The Annunciation is heaven and earth coming together. Through the Immaculate Conception that had happened already, and now, through the Fiat of the Virgin Mary, all of creation participates in this mystery and begins to be transformed. When we say Yes, we are entirely transformed—into Him. When we receive Him, we unite ourselves with Him. The more we become one with the Sacrifice—we participate in the Sacrifice—we become empty so that we can be filled—filled with God who cannot be contained. We stay “nothings,” but that which flows through us is powerful, transforming. By her faith Our Lady participated perfectly in the Sacrifice already from the moment of her Fiat. This is the gift that came to save the world.

Lk 1:26: In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God into a city of Galilee by the name of Nazareth…

Sixth month.  The Annunciation occurred on the sixth month from the conception of St. John the Baptist.  Historically, it was the sixth month under the reign of King Darius that the Israelites began to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem, “the house of the Lord” (Hag 1:15). The Temple had been left desolate during the Babylonian exile, and its rebuilding had been vigorously opposed by the Samaritans. The name of the high priest during its successful reconstruction was Jesus (Joshua; cf. Hag 1:12). Typologically, the building of the temple of the Lord’s Body, His sacred humanity (cf. Jn 2:21), is announced by the Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin. With her Fiat, the Mother of Jesus clothed the Eternal Word with her immaculate flesh. Thus, we read, six and forty years was this temple in building (Jn 2:20).  Forty-six years equals the thirty-three years of Our Lord’s life plus thirteen years, the age at which it seems most plausible that the Immaculate Virgin conceived the Christ. In the figure of the Temple, therefore, we see the continuity of Mary and Jesus in regard to His Sacred Humanity. The building of the temple of the Lord’s Body, in other words, began with the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother, St. Anne. St. Andrew of Crete says as much in his sermon on the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary: “This is, in fact, the day on which the Creator of the world constructed His temple; today is the day on which by a stupendous project a creature becomes the preferred dwelling of the Creator.”

Gabriel.  Literally, “Strength of God.” St. Gabriel announces the Lord, “who was coming as the God of strength, and mighty in battle, to put down the powers of the air,” namely, Satan and the other fallen angels.[1] “It was as a fit beginning for man’s restoration, that an angel should be sent down from God to consecrate a virgin by a divine birth, for the first cause of man’s perdition was the devil sending a serpent to deceive a woman by the spirit of pride.”[2] St. Lawrence of Brindisi sees the Archangel Gabriel as a “most honorable legate and go-between,” sent to arrange the marriage of God and the Virgin Mary, just “as the matrimony of princes are accustomed to be treated.”[3] In both Old Testament appearances, St. Gabriel is sent explicitly to strengthen the Prophet’s understanding of the divine plan (cf. Dan 8:16-19 and 9:21-23).

Nazareth.  “Christ was called a Nazarene, being, as it were, the country in which he was conceived. The Blessed Virgin, therefore, dwelt there with Joseph, to whom she was betrothed. The house or chamber in which she conceived Christ was consecrated by St. James and the other Apostles as a church. After three hundred years, St. Helen built a temple there. Also, St. Paula, St. Louis, and other travelers visited it. After a thousand years, it was translated by angels from Nazareth to Dalmatia and thence to Italy, to Loreto, where it even now stands, and is visited by pilgrims from the whole world.”[4]

Lk 1:27: … to a virgin espoused to a man, whose name was Joseph of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.

Virgin.  The Greek reads parthenos. The prophecy of Isaiah 7:14—behold, a virgin shall conceive in the womb, and shall bring forth a son—is cited in full by St. Matthew (Mt 1:22-23). Mary “remained a virgin in conceiving her Son, a virgin in giving birth to Him, a virgin in carrying Him, a virgin in nursing Him at her breast, always a virgin.”[5] St. Augustine links the Perpetual Virginity with the mystery of the Virgin Church. He writes, “It was necessary for our Head by this mighty miracle to be born according to the flesh of a virgin that He might signify that His members were to be born in the spirit of a virgin Church.”[6] The Catechism teaches the same. “At once virgin and mother, Mary is the symbol and the most perfect realization of the Church: ‘the Church indeed… by receiving the word of God in faith becomes herself a mother. By preaching and Baptism she brings forth sons, who are conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of God, to a new and immortal life. She herself is a virgin, who keeps in its entirety and purity the faith she pledged to her spouse.’”[7] St. Francis of Assisi, with true mystical intuition, invokes Our Lady as the “Virgin Made Church.”

