Today we begin a discussion of Jesus’ Conception by the Power of the Holy Spirit and His Birth of the Virgin Mary. Supplemental material comes from St. Gregory Thaumaturgus’ “Homily on the Annunciation to the holy Virgin Mary”.

Paragraph 2. "CONCEIVED BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY"

I. CONCEIVED BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. . .

484 The Annunciation to Mary inaugurates "the fullness of time",119 The time of the fulfillment of God's promises and preparations. Mary was invited to conceive him in whom the "whole fullness of deity" would dwell "bodily".120 The divine response to her question, "How can this be, since I know not man?", was given by the power of the Spirit: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you."121

485 The mission of the Holy Spirit is always conjoined and ordered to that of the Son.122 The Holy Spirit, "the Lord, the giver of Life", is sent to sanctify the womb of the Virgin Mary and divinely fecundate it, causing her to conceive the eternal Son of the Father in a humanity drawn from her own.

486 The Father's only Son, conceived as man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, is "Christ", that is to say, anointed by the Holy Spirit, from the beginning of his human existence, though the manifestation of this fact takes place only progressively: to the shepherds, to the magi, to John the Baptist, to the disciples.123 Thus the whole life of Jesus Christ will make manifest "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power."124

II.... BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY

487 What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines in turn its faith in Christ.

Mary's predestination

488 "God sent forth his Son", but to prepare a body for him,125 He wanted the free co-operation of a creature. For this, from all eternity God chose for the mother of his Son a daughter of Israel, a young Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee, "a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary":126

The Father of mercies willed that the Incarnation should be preceded by assent on the part of the predestined mother, so that just as a woman had a share in the coming of death, so also should a woman contribute to the coming of life.127

489 Throughout the Old Covenant the mission of many holy women prepared for that of Mary. At the very beginning there was Eve; despite her disobedience, she receives the promise of a posterity that will be victorious over the evil one, as well as the promise that she will be the mother of all the living.128 By virtue of this promise, Sarah conceives a son in spite of her old age.129 Against all human expectation God chooses those who were considered powerless and weak to show forth his faithfulness to his promises: Hannah, the mother of Samuel; Deborah; Ruth; Judith and Esther; and many other women.130 Mary "stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord, who confidently hope for and receive salvation from him. After a long period of waiting the times are fulfilled in her, the exalted Daughter of Sion, and the new plan of salvation is established."131

IN BRIEF

508 From among the descendants of Eve, God chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of his Son. "Full of grace", Mary is "the most excellent fruit of redemption" (SC 103): from the first instant of her conception, she was totally preserved from the stain of original sin and she remained pure from all personal sin throughout her life.

St. Gregory Thaumaturgus discusses the Annunciation, Conception, and Virginity of Mary in his “Homily on the Annunciation to the Holy Virgin Mary”.

