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On the Archangel Gabriel entering Mary’s room to greet her

4 min • Digitized on March 22, 2022

#Angels #Mary

From The Life and Glories of St. Joseph, in file "The Life and Glories of St. Joseph", page 168
By Edward Healy Thompson, M.A.

The angel was to present himself in a visible human form, because, as St. Thomas says, he came to announce the advent of that God who, in Himself invisible, was about to become visible in human flesh; and he was also to assume a specially beautiful and majestic appearance, as befitted such a messenger and such a message. The Angel Gabriel came, says St. Augustine, all radiant in his countenance, glorious in his apparel, admirable in his bearing.

That the movement of the angel was such as is proper to bodies seems to be signified by the Evangelist when he says, not that he appeared to Mary, but that he “came in” unto her, that is, entered the house and the room where she was, which was instantly flooded with light.

The Virgin was suddenly roused from her ecstasy by this blaze of glory, but, if startled, she was not alarmed.1 The visits of angels were not new to her, and a pious Oriental tradition asserts that she had even seen Gabriel himself once before near the fountain of Nazareth. The magnificence, however, of his attire, the majesty of his aspect, and the impressive grandeur of his ingress may well have filled her with peculiar awe and veneration.

She was about to make him a profound obeisance when he presented her with his own reverential salutation, as to his lady and queen. For times were henceforward changed, and men were no longer to adore the angels after the manner of the people of God under the Old Testament, which was “ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator”.2

The Apostle also calls it “the word spoken by angels,” and adds that “God hath not subjected unto angels the world to come,” signifying thereby the kingdom of Christ.3 The angels, in fact, under the Old Law, before the Incarnation, not only acted the part of messengers from God to men, but not unfrequently personated Him and spoke in His Name. Hence we find them receiving on these occasions a vicarious adoration directed to God.4

But when human nature was united to God Himself in the Person of the Word men were no longer to be under the ministerial rule of the angels, but were to be their companions and brethren,5 and Mary was to be their queen as well as ours.

1 In the Office of the Annunciation it is said, Expavescit Virgo de lumine; but this need mean no more than that she was startled and astonished.

2 Gal. iii. 19.

3 Heb. ii. 2, 5.

4 Numerous instances in proof of this might be cited: e.g., Gen. xxxii. 28, 30, where the “man,” or, as Osee calls him (xii. 4), the “angel,” who wrestled with Jacob, says, “If thou hast been strong against God,” &c.; and Jacob himself called the name of the place Phanuel, saying, “I have seen God face to face, and my soul has been saved”; also Judges xiii. 22, where Manue says to his wife after the angel’s visit, “We shall certainly die, because we have seen God”; and, in particular, Gen. xviii. 17-33, where the angel who remained to speak with Abraham is repeatedly called “the Lord”.

5 This is the reason given by the angel in the Apocalypse (xxii. 9), for refusing the homage which St. John the Evangelist would have paid him, and may serve to explain the angel’s disclaimer, which heretics have availed themselves to deny the lawfulness the honour rendered by Catholics to these spirits of Heaven.

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