pray to the Holy Spirit that He may grant us the gift of faith. Let us implore the Lord for the faith necessary to renounce our own will and open our hearts to the announcement of His love; for in setting aside our skepticism and self-interest, we may receive the grace to enter into a sanctified life of surrender and, in joyful submission, our souls will sing and our ‘spirits will rejoice in God, our Savior.’ (cf. Luke 1:47)


Sorrow of Mary: The Prophesy of Simeon

“And You Yourself a Sword Will Pierce”
By Patrick Kelly

“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” ~John 3:16

The Presentation in the Temple, Fra Angelico

Our Lady’s first sorrow comes from the Prophecy of Simeon which occurred forty days after Our Lord’s birth. Mary and Joseph had brought Jesus to be presented to the Lord in the temple, as was the custom. Saint Luke’s Gospel tells us that while the Holy Family was in the temple, Simeon identifies Jesus as the Messiah. Simeon then says to Mary: “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35)

Nobody likes to see or experience suffering. Moreover, nobody likes to be told that they are going to suffer. However, we as Christians know all too well that suffering goes hand in hand with love. This comes directly from God the Father, who sent His only begotten Son into the world in order to redeem the world: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16) In order to redeem the world, the Son suffered the intense physical agony and pain of dying on the Cross. The anguish of Our Lord’s Passion, precedes His triumph over death.

When we are faced with any kind of suffering, how are we to respond? Let us look to Our Lady, who listens and trusts in the Lord while uniting her sufferings to those of her Son, who renews all things.


About the Series:

These past few months have surely been filled with many unexpected difficulties and challenges, yet there were probably also many little blessings and surprising gifts as well…maybe even ones that were hard to see at first. Human life is full of joys and sorrows; so too was the beautiful life of the Blessed Mother, who was entirely conformed to the will of God from the moment of her conception. The joys and sorrows of her life form the jewels of her heavenly crown and, at this very moment, she sits beside her Son on the throne of Heaven and intercedes for us.

Now, more than ever, we are called to unite our happiness and our suffering to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In doing so, she gently leads us to the merciful Heart of Our Lord and the ineffable love of the Trinity. Please join us this summer as we contemplate the joys and sorrows of the heart of Mary in our series, The Coronation of Love; The Joys and Sorrows of Mary. Each week, we will explore a paired joy and sorrow of Mary which will help us to further unite our pondering hearts to that of the Blessed Virgin. We look forward to praying through these mysteries of our faith with you. God bless!

In the Peace and Love of Christ, 
Gretchen, Thomas, Victoria & Patrick


About Us:

Gretchen Erlichman

Hi! My name is Gretchen Erlichman, and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of Our Lady of Grace in North Guilford, Connecticut. I am a native of upstate New York, but I am currently residing in Silver Spring, Maryland. I am in my second 6-month fundraising period with the Labouré Society, in which I hope to mitigate my student loans and enter into religious formation. Watch My Video   Read My Story  Donate   Contact

Patrick Kelly

Hi! My name is Patrick Kelly, and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph (Eastern Province). I grew up and live in Virginia. I am in my second 6-month fundraising period with the Laboure Society. I am hoping to mitigate my student loan debt in time to enter the Novitiate next summer.
Watch My Video   Read My Story   Donate   Contact  

Victoria Clarizio

Hi! My name is Victoria Clarizio and I am an aspirant with the Passionist Nuns of the Monastery of Our Lady of Sorrows in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I am from Connecticut and live there currently. As an aspirant with the Laboure Society, I hope to remove the obstacle of student debt so that my classmates and I can enter formation.
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Thomas Conroy

Hi my name is Thomas Conroy, and I am an aspirant with the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph (Eastern Province). I was born and mostly raised in Northern Virginia. I graduated from Mount St. Mary’s University in 2019. I am in my second 6 month fundraising period with the Labouré Society. I am hoping to have my student debt mitigated and enter formation next summer. Video  Story  Donate   Contact 




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