Today, 25 March 2016, is simultaneously the Feast of the Annunciation and Good Friday. Liturgically we celebrate the Annunciation later.
In ancient times there was a tradition that Christ died on the 8th day before the Kalends of April: 25 March. The idea that Christ died gave up the ghost on the day He took our flesh is certainly as beautiful as it is fitting.
How poignant it would have been also for Mary.
Mary said “Yes.” on the day of the Annunciation. “Fiat” was her prayer. That day the Incarnation took place as the Son took our humanity into an indestructible bond with His divinity. Christ’s life began in the private darkness of the womb. Soon after Salvation was born into the light of the world.
Mary said “Yes.” on the day of her Son’s death. “Fiat” was her prayer. That day the Incarnation was temporarily broken, as His human soul and body were sundered. Christ’s life ended in the public darkness of the biblical tenebrae. Soon after Salvation was accomplished with a burst of light at the Resurrection.
Good Friday rarely falls on Annunciation, Lady Day. Lately it occurred in 1910, 1921, 1932, 2005, and today. It’ll be a long time before the next time: 2157.
It also occurred in the year 1608. That day, the poet John Donne, one of the Metaphysical Poets, penned a magnificent poem. He contrasts the two experiences of our Lady.
Upon the Annunciation and Passion Falling upon One Day. 1608
Tamely, frail body, abstain today; today
My soul eats twice, Christ hither and away.
She sees Him man, so like God made in this,
That of them both a circle emblem is,
Whose first and last concur; this doubtful day
Of feast or fast, Christ came and went away;
She sees Him nothing twice at once, who’s all;
She sees a Cedar plant itself and fall,
Her Maker put to making, and the head
Of life at once not yet alive yet dead;
She sees at once the virgin mother stay
Reclused at home, public at Golgotha;
Sad and rejoiced she’s seen at once, and seen
At almost fifty and at scarce fifteen;
At once a Son is promised her, and gone;
Gabriel gives Christ to her, He her to John;
Not fully a mother, she’s in orbity,
At once receiver and the legacy;
All this, and all between, this day hath shown,
The abridgement of Christ’s story, which makes one
(As in plain maps, the furthest west is east)
Of the Angels’ Ave and Consummatum est.
How well the Church, God’s court of faculties,
Deals in some times and seldom joining these!
As by the self-fixed Pole we never do
Direct our course, but the next star thereto,
Which shows where the other is and which we say
(Because it strays not far) doth never stray,
So God by His Church, nearest to Him, we know
And stand firm, if we by her motion go;
His Spirit, as His fiery pillar doth
Lead, and His Church, as cloud, to one end both.
This Church, by letting these days join, hath shown
Death and conception in mankind is one:
Or ‘twas in Him the same humility
That He would be a man and leave to be:
Or as creation He had made, as God,
With the last judgment but one period,
His imitating Spouse would join in one
Manhood’s extremes: He shall come, He is gone:
Or as though the least of His pains, deeds, or words,
Would busy a life, she all this day affords;
This treasure then, in gross, my soul uplay,
And in my life retail it every day.
Another poet, George Herbert wrote a poem in Latin reflecting on our life through Christ’s death:
In Natales et Pascha Concurrentes
Cum tu, Christe, cadis, nascor ; mentemque ligavit
Una meam membris horula, teque cruci.
O me disparibus natum cum numine fatis !
Cur mihi das vitam, quam tibi, Christe, negas ?
Quin moriar tecum : vitam, quam negligis ipse,
Accipe; ni talem des, tibi qualis erat.
Hoc mihi legatum tristi si funere praestes,
Christe, duplex fiet mors tua vita mihi :
Atque ubi per te sanctificer natalibus ipsis,
In vitam, et nervos Pascha coaeva fluet.
Christina Rossetti has this:
Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?
Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon –
I, only I.
Yet give not o’er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.