My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
On the 25th of March Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church
commemorates the Great Feast Day of the ANNUNCIATION
OF OUR MOST HOLY LADY, THE THEOTOKOS AND
Apolytkion of the Feast
TODAY is the fountainhead of our salvation and the manifestation of
the mystery which was from eternity. The Son of God becometh the
Virgin’s Son, and Gabriel announceth the Good Tidings of grace; for
this cause, let us cry to the Mother of God with him: Rejoice, thou
who art full fo grace, the Lord is with thee.
Kontakion Hymn. Plagal of Fourth Tone
WHEN the bodiless one learned the sacred command, in haste he
came and stood before Joseph’s dwelling, and spake unto the
Maiden who knew not wedlock: The One Who hath bowed the
Heavens by His descent is held and contained unchanging wholly
in thee. Seeing Him receiving the form of a servant in thy womb.
I stand in awe and cry to thee: Rejoice, thou Bride unwedded.
The ANNUNCIATION is the Great Mystery of the INCARNATION of God the Logos/Word. It is one of the Mother of God celebrated by the Holy Orthodox Church. The narrative reveals one of the most important events in world history, THE INCARNATION OF THE ETERNAL Son of God. Saint Photios (+ 810-895 A.D.) remarks that "THIS FESTIVAL IS THE BEGINNING OF ALL THE OTHER FESTIVALS, IN THAT IT GIVES US THE CONTRACT FOR HEAVENLY COMMERCE, ENRICHES THE WORLD WITH THE INVIOLATE WEALTH OF THE LORD’S ADVENT, AND BOTH EFFECTS THE CLEANSING OF OUR HUMAN FRAME AND OFFERS US THE ENJOYMENT OF THE UNDEFILED GOODS; …FOR TODAY, THE VIRGIN, ON BEHALF OF OUR HOLY RACE, IS BEING BETROTHED TO THE COMMON Lord. Verily, the Betrothal of the Ever-Virgin IS THE FOUNDATION AND GROUNDWORK OF OUR SALVATION… With good reason does humanity bear itself proudly and rejoice; for upon receiving the news of a marriage contract with the Lord, it casts off the shameful yoke of slavery."
Today Is Revealed They Mystery From Al Eternity
On this day of the Annunciation, the Logos/Word of God entered mankind in a way hitherto unexampled: The Father sent the Son; the Son was made flesh BY THE POWER AND OPERATION OF THE SPIRIT. "The Co-Eternal Logos/Word of the Father without beginning, not being parted from the things on High, has now DESCENDED HERE BELOW, in His Infinite compassion taking pity upon fallen men; and ASSUMING THE POVERTY OF ADAM, He HAS PUT ON A FORM THAT IS ALIEN TO Him."
In the Dismissal Hymn (Apolytikion) of the Feast, we chant: "Today is the fountainhead of our salvation and the manifestation of the mystery which was from eternity. The Son of God becometh the Virgin’s Son, and Gabriel proclaimeth the Good Tidings of grace: wherefore, we also cry to the Theotokos with him: ‘Rejoice, thou who hast been shown grace, the Lord is with thee."
Saint Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons (+ 130-200 A.D.), comments that "just as Adam had been created by the Logos/Word of God from the unworked and virgin earth, so also the Logos/Word of God CREATED FLESH FOR HIMSELF FROM A VIRGIN WOMB when the Son of God became the New Adam, so as to correct the Fall into sin of the first Adam."
Saint Theophanes the "Branded" and Poet (+ 1381 A.D.), in a hymn from the feast, chants: "Today is revealed the mystery that is from all eternity. The Son of God becomes the Son of Man, that, sharing in what is worse, He may make me share in what is better. In times of old Adam was once deceived: He sought to become God [Genesis 3:5], but received not his desire. Now God becomes man, that He may make Adam god. Let creation rejoice, let nature exult: For the Archangel stands in fear before the Virgin and, saying to her ‘Rejoice,’ he brings the joyful greeting whereby our sorrow is assuaged. O Thou Who in Thy merciful compassion wast made man, our God, glory to Thee!"
Rejoice, O Vessel Of Rejoicing, Through Whom
Our First Mother’s Curse Is Utterly Dispelled!"
Saint Kyril of Jerusalem (+ 318-386 A.D.) continues the Eve-Mary parallel: "Through Eve, yet a virgin, came death, there was need that through a virgin, or rather from a virgin, life should appear; that as the serpent deceived the one, so Gabriel should bring the Good News to the other."
Saint John Chrysostom (+ 354-407 A.D.) put the Ever-Mary parallel pithily when he wrote that Christ had triumphed by the very weapons that the devil had used. "A virgin, the wood, and death were the symbols of our defeat. The virgin was Eve, for she had not yet known her husband; the wood was the tree…And behold, a second time, a virgin, the wood, and death! The symbols of defeat have become the symbols of victory. For Mary is in the place of Eve."
The Prophets Speak
Let us now hear the renowned hymnographers Saint John of Damascus (675-749 A.D.), Saint Theophanes, and Basil the monk bring forward the prophets of the Old Testament, who spoke of the Virgin.
In the "Book of Exodus, the bush and the fire showed a strange marvel to Moses, the initiate in sacred things (Exodus 3:2). Seeking its fulfillment in the course of time, he said, ‘I shall observe it brought to pass in the pure Virgin."
"O Prophet Isaiah, prophecy to us: Who is the Virgin that shall conceive" [Isaiah 7:14]. Through her did the Lord go; from her did the Most High come forth, yet left her still sealed, delivering our life from corruption." "Daniel called thee a spiritual mountain; Gideon saw thee as a fleece [Judg. 6:38); and David called thee sanctuary [Psalm 95:6]; another called thee gate [Ezekiel 44:2]. And Gabriel, in his turn, cries out to her: "Rejoice thou who has been filled with grace, the Lord is with thee" (Luke 1:28).
The Archangel Gabriel Sent By God Almighty
Let us listen to the hymns of the feast which characterize the Archangel Gabriel as "the greatest and most godlike of the Spiritual Powers, shining with heavenly brightness, who, with the Hosts on High gazes upon the Light of the Threefold Sun, comes to the Virgin to announce to her the glad tidings."
The Archangel himself, "ever filled with Light, does the will and fulfills the decrees of the Almighty." As one of the Chief Leaders, to him alone, "was entrusted the Great Mystery, till then UNKNOWN TO THE ANGELS AND HID FROM ALL ETERNITY. Coming to Nazareth, thou (Gabriel) hast not dared to impart thy message to any except the pure Virgin alone."
The New Eve
Saint Photios comments: "When thou hearest of favor, O man, think not that this gift was granted to the Virgin in vain, nor consider the present as an empty honor. For the Virgin found favor with God because she had made herself worthy before he Creator, because, having adorned her soul with the fairness of purity, she had prepared herself as an agreeable habitation of Him Who by His Logos/Word had established the heavens [Psalm 32:6]. She found favor with Him not only because she had kept her virginity inviolate but also had been sanctified to God AS A LIVING AND UNQUARRIED TEMPLE. She was built for the King of Glory, for the stainlessness of her body, the exceeding splendor of her virginity, her undefiled chastity, the great purity of her disposition, and her soul unwavering to sin and clinging to the best." (Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)
(To be continued)
"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