The Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos

The Gospel reading of the Archangel Gabriel

The Annunciation (fresco). Vysoki Decani Monastery (Kosovo, Serbia), 14th c. The Annunciation (fresco). Vysoki Decani