The Annunciation is the name for God's 'announcing' to Mary of Nazareth, that He wished her to become the Mother of His only begotten Son.
For infinite ages, the coming into the world of our Redeemer had been foretold to the angels, prophesied to man, and expected in the world. Now the wondrous time had arrived.
God instructed the Archangel Gabriel in the exact message he was to convey to Mary, and immediately Holy Gabriel, accompanied by thousands of beautiful angels, streamed down to earth, to Nazareth, in Galilee, to the humble abode of Mary.
She gave the matter deep consideration for several hours. Then with an intense love of God, so great we cannot begin to understand, She agreed to his request, saying, `Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to thy word.'
The Visitation refers to Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth. Mary had been told by the Archangel Gabriel that her cousin Elizabeth, though of advanced years and sterile, was six months pregnant, and acting on further instructions from God, Mary determined to visit Elizabeth.
The journey of 26 leagues (perhaps 125 km?) took four days and three nights. The thousand angels of Mary's guard accompanied Mary and Joseph, but were visible only to Mary.
When Mary and Elizabeth were alone, Elizabeth was infused with the knowledge that Mary was pregnant with the Son of the Most High.
She cried out `Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!'
Both Mary and Elizabeth were given to understand that the purpose and object of the trip, was so that Jesus, a mere 8 days after conception, should bless John the Baptist in his mother's womb and remove from him the stain of Original Sin, so that he might be distinguished in holiness as he was in his office of Precursor and Baptist.
When these words above were pronounced, the baby in Elizabeth's womb `leapt for joy', because he was given perfect use of reason, and understood that he had been sanctified from Original Sin.
Now it came to pass in those days, that a decree went forth from Caesar Augustus, that a census of the whole world be taken.
All were going, each to his own town of birth, to register.
The Most Pure Mary and the Glorious Saint Joseph departed from Nazareth for Bethlehem. Their journey lasted five days, for on account of the pregnancy of his spouse, Saint Joseph shortened each days journey. They arrived in Bethlehem at four o'clock, on a winter's evening, when the sun was already sinking.
Despite calling at over 50 places where they might find lodging for the night, none could be found.
Mary recognised that this was the doing of the Most High, for His own mysterious purpose. Joseph remembered a cave, just outside the city gates.
It was a shelter for animals and shepherds, but this night was deserted.
Joseph set about cleaning it up, and the Angels of Mary's guard and Mary herself joined in, so that in no time the cave was spotless.
During the night, Jesus our Redeemer was born and wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a Manger.
For forty days after the birth of a son, a woman, according to the law, was considered unclean, and was obliged to continue her purification for her readmittance into the temple.
In order to comply with this law, and also satisfy the obligation which demanded sanctification and presentation to the Lord of all first-born sons, Mary travelled to Jerusalem, where she was to appear in the temple with her Son.
During her journey, the Holy Spirit enlightened the high-priest Simeon, who had been promised that he would live to see the Saviour, concerning the coming of the Lord, and of His presentation in the temple in the arms of His mother.
The high-priest Simeon, moved by the Holy Spirit, entered the temple, and saw both Mother and Child enveloped in splendor and glory. He accepted the Infant Jesus from His mother's hands.
Raising up his eyes to heaven he offered him up to the Eternal Father, saying "Now dost Thou dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, because my eyes have seen Thy salvation."
The Finding in the Temple
Three times each year, the Jewish men, but not the women, were obliged to present themselves before the Lord in the Temple of Jerusalem.
But it obliged only the men, and not the women, therefore The women could go or not go.
After conferring about this, they decided that on each third occasion, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, they would all go together.
After spending the seven days of the Feast in Jerusalem, they began the journey home. Jesus was then about 12 years old, and at that age could travel with either the men or the women, who used to travel in separate groups by day, and meet up at night.
Joseph thought that Jesus was with Mary, and Mary like-wise thought that Jesus was with Joseph.
When they came together at the end of the first day, they were devastated to realise they had lost Him. Immediately they set out to return to Jerusalem to find Him.
For three sorrowful days they sought Him, going without food or sleep, such was their great distress and sorrow.At the end of the ordeal, they were enlightened as to where He was,and both hurried immediately to the Temple, where they found Him astounding the scribes and learned men with His knowledge. When His mother questioned Him, He replied, "Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?"