March 25 is the day the Church celebrates the Annunciation, when the Archangel Gabriel told Mary about her forthcoming conception and birth of the Messiah. It is recorded in Luke 1:26-38. It is an account filled with wonder set exactly 9 months before Christmas Day. Some say that she conceived the moment of the announcement. This year, 2022, Pope Francis will consecrate the Ukraine and Russia to the Mary, as asked for during the apparitions at Fatima. This is an announcement and request for Mary’s intercession and intervention which takes on more importance because of this special feast day. To make a proclamation such as this is in the tradition of the Gospel of Luke.
The word comes from from Latin annuntiationem noun of action from past-participle stem of annuntiare "announce, relate" In Old French anonciacion means "announcement, news; Feast of the Annunciation", as here the word is becoming associated with the angelic action. Later, it is from Anglo-French anunciacioun. In the early 14th century, the feast became the definition of the word and acquired the meaning of "Lady-day, Church festival commemorating announcement of the incarnation of Christ,". General sense of "an announcing" is from 1560s. The Church festival (March 25) commemorates the visit of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, foretelling the incarnation. Old English for "Annunciation Day" and was called bodungdæg.
The consecration of the Ukraine and Russia seems to stand against the impossible, as the angelic words seemed to the young Mary. To convey this dramatic intervention, Luke uses a literary style that is grounded in the theological and cultural history of Israel. He uses, what scholars call, a “Child of Promise” format. This format was made famous by the accounts of Isaac (Genesis 21:1-7), Samson (Judges 13:5), and John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-25). The form of the story has four main elements;
1) Oppression from a powerful enemy
2) A childless person or couple
3) An announcement from a Divine being about a forthcoming child
4) An impossible condition to be overcome
5) The fulfillment of the announcement, or promise, with the birth and naming of the child.
This is rich tradition that is culminated in the person of Mary. As with the strong women before her, she had a powerful faithful response to the words of Gabriel. Unlike the other, preceding, women Mary was a virgin. Therefore, she asked how this would occur. The angel spoke of the Holy Spirit coming to Mary which would make her a charismatic figure in the tradition of Old Testament leaders, such as some of the Judges. Mary was well aware of the importance of the Holy Spirit, or Spirit of the Lord, in Israel’s history. These men rose to leadership positions. Mary was to do the same thing. Perhaps more importantly, the angel says, according to the Greek text, “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Mary had to perfect faithful response; “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
Mary, about sixteen years old at the time of the announcement, provides an exemplary response that should resound and resonate through the ages. It gives us an example for when God may announce something to any one of us, regardless of the method of announcement, as to how we should respond. The Pope, seemingly, feels called to make this consecration. May the Pope’s words echo the power of Mary’s response.