Today is the Feast of the Annunciation. In England this great day, the beginning of our Salvation, has been known as “Lady Day”, that is to say, “Our Lady’s Day” and also it celebrated the beginning of the New Year. (The symbolic importance of this should not be overlooked: New Year rightly coincides with the first day of the New Creation inaugurated by Holy Mary’s fiat when presented with the terrible news that in her womb, like the primeval void, was to be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and Life spring, ex nihilo, where no life is possible).
The Incarnation marks not only an entirely new relationship between God and Man, but indeed the “corner” at which the whole of creation turns. Interestingly, to me at least, Tolkien takes this as the date of the “fall of Sauron” and beginning of the new age. “Sing and rejoice,” he writes, “all ye children of the Tower of Anor [the Sun] for the reign of Sauron is ended forever, and the Dark Tower is thrown down… And the days that followed were golden.” Lewis, in his great novel Perelandra has more to say, to the effect that even so seemingly small an event in the intimacy of Mary’s house at Nazareth, may effect the whole course of the universe. Tinidril, the great and innocent Queen of Perelandra, says, “Since our Beloved became a man, how should Reason in any world take on another form? Do you not understand? That is all over. Among times there is a time that turns a corner and everything this side of it is new. Times do not go backward.” Ransom, her human interlocutor replies, “And can one little world like mine be a corner?” To which she answers, “I do not understand. Corner with us is not the name of a size.”
I love these literary allusions to the great day of the Incarnation, and they help us to recall that the victory of Christ over Evil is effected from the moment his mother accedes to the Divine request that she bear the true Sol Invictus in her womb. It is “accomplished”, in St. John’s word, upon the Cross, and vindicated in the Resurrection. The Modern Roman Rite prayer for today says, in part, “Concede, quaesumus, ut, qui Redemptorem nostrum Deum et hominem confitemur, ipsius etiam divinae naturae mereamur esse consortes.” I rather like this, too, even though according to Fr. Z. it is a modern composition. In English is runs something like: “Concede, we beseech, that we who our Redeemer as God and Man confess, may also of his divine nature be worthy sharers.”