My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
ON 25 MARCH
OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH
COMMEMORATES THE GREAT FEAST OF THE
ANNUNCIATION OF THE THEOTOKOS AND
EVER VIRGIN MARY
Apolytikion of the Feast. Mode 4.
TODAY is the summary of our salvation and
the revelation of the age-old mystery. For the Son
of God becomes the Son of the Virgin and Gabriel
announces the good news of grace. Therefore,
"Rejoice, Maiden full of grace! The Lord is with you."
An Angel of supreme rank was sent down
from heaven to say to the Theotokos, Rejoice. And
perceiving You take bodily form at the sound of
his bodiless voice, O Lord, he was astounded and
he stood shouting to her such salutations:
REJOICE, through whom is the joy to shine
forth. REJOICE, through whom is the curse to
REJOICE, restoration of Adam the fallen one.
REJOICE, liberation of Eve from tears.
REJOICE, height to which the thoughts of men
are hardly able to ascend. REJOICE, depth which for
the Angels’ eyes is very hard to apprehend.
REJOICE, for you are the Throne for the King.
REJOICE, for you hold the One Who holds
REJOICE, the star causing the Sun’s
manifestation. REJOICE, the womb of the Divine
REJOICE, through Whom is creation re-created.
REJOICE, by Whom is the Creator procreated
REJOICE, O unwedded Bride.
Glory. Both now.
The age-old mystery is revealed today and the
Son of God becomes the Son of man, so that by
partaking of what is lower He may impart to me
what is superior. Of old, Adam was deceived, and
he did not become God, though this was his desire.
But now, God becomes man, to make Adam god.
Let creation sing for joy, and let nature be exultant.
For the Archangel is standing with awe before the
Virgin and is delivering the salutation, "REJOICE,"
the reverse of the pain and sorrow, O our God,
Who in Your tender mercy became man, glory to
Saint Gregory Palamas writes in his homily on the Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Holy of Holies the following: "If a tree is known by its fruit (cf. Matthew 7:17; Luke 6:43-44), how could she who is the Mother of Goodnes and s itself, who gave birth to that Beauty which has no beginning, not be incomparably more excellent and beautiful than anything good on earth and in heaven? The power who made all things fair, the co-sempiternal, express Image of Goodness, the pre-eternal, supraessential and supremely good Word/Logos of the Father Most High, wished in His ineffable love and compassion, for mankind to put on our image, in order to recall our human nature, which had been dragged down into the inmost recesses of Hades, to RENEW IT AFTER IT HAD GROWN OLD, AND TO RAISE IT UP BEYOND THE HEAVENLY HEIGHTS TO HIS KINGDOM AND DIVINITY, He united His person with our humanity, and since it was necessary for Him to assume flesh that was both new and our own, in order TO RENEW US by means of what was ours, He also had to be carried in the womb and brought forth as we are, then nurtured after birth and brought up as was appropriate. Becoming like us in all respects for our sake, He found the Ever-Virgin, whom he extol and whose musterious Entry into the Holy of Holies to be a most suitable handmaid in every way able to bestow on Him an undefiled nature from her own. God determined before all ages that she should be for THE SALVATION AND RESTORATION OF OUR RACE, AND CHOSE HER FROM ALL MANKIND DOWN THROUGH THE AGES, NOT SIMPLY FROM AMONG ORDINARY FOLK, BUT FROM ALL THE ELECT OF EVERY AGE, WHO WERE ADMIRED AND RENOWNED FOR THEIR PIETY AND UNDERSTANDING AND WHO WER BOTH BENEFICIAL TO ALL AND WELL-PLEASING TO GOD IN THEIR WAYS, WORDS, AND DEEDS…
