The materials listed below are for use at faith-oriented events--church and prayer services, vigils, and related gatherings. For educational materials including prayer cards also see Further Reading and Instructional Materials and the Links page. Topics and ideas for March 25 related sermons and prayer/worship services can also be found in the samples from sermons and commentaries in various faith traditions included in the An Ecumenical Celebration page.
Lutheran--(Bulletin Insert, Sample Sermon, Worship Service, and other materials)
Roman Catholic--(1994 Catechism, Annunciation Church/School Program, Novena, Rite for Blessing, KofC & Priests For Life Materials)
But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zachary, for thy petition has been heard, and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great before the Lord; he shall drink no wine or strong drink, AND SHALL BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT EVEN FROM HIS MOTHER’S WOMB.
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And when the angel had come to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.” When she had heard him she was troubled at his word, and kept pondering what manner of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for thou hast found favor 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 the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he shall be king over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How shall this happen, since I do not know man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “THE HOLY SPIRIT SHALL COME UPON THEE AND THE POWER OF THE MOST HIGH SHALL OVERSHADOW THEE; AND THEREFORE THE HOLY ONE TO BE BORN SHALL BE CALLED THE SON OF GOD. And behold, Elizabeth thy kinswoman also has conceived a son in her old age, and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month; for nothing shall be impossible with God.” But Mary said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.” And the angel departed from her.
Now in those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town of Juda. And she entered the house of Zachary and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass, WHEN ELIZABETH HEARD THE GREETING OF MARY, THAT THE BABE IN HER WOMB LEAPT. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb! And how have I deserved THAT THE MOTHER OF MY LORD should come to me? For behold, the moment that the sound of thy greeting come to my ears, THE BABE IN MY WOMB LEAPT FOR JOY.”
[Note: New Testament quotations are from the Confraternity Edition (A Revision of the Challoner-Rheims Version Edited by Catholic Scholars under the Patronage of the Episcopal Committee of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine), 1957, N.Y.: Catholic Book Pub. Co.]
The Angelus is a devotion in memory of the Incarnation, and the wording of the prayer specifically mentions Christ's conception. As such it is ideal for private or public prayer on the Annunciation feast date. The full text can be read at http://www.saintmarysmiddlesboro.org/the-angelus.html. Wording can vary slightly between different versions, but the prayer makes it clear that the appearance of the angel, Mary’s consent, and the conception by the Holy Spirit are understood together as part of the same event in which “the Word was made flesh.” A standard prayer in Roman Catholic devotional guides, the Angelus also appears in the popular 20th-century Anglo-Catholic collections--"Saint Augustine's Prayer Book: A Book of Devotion for members of the Episcopal Church" (1947, Rev. 1967), and "The Practice of Religion: A Short Manual of Instructions and Devotions" by Archibald Campbell Knowles (1st published in 1908) which refers to the Angelus as "the memorial of the Incarnation."
Individuals or groups may recite or sing the Angelus -- there is also a chant version. Some Anglican/Episcopalian Churches ring the Angelus bells--usually at noon as a call to prayer, sometimes at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. as well.) For gatherings where a longer period of prayer is desired, there is also an Anglican version of the Rosary (4 groups of seven beads) based on the Angelus. Read the Anglican Rosary prayers here -- http://anglicanrosary.wordpress.com/exemplars/midday-prayers/ -- and find instructions on how to make an Anglican Rosary at this link: http://www.stmatthewsbrecksville.org/resources/anglican-prayer-beads?showall=1
The following is the standard text of the Angelus:
V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived by the Holy Spirit. [Recite the Hail Mary]
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to Thy word. [Recite the Hail Mary]
V. And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us. [Recite the Hail Mary]
V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Annunciation materials intended for a Lutheran congregation can be found at CPH.org -- click here for the Annunciation search page -- most relevant items will display first (visual materials like an Annunciation poster and print have also been offered in the past).