Espoused to… Joseph.  The Hebrew erusin (“betrothal”) is the first of two stages of an ancient Jewish marriage rite. Joseph and Mary are not engaged at the time of the Annunciation; they are, in fact, legally married. Although the espoused couple could not yet live together, the Mosaic Law safeguarded the marital goods of fidelity and permanence during this twelve month period: adultery was punishable by death (cf. Deut 22:23-27), and separation was possible only by means of a legal divorce.[8] Moreover, erusin is akin to a marriage ratum non consummatum. Marital relations (and, hence, the good of children) were proscribed until nissuin, the second stage of the marriage, when the couple finally came to live together.[9]

In the New Testament, the Greek mnesteuo (espouse) is used exclusively in reference to St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary (cf. Mt 1:18; Lk 1:27; 2:5). There exists a yet even more pronounced singularity in the way in which St. Joseph “takes” Mary to be his wife in Matthew 1:20, 24.[10]

Mary.  “In Hebrew Miriam, that is Mar Yam, myrrh, or bitterness of the sea; for the Hebrews have a tradition that the sister of Moses was called Miriam, because when she was born the bitter tyranny of Pharaoh in drowning the Hebrew children began. But, by the divine will, the name was afterwards changed to a different meaning, for after the Red Sea had been crossed and Pharaoh had been drowned, she was called Mariam (Mara Yam), that is, mistress of the sea; for as Moses was the leader of the men, so Miriam was the leader of the women in the passage of the Red Sea. Moreover, she was a type, says St. Ambrose, of the Blessed Virgin, who is called Mary, that is, the Mistress and Lady of the sea of this world, that she may lead us through it in safety to the Promised Land, that is, heaven. St. Isidore[11] says, ‘Mary is by interpretation illuminator or star of the sea; for she brought forth the Light of the world. But in the Syrian language Mary is called Lady, because she brought forth the Lord.’

“For this reason Mary was full of grace, and a sea of graces; for as all rivers run into the sea, so all graces which angels, patriarchs, apostles, martyrs, confessors, virgins possessed, came together in her, as St. Bonaventure says.  St. Bridget also shows in her Revelations, 1.9, how delightful the name of Mary is to the angels, and how terrible to demons.”[12]

Lk 1:28: And entering he said to her, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.”

Hail.  The Greek reads Chaire, or Rejoice. This inaugural address of the New Testament is “an invitation to joy.” It is the fulfillment of the prophecy given to Daughter Zion, called to rejoice wholeheartedly over her perfect redemption (cf. Zeph 3:14-18). “It was quite correct for the angel Gabriel to greet her as the ‘Daughter of Zion,’”[13] for she had been redeemed by her Son most perfectly by means of a preservative redemption, namely, the Immaculate Conception. Given Mary’s profound knowledge of Sacred Scripture (cf. Lk 1:46-56), “it must clearly have appeared to her that she herself was the ‘Daughter Zion’ of whom the Prophet spoke.”[14] “The Prophet Zephaniah, in addition, lets us know that this joy is reciprocal: we are invited to rejoice, but the Lord also rejoices in his relationship with us; indeed, the prophet writes: ‘he will exult over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing’ (Zeph 3: 17).”[15]

“Far different, then, to the news formerly addressed to the woman [Eve], is the announcement now made to the Virgin. In the former, the cause of sin was punished by the pains of childbirth; in the latter, through gladness, sorrow is driven away.”[16] Surely, there is cause for rejoicing here, in every time and place. To this day, among the Nicaraguan people (even the Protestant brethren), on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, one can hear “La Gritería,” a cry of utter jubilation: ¿Qué causa tanta alegría? ¡La concepción de María! What causes so much joy? The Conception of Mary!

Let us also make this, then, our spiritual exercise—never to let a day go by without rejoicing and giving thanks for the gift of our holy Faith. Let us rejoice that we have been given a right ordering—a divine logos—to our thoughts and desires; that we can understand, to whatever degree possible, the mystery of human suffering; and that the crosses in our lives can take on a resonance in Christ that other religions simply cannot fathom.

A New Testament survey of Chaire reveals four direct parallels (the grammatical present tense, active voice, imperative mood, second person singular). Each is an address to Our Lord: three as “King” by the Roman centurions at the crowning with thorns (Mt 27:29; Mk 15:18; Jn 19:3), and one as “Rabbi” by Judas at the very moment of his betrayal (Mt 26:49). From this we learn the great cost of Christian joy, purchased for us by our dear Savior as the Man of Sorrows. Such a backdrop also perhaps provides an insight into why the Virgin became so greatly troubled at this greeting from the Angel: she knew well the prophecy of Isaiah on the Suffering Servant. And last, all this is said by way of introduction to the following remarks which, although based on the Vulgate, are entirely in accord with the sense of the Greek reported here—specifically, the centurion’s address of the Christ as “King.”