"…God was not just born among men, but born OF A HOLY AND PURE VIRGIN, MORE PRECISELY OF THE EXCEEDINGLY PURE AND MOST HOLY OF VIRGINS WHO WAS NOT ONLY ABOVE ANY PHYSICAL STAIN, BUT ALSO FAR BEYOND THE REACH OF ANY DEFILED, CARNAL THOUGHTS. Her conception of Christ resulted from the All-Holy Spirit coming upon her, not from fleshly desire, and was PRECEDED BY THE ANNUNCIATION AND HER FAITH IN THE INDWELLING OF GOD IN A MANNER WE CANNOT DESCRIBE, AS IT WAS OUTSIDE THE NORMAL COURSE OF EVENTS AND BEYOND WORDS, BUT NOT BY SUBMISSION TO, OR ANY EXPERIENCE OF PASSIONATE DESIRE. Having utterly banished such desire BY PRAYER AND SPIRITUAL JOY, SHE CONCEIVED AND GAVE BIRTH – "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word" (St. Luke 1:38). In order that there would be A VIRGIN EQUAL TO THIS TASK, God PRE-ORDAINED this Ever-Virgin Maid whom we extol today AND CHOSE HER FROM AMONG His elect down through the ages…
"… In the Gospel it is written that a woman pronounced a blessing on His Mother and gave thanks, lifting up her voice and crying out to the Lord from the crowd, "BLESSED IS THE WOMB THAT BORE THEE, AND THE PAPS WHICH THOU HAST SUCKED" (St. Luke 11:27). As for us, we constantly have the words of eternal life in writing, and not just Christ’s sayings, but also His miracles and His sufferings, and the raising up of our human nature from the dead accomplished by these sufferings, they ascension of our human nature from earth to heaven and the everlasting life and irrevocable salvation pronounced to us as a result. So how cn we do other than extol and bless without ceasing the Mother of the Bestower OF SALVATION, THE GIVER OF LIFE, CELEBRATING HER CONCEPTION, HER BIRTH, AND HER COMING TO DWELL IN THE HOLY OF HOLIES." (Saint Gregory Palamas, Homilies)
Saint Paulinus, in a poem, describes The Event of the conception thus: "In this CONSECRATED VIRGIN, GOD BUILT Himself a pleasing temple with a hidden roof-aperture. Silently He glided down like the rain that falls at noiseless dew from a high cloud upoon a fleece [Judges 6:36-40]. None was ever privy to this secret visitation by which God took the form of man from His Virgin-Mother. How remarkable was the artifice of the Lord which sought the salvation of men! Without intercourse, a woman’s womb conceived new life. The bride did not submit to a mere husband. She was a mother and bore a child without the women’s role in intercourse. The compact made her a spouse, but she was no wife in body. She became the 19:12-13]Mothe of a Boy, though she was untainted by a husband."
Saint Ephraim the Syrian writes: "Therefore, He came down, in a manner He knows. He stirred and came in a way that pleased Him. He entered and dwelt in her without her perceiving. She received Him, suffering nothing. In Homily 41, Saint Ephraim writes, "As lightning illuminates what is hidden, so also Christ purifies what is hidden in the nature of things. He purified the Virgin also and then was born, so as to show that where Christ is, there is manifest purity in all its power. He purified the Virgin, having prepared her by the Holy Spirit, and then the womb, having become pure, conceived Him.."
Saint Gregory Palamas writes, that "the King of All … over-shadowed her, or rather, the enhypostatic Power of the Most High dwelt in her. He did not manifest His presence through darkness and fire, as in the case of Moses the God-seer, nor through tempest and cloud [Exodus 19:18; Deuteronomy 4:11-12], as with Prophet Eias [3 Kings 19:12-13]. This time without mediation or a veil, the power of the Most High overshadowed the sublimely chaste and virgin womb…".
This day the Ever-Virgin Mary has become forus the heaven that bears God, for in her the exalted Godhead has descended and dwelt. In her it was grown small, to make us great–but its Nature does not deminish. In her It has woven for us a garment that shall be for our salvation. (Source: The Life of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George