Most LFL materials are listed at their Annunciation webpage available year round at www.lutheransforlife.org/store-the-annunciation which features several downloads plus the following text: "The Annunciation of Our Lord - March 25 ~ The path to the cross did not begin in Bethlehem but in Nazareth! March 25 is the most appropriate time to celebrate the Incarnation. God became man at Jesus’ conception in Mary. To assist pastors and congregations in observing the Annunciation of our Lord--and to teach the great value God in Christ places on all human life--these resources are available:" The downloads offered via their Annunciation page are: a worship service for "The Annunciation of Our Lord" in Word and PDF, and the Annunciation sermon "Pregnant with God," plus a link to an article "The Annunciation and Abortion" which has download links to print copies yourself and an ordering link to buy printed copies.
Here are detailed descriptions (plus alternate direct links) for the materials at LFL's year round Annunciation page:
Worship Service — A sample worship service for the Annunciation, including the hymn "O Word of God Incarnate" and selections from scripture, the Book of Concord, Luther's Small Catechism with Explanation, and 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship, and an introduction that begins: "A sign in the Holy Land reads, 'Here the Word became flesh.' You will not find this sign in Bethlehem, but in Nazareth. There the angel announced to Mary, not just that she would bear a son, but also that she would conceive a son. By the power of the Holy Spirit, through the words of the angel spoken in Mary's ear, the Son of God took on flesh as a tiny embryo." Right-Click here to save a copy of the service in MS Word, or right-click here for Adobe .PDF format.
Sample Sermon — Rev. Dr. James I. Lamb’s sermon “Pregnant with God” (based on Luke 1:26-38) uses Scripture, Reformation Era writings, the Lutheran Confessions, and quotes from more recent scholars and theologians (Dr. Edward Koehler, Francis Pieper) to highlight the Incarnational and pro-life significance of Christ’s conception. Right-Click here to save a download of the sermon.
Brochure — (“The Annunciation and Abortion”) by Rev. Edward Fehskens — offers a historical review and addresses the pro-life implications of the Annunciation and Visitation of Mary and the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Click here to read the text, or right-click here for an Adobe file you can print copies from. Click the following link to order brochures on-line.
Visiting the Lutherans For Life home page regularly will give a reminder of the upcoming feast day up to two months in advance as the site features a linked banner for these Annunciation materials as the feast day approaches (one of several banners that appear sequentially across the top of the page).
In the past, LFL has also offered or recommended the following:
Bulletin Insert — (“The Miracle of the Incarnation”/"The Miracle of the Annunciation") -- Click here to order print copies and/or click the downloads tab at the ordering page to save a simple text version at no cost -- or for direct access to the free text version right-click here and save. The site includes this description of the insert: "The Miracle of the Incarnation -- The path to the cross did not begin in Bethlehem but in Nazareth! March 25 is the most appropriate time to celebrate the Incarnation. God became man at Jesus’ conception in Mary. Since our beginnings were sinful (Psalm 51:5), Jesus had to take our place from that very moment. Part of the redemptive process was for Jesus to pass through all stages of our development. What powerful implications for the value of human life from the very beginning! Jesus’ divinity and humanity at the moment of conception attest to our humanity from that moment."
Bible-Based Study Guide (including Annunciation) — Offers the "God's Word for Life" Bible-based study guide including a section on The Annunciation and the Beginning of Life. In the Topical Index, under the "Beginning of Life" section you will find the subtopic "The Annunciation and the Beginning of Life."
Other Annunciation-themed materials offered in the past that may be available from Lutherans For Life include:
Article — (“Womb and Tomb”) by Rev. Dr. James I. Lamb (Ex. Dir. Lutherans for Life) -- to read the text of the article right-click to open/save this PDF file of the Spring 2005 edition of National Lutherans For Life's LifeDate newsletter -- if LFL no longer offers print copies, just print page 2 of the PDF file. The article is particularly relevant for years in which March 25 falls on Good Friday but most of the text can be used every year, such as the following excerpts: "March 25th, the Annunciaton of our Lord…marks the conception of Jesus in Mary's womb….a good reminder for pro-life Christians…. From the womb of the Virgin Mary to the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, Jesus took our place. From the womb to the tomb, He showed how much God values human life."
Passage 717 on the prenatal meeting of Jesus and John the Baptist: "John was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb (Lk 1:,15, 41) by Christ himself, whom the Virgin Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary's visitation to Elizabeth thus became a visit from God to his people."
