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Feast of the Annunciation

It was in the Rule of 1838 that the feast of the Annunciation replaced Pentecost as patronal feast of the Institute. This change was the desire of Br. Augustin as a mark of separation from the Company of Mary. But as an irony of history, the Fathers as well as the Sisters also chose the Annunciation as patronal feast. It has thus become feast of the entire Montfortian Family, and they do not miss the opportunities for celebrating it together. On 25 March 1992, for example, there was in our chapel of the General House a fine gathering of 6 Fathers, 35 Sisters and 17 Brothers.

The Rule of Life gives the essence of this feast: "Thus will the Brothers celebrate the mystery of the presence of the Son of God in the lives of men, and the privileged role of Mary in the plan of salvation" (C. 7).

Pivot of the spiritual life of the Brothers, the scene of the Annunciation was represented everywhere: on the seal of the Institute, on the letterheads, on the cover of the Chronicle or the Almanac St Gabriel, on the inside page of the Rule of Life, where we find, among the many annunciation pictures of Fra Angelico, the one he painted in the corridors of the first floor of the St Mark's convent in Florence. Two other artistic representations deserve our attention: a stained-glass window of the majestic chapel in Sriracha, Thailand; the terracotta of Angelo Biancini, the Listening Virgin installed in the entrance to the General House which is a variation of the one kept in one of the rooms dedicated to the artist in the Vatican museum of modern art.

The annunciation made to Mary is recalled each day in the prayeroftheAngelus on which Br. Gabriel-Marie (a fitting name), has written something beautiful:

"The Angelus has remained a small divine office in honour of the mystery of the Incarnation: the brief verses and responses which mingle with the Aveare of inexhaustible fullness. So, will it not be befitting to make it our Gabrielite prayer, that which makes us live our spirituality and contains the mystical source where we can, each day, renew our spirit.

It is, like the Rosary, the great prayer that unites us to Jesus through Mary. It is because Mary said, "Let it be done unto me according to thy word" that Wisdom has pitched His tent among us. It has to be further remarked that the Angelus is substantially the same prayer as the Rosary, the contemplation of the mysteries of Christ intermingled with appeals for Mary's mediation ...

The Angelus is finally, with the Mass, the prayer that better comprises the renewal of our vows, since by invoking the Incarnate Word, the great"religious"ofthe Father, and her who wanted to be called "the handmaid of the Lord", it enables us to commune, through faith and love, in Mary and through her, with Him who is the principle and model of all consecration" (Letter of the Superior n? 6, dated 24 June 1956).



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