The Latin reads Ave, or Hail. Historically, Ave was the salutation given to the Roman emperor at the time of one’s death: Ave, Caesar, morituri te salutant, or “Hail, Caesar, those about to die salute you.”  It thus appears as a royal greeting. We read of the Roman centurions mocking the kingship of the Christ:  Hail, King of the Jews! (Mt 27:29; Mk 15:18; Jn 19:3). Therefore, a royal significance may also be attributed to the Angel’s greeting of the Virgin Mary. In this way, then, Ave is seen to be the heavenly proclamation of Our Lady’s Queenship, a proper and royal address to the Queen Mother of the King of kings, of whose kingdom there will be no end. This is the interpretation of the Church: “It can be said that the heavenly voice of the Archangel Gabriel was the first to proclaim Mary’s royal office.”[17] “The Immaculate will be, or rather ought to be, recognized as the Queen of each and every person, in… the entire world, as soon as possible. Behold our marching orders, for which it is worth living, working, suffering and dying.”[18]

Moreover, Ave spelled backwards is Eva (the Latin for Eve).  Hence, Ave may also be taken as a hailing of the New Eve, she who will effect the complete reversal of Eve’s role in the Fall:  Mary’s faith heals the rupture of Eve’s unbelief; the Virgin birth supersedes the curse with its pains of childbirth; and the Immaculate Conception supplants the Original Sin.  And such is the faith of the Church in the ancient hymn, Ave Maris Stella:

Sumens illud Ave            Taking that sweet Ave,
Gabrielis ore                    which from Gabriel came,
Funda nos in pace           peace confirm within us,
Mutans Evae nomen.       changing Eva’s name.

Full of grace.  The Greek reads kecharitoméne. This heavenly title is the scriptural foundation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.[19]

When the Fathers and writers of the Church meditated on the fact that the most Blessed Virgin was, in the name and by order of God himself, proclaimed full of grace by the Angel Gabriel when he announced her most sublime dignity of Mother of God, they thought that this singular and solemn salutation, never heard before, showed that the Mother of God is the seat of all divine graces and is adorned with all gifts of the Holy Spirit. To them Mary is an almost infinite treasury, an inexhaustible abyss of these gifts, to such an extent that she was never subject to the curse and was, together with her Son, the only partaker of perpetual benediction.[20]

St. Jerome writes, “And it is well said, Full of grace, for to others, grace comes in part; but the fullness of grace in complete treasure was infused into Mary. She truly is full of grace through whom has been poured forth upon every creature the abundant rain of the Holy Spirit.”[21]

Lk 1:29: But she was greatly troubled with his word and considered what sort of greeting this might be.

Greatly troubled.  The Greek reads diatarasso; literally, “troubled through.” Like kecharitoméne, this word is absolutely singular in all of Sacred Scripture; it occurs nowhere else. Diatarasso is also the first in a series of Marian vocabulary words, all of which begin with the prefix dia– (“through”), a word-trend that highlights the Immaculate’s role as Mediatrix of All Graces. Saint Bernard portrays for us how she was greatly troubled: “She was troubled, but not alarmed. Her being troubled was a mark of modesty; her not being alarmed of courage; while her keeping silence and meditating was a mark of prudence.”[22] Hear also the great St. Louis de Montfort on the Virgin’s profound humility:

So great was her humility that she desired nothing more upon earth than to remain unknown to herself and to others, and to be known only to God. In answer to her prayers to remain hidden, poor and lowly, God was pleased to conceal her from nearly every other human creature in her conception, her birth, her life, her mysteries, her resurrection and assumption… God the Father willed that she should perform no miracle during her life, at least no public one, although He had given her the power to do so. God the Son willed that she should speak very little, although He had imparted His wisdom to her. Even though Mary was His faithful spouse, God the Holy Spirit willed that His apostles and evangelists should say very little about her, and then only as much as was necessary to make Jesus known… She is the glorious Mother of God the Son who chose to humble and conceal her during her lifetime in order to foster her humility. He called her “Woman” as if she were a stranger, although in His Heart He esteemed and loved her above all men and angels.[23]

Greatly troubled also connotes, as a kind of subtext, the gift of Fear of the Lord.  Consider a verse remarkably concordant with the Annunciation, Esther 5:2: And Queen Esther said to him [King Artaxerxes], “I saw you, my lord, as an angel of God, and my heart was troubled from fear of your glory; for you, my lord, are to be wondered at, and your person is full of grace.”

Here, being troubled stems from fear of your glory. But understand from St. Bernard above how the Virgin’s response differs essentially from that of Queen Esther, as well as that of the shepherds on Christmas night (Cf. Lk 2:9). She is the Immaculate and thus suffers no inordinate passions.

Considered.  The Greek reads dialogisomai, literally “to reason through.”  This word occurs in eight different contexts throughout the New Testament. Juxtaposed to the Immaculate Virgin at the Annunciation, the seven remaining passages stand in direct correspondence to the seven capital sins.  In such a global context, dialogisomai indicates two significant findings: (1) the nearly universal scope of original sin in its specific effect of the darkening of the intellect (traditionally called ignorance); and (2) the absolutely singular and superior reasoning capacity of the Immaculate, who alone successfully arrives at the truth of things by the strength and light of her faith. Therefore a detailed study of dialogisomai in the New Testament provides a strong scriptural indication of the absolutely singular privilege of the Immaculate Conception. That is, Our Lady’s faculty of reason stands alone as having never been darkened by original sin and ignorance.[24]

Whereas the first interior movement of the Immaculate, diatarasso, concerns matters of “the heart,”[25] the subsequent movement of dialogisomai involves the intellect. In any case, observe that the overarching focus is Our Lady’s interior, her personal subjectivity. For it is at this level that she participates most intimately in our redemption by means of her spiritual maternity. Also note that both diatarasso and dialogisomai point to absolute singularity. That is, just as no one else in Sacred Scripture can be found to be greatly troubled as she was, so too no one may be found to equal her capacity to reason via dialogisomai. In a word, diatarasso indicates an Immaculate Heart and dialogisomai an immaculate intellect.


[1]     St. Gregory the Great, Catena Aurea.


[2]     Theophylact, ibid.


[3]     St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Mariale, 7th Serm. Annunc., 2.


[4]     Cornelius à Lapide, The Great Commentary, Lk 1:26.


[5]     St. Augustine, Serm. 186; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 510.


[6]     St. Augustine, Catena Aurea.


[7]     CCC 507.


[8]     Cf. Rashi, Gen 34:12, Ex 22:16; Targum, Pseudo-Jonathan, Deut 22:25-27.


[9]     Talmud, Kidushin, 12b; Birkat Erusin.


[10]    Cf. G. Dagesse, “Paralambano and the Perpetual Virginity of the Immaculate,” Missio Immaculatae International, Vol. 8, No. 5 (September/October 2012), pp. 29-32.


[11]    vii. Etym. cap. 10.


[12]    Cornelius à Lapide, Great Commentary, Lk 1, 27.


[13]    CCC 722.


[14]    Benedict XVI, Homily, December 18, 2005.


[15]    Benedict XVI, Homily, December 16, 2012.


[16]    St. Gregory of Nyssa, Catena Aurea.


[17]    Ven. Pius XII, Ad Caeli Reginam, 34.


[18]    St. Maximilian Kolbe, Writings, 1127.


[19]    Cf. G. Dagesse, “Who Are You, Kecharitoméne? You Are the Immaculate Mediatrix of All Graces,” Missio Immaculatae International, Vol. 11, No. 2 (March/April 2015), pp. 16-20.


[20]    Bl. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus.


[21]    St. Jerome, Serm. De Assump. B.V.


[22]    St. Bernard, Serm. 3, on Missus est.


[23]    St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion, 2-5.


[24]    “Everyone else who attempts to reason in this way, whether it be the apostles, the chief priests and elders, or the scribes—indeed, all men—universally do not arrive at the truth of things via dialogisomai, but rather fall into error and, consequently, into sin. Now, the sole exception to this etymological trend is seen in the Immaculate Virgin Mary at the Annunciation. Her reason does not fail her at the critical moment of discernment and decision because of her humility, even though she is greatly ‘troubled’ by Gabriel’s greeting… However, juxtaposed to the Immaculate Virgin Mary at the Annunciation—and this is what is most astonishing—the seven remaining passages in which we find dialogisomai stand in direct correspondence to the seven capital sins.” The seven other passages of the New Testament in which the verb dialogisomai occurs, with the corresponding intervening capital sins, are as follows: Mark 9:32-33 (pride); Luke 12:15-19 (avarice); Luke 20:14 (envy); Matthew 21:23-25 (wrath); Luke 3:15, 19-20 (lust); Mark 8:16-18, 21 (gluttony); and Mark 2:5-7 (sloth). G. Dagesse, “Luke 1:29 and Dialogisomai: The Immaculate Conception and the Seven Capital Sins,” Missio Immaculatae International, Vol. 7, No. 5 (September/October 2011), pp. 4-6.


[25]    Cf. tarasso in Lam 2:11; Lk 24:38; Jn 14:1, 27; 1 Pet 3:14.