Today is the illustrious and ineffable mystery of Christians, who have willingly set their hope like a seal upon Christ, plainly declared to us. Today did Gabriel, who stands by God, come to the pure virgin, bearing to her the glad annunciation, Hail, thou that art highly favoured! And she cast in her mind what manner of salutation this might be. And the angel immediately proceeded to say, The Lord is with you: fear not, Mary; for you have found favour with God. Behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever: and of His kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?  Shall I still remain a virgin? Is the honour of virginity not then lost by me? And while she was yet in perplexity as to these things, the angel placed shortly before her the summary of his whole message, and said to the pure virgin, The Holy Ghost shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God. For what it is, that also shall it be called by all means. Meekly, then, did grace make election of the pure Mary alone out of all generations. For she proved herself prudent truly in all things; neither has any woman been born like her in all generations. She was not like the primeval virgin Eve, who, keeping holiday alone in paradise, with thoughtless mind, unguardedly hearkened to the word of the serpent, the author of all evil, and thus became depraved in the thoughts of her mind; and through her that deceiver, discharging his poison and refusing death with it, brought it into the whole world; and in virtue of this has arisen all the trouble of the saints. But in the holy Virgin alone is the fall of that (first mother) repaired. Yet was not this holy one competent to receive the gift until she had first learned who it was that sent it, and what the gift was, and who it was that conveyed it. While the holy one pondered these things in perplexity with herself, she says to the angel, Whence have you brought to us the blessing in such wise? Out of what treasure-stores is the pearl of the word dispatched to us? Whence has the gift acquired its purpose toward us? From heaven you have come, yet you walk upon earth! You exhibit the form of man, and (yet) you are glorious with dazzling light. These things the holy one considered with herself, and the archangel solved the difficulty expressed in such reasonings by saying to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you. Therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God. And fear not, Mary; for I am not come to overpower you with fear, but to repel the subject of fear. Fear not, Mary, for you have found favour with God. Question not grace by the standard of nature. For grace does not endure to pass under the laws of nature. You know, O Mary, things kept hidden from the patriarchs and prophets. You have learned, O virgin, things which were kept concealed till now from the angels. You have heard, O purest one, things of which even the choir of inspired men was never deemed worthy. Moses, and David, and Isaiah, and Daniel, and all the prophets, prophesied of Him; but the manner they knew not. Yet you alone, O purest virgin, are now made the recipient of things of which all these were kept in ignorance, and you learn the origin of them. For where the Holy Spirit is, there are all things readily ordered. Where divine grace is present, all things are found possible with God. The Holy Ghost shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall; overshadow you. Therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God. And if He is the Son of God, then is He also God, of one form with the Father, and co-eternal; in Him the Father possesses all manifestation; He is His image in the person, and through His reflection the (Father's) glory shines forth. And as from the ever-flowing fountain the streams proceed, so also from this ever-flowing and ever-living fountain does the light of the world proceed, the perennial and the true, namely Christ our God. For it is of this that the prophets have preached: The streams of the river make glad the city of God. And not one city only, but all cities; for even as it makes glad one city, so does it also the whole world. Appropriately, therefore, did the angel say to Mary the holy virgin first of all, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with you;inasmuch as with her was laid up the full treasure of grace. For of all generations she alone has risen as a virgin pure in body and in spirit; and she alone bears Him who bears all things on His word. Nor is it only the beauty of this holy one in body that calls forth our admiration, but also the innate virtue of her soul. Wherefore also the angels addressed her first with the salutation, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with you, and no spouse of earth; He Himself is with you who is the Lord of sanctification, the Father of purity, the Author of incorruption, and the Bestower of liberty, the Curator of salvation, and the Steward and Provider of the true peace, who out of the virgin earth made man, and out of man's side formed Eve in addition. Even this Lord is with you, and on the other hand also is of you. Come, therefore, beloved brethren, and let us take up the angelic strain, and to the utmost of our ability return the due meed of praise, saying, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with you! For it is yours truly to rejoice, seeing that the grace of God, as he knows, has chosen to dwell with you—the Lord of glory dwelling with the handmaiden; He that is fairer than the children of men  with the fair virgin; He who sanctifies all things with the undefiled. God is with you, and with you also is the perfect man in whom dwells the whole fullness of the Godhead. Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the fountain of the light that lightens all who believe upon Him! Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the rising of the rational Sun, and the undefiled flower of Life! Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the mead of sweet savour! Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the ever-blooming vine, that makes glad the souls of those who honour you? Hail, thou that art highly favoured!—the soil that, all untilled, bears bounteous fruit: for you have brought forth in accordance with the law of nature indeed, as it goes with us, and by the set time of practice, and yet in a way beyond nature, or rather above nature, by reason that God the Word from above took His abode in you, and formed the new Adam in your holy womb, and inasmuch as the Holy Ghost gave the power of conception to the holy virgin; and the reality of His body was assumed from her body. And just as the pearl comes of the two natures, namely lightning and water, the occult signs of the sea; so also our Lord Jesus Christ proceeds, without fusion and without mutation, from the pure, and chaste, and undefiled, and holy Virgin Mary; perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, in all things equal to the Father, and in all things consubstantial with us, apart from sin.

Footnotes

119 ⇒ Gal 4:4.
120 ⇒ Col 2:9.
121 Lk 1:34-35 (Greek).
122 Cf. ⇒ Jn 16:14-15.
123 Cf. ⇒ Mt 1:20; ⇒ 2:1-⇒ 12; ⇒ Lk 1:35; ⇒ 2:8-20; ⇒ Jn 1:3 ⇒ 1-34; ⇒ 2:11.
124 ⇒ Acts 10:38.
125 ⇒ Gal 4:4; ⇒ Heb 10:5.
126 ⇒ Lk 1:26-27.
127 LG 56; cf. LG 61.
128 Cf. ⇒ Gen 3:15, ⇒ 20.
129 Cf. ⇒ Gen 18:10-14; ⇒ 21:1-2.
130 Cf. ⇒ I Cor 1:17; ⇒ I Sam 1.
131 LG 55.