Passage 495 highlights the fact that Elizabeth calls Mary "the mother of my Lord" even before Jesus was born--just shortly after his conception in fact--meaning that even as a tiny, barely visible newly conceived embryo--Jesus was Lord.
Passage 486 explains that Jesus was the "Christ" from His conception in Mary's womb, but that the revelation or manifestation of this to the world took place gradually--and this progressive manifestation to the world is what we celebrate in remembering and celebrating these important events that took place after Christ's conception--from the Visitation revealing the presence of the Word made Flesh to Elizabeth and the unborn John, to the birth in Bethlehem when God incarnate was unveiled, to the visit of the shepherds who saw God face to face for the first time, to Epiphany when Christ was revealed to representatives of the nations.
The Knights of Columbus commitment to promoting the Annunciation feast day as the “Day of the Unborn Child” is expressed through their many events and pro-life masses for the day sponsored by local councils and via their website which offers several “Day of the Unborn Child” resources and the KofC recommendations for church-based activities including an Overview, several Action Steps, various Support Materials, as well as a .pdf file of a sample program for prayer and Suggested Intercessions (right click the link to save). Also read this KofC article on "The Day the Word was Made Flesh" regarding the importance of the Annunciation. For additional info on the Knights' work to promote the pro-life aspects of the Annunciation you can enter "day of the unborn" in the search box on the KofC website for more ideas and information on how to observe the day.
-- Click the link for more information on the several booklets plus an illustrated set of 10 posters to span the months from the Annunciation to Christmas--the Family Resources Center offers publications of its own as well as One More Soul materials that offer many ideas and approaches to church and school based observance of the Annunciation and its pro-life import, including spiritual adoption.
Visit their resources page that includes a link to their Annunciation Novena .pdf file -- or use this direct link (right click to save). Additional material for bulletins/sermons on the importance of the Annunciation is available at their Word Became Flesh page that includes a column on the Annunciation and quotations from Priests for Life's Fr. Frank Pavone. Both the Annunciation Novena and The Word Became Flesh flier including Fr. Pavone's quotes is available for download at their printed resources page -- or right click this direct link to save the flier -- or for a Spanish version of the flier right-click here to save. The following excerpt from "The Word Became Flesh" Column by Greg Schleppenbach from "The Faithful and Watchful Citizen": For Christians, the Annunciation should be a rich source of reflection on the sacred dignity of human life from its very beginning at conception. Our Lord didn’t descend from Heaven as a 30-year-old adult and begin His ministry. He "became man" by taking the same form that every human being takes at the beginning of life–as a single cell embryo. There obviously was a purpose for everything our Lord did. Therefore, the fact that He began His earthly life as an embryo and experienced every subsequent stage of human development (fetus, infant, child, adolescent and adult) necessarily gives significant meaning and dignity to each of these stages....it was an unborn child (John the Baptist) who first recognized Christ’s presence on earth. In his meditations on the Annunciation, Father Frank Pavone, founder of Priests for Life, asks these provocative questions: "Would it long be possible for believers, who meditate on the unborn child who was God, to fail to see that unborn children are made in God’s image?….Would it be likely that those who ponder that our Almighty Protector was a baby in the womb will fail to see that babies in the womb deserve protection? Would it happen that Christians, who acknowledge that their Lord and Brother was an embryo and fetus, will fail to see that every embryo and fetus is a brother and sister in the Lord?"
Right-click to save the pro-life Annunciation novena: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/natural-family-planning/awareness-week/upload/Annunciation-Novena.pdf
A Spanish Version of the Annunciation Novena is included in the 2006-2007 Respect Life Liturgy Guide (Spanish edition) on page 15 in both the print version and the file LitGuideSp.pdf
Hard copies can be purchased by calling their toll free number, 1-866-582-0943 or e-mail email@example.com -- for the Annunciation Novena in English, ask for item #0726
This blessing is ideal to offer at the feast day Mass to all pregnant women for their unborn children, or as part of a special event for the day. The Annunciation feast of 2012 was chosen as the date to announce the Vatican's approval of its publication. See the Roman Catholic section of the Ecumenical Celebration page for more info and a link to the text of the blessing in both English and Spanish.