…the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her:
“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.”
Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her:
“Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High…”
And Mary said to the angel:
“How shall this be done, because I know not man?”
And the angel answering, said to her:
“The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God…”
And Mary said:
“Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.”
(The Gospel of Luke 1, Douay-Rheims Version)
These words will resound forever, notably the astonishing “Hail full of grace” (Latin Ave gratia plena) and the humble response of the Maid “Be it done to me” (Latin fiat mihi). This agreement between God and Man led to the event of events, as said in the Creed: He “by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man” (Latin Et incarnatus est… et homo factus est“).
Today during the Feast of the Annunciation we saw the Holy Father consecrate our whole human race, and especially Russia and the Ukraine, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is said that Mary herself requested that this be done, in an appearance to the children of Fatima in 1917. Today many of us have witnessed this and participated in it, by means of the internet, a thing unthinkable in the world of 1917:
There’s a lot going on here, and it can be confusing. You might find (as I did) that this news outlet does a good job organizing the story:
During a solemn ceremony in St. Peter’s in Rome, the Holy Father prayed before an image of our Lady of Fatima. Here are some of his words:
O Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, in this time of trial we turn to you. As our Mother, you love us and know us: no concern of our hearts is hidden from you. Mother of mercy, how often we have experienced your watchful care and your peaceful presence! You never cease to guide us to Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
Yet we have strayed from that path of peace. We have forgotten the lesson learned from the tragedies of the last century, the sacrifice of the millions who fell in two world wars. We have disregarded the commitments we made as a community of nations. We have betrayed peoples’ dreams of peace and the hopes of the young…
Holy Mother, amid the misery of our sinfulness, amid our struggles and weaknesses, amid the mystery of iniquity that is evil and war, you remind us that God never abandons us, but continues to look upon us with love, ever ready to forgive us and raise us up to new life.
…At this hour, a weary and distraught humanity stands with you beneath the cross, needing to entrust itself to you and, through you, to consecrate itself to Christ. The people of Ukraine and Russia, who venerate you with great love, now turn to you, even as your heart beats with compassion for them and for all those peoples decimated by war, hunger, injustice and poverty.
Therefore, Mother of God and our Mother, to your Immaculate Heart we solemnly entrust and consecrate ourselves, the Church and all humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine. Accept this act that we carry out with confidence and love. Grant that war may end and peace spread throughout the world. The “Fiat” that arose from your heart opened the doors of history to the Prince of Peace. We trust that, through your heart, peace will dawn once more. To you we consecrate the future of the whole human family, the needs and expectations of every people, the anxieties and hopes of the world…
The full prayer is here:
And for reference, here is part of the request for a prayer like this from Our Lady in 1917 as reported; it includes a promise of eventual triumph:
I shall come to ask for the Consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.
However we might choose to receive the Fatima appearances and messages, it is wholesome for all of us to devote ourselves today, and every day, to our Lord Jesus and, in filial devotion, to Our Lady, who is His mother and our queen and mother. The Fatima message calls us to rekindle devotion to prayer, to penance, and to reparation. Today’s world events also call us to the same rekindling.
Today the Holy Father, in his homily before the prayer of consecration, said that the Angel Gabriel made three statements to Mary which are also made to us in Christ: “The Lord is with you”, “Do not be afraid”, and “the Holy Spirit will come upon you”. God is with us, even now.
Let us not be afraid, even in these violent times. The Holy Spirit will come to us, even in our sufferings. We may well say amen to all of that! I hope the prayers of our Lady and the saints, and the power of the Holy Spirit, will enable us also to say “Behold the servants of God: Be it done to us according to God’s word.”
One of the loveliest of Marian hymns is the very short Ave Regina Caelorum, which we are often singing this Lent. After several tries, we have made a useful English translation of it, to be sung to the Latin melody. It took several tries partly because the Latin meter and melody is irregular, and it is difficult to bring about a marriage between the music and an English text that is both beautiful and accurate. Also, the Latin is dense, not only with powerful images, but also with rhymes and word-play. Not all of it could come through directly in the English, but some of it does. You be the judge of how well we did!
The words are below.
A blessed Feast of the Annunciation! Our Lady Mother, we consecrate ourselves to your Immaculate Heart!
Ave, Regina caelorum, Ave, Domina angelorum, Salve, radix, salve, porta, Ex qua mundo lux est orta. Hail to thee Queen of the heavens! Hail Our Lady Ruler of angels! Long live the root and the portal, Whereby earthly Light is risen. Gaude, Virgo gloriosa, Super omnes speciosa; Vale, O valde decora, Et pro nobis Christum exora. Rejoice, Maiden great in glory, Over others bright and lovely: Farewell, O Foremost in beauty, And for us give Christ thine entreaty.
4/06 update: In an updated version “entreaty” replaced “pleading”, and “thou Lady” has changed to “Our Lady”.
translations copyright ©2022 John R. Rose under CC BY-SA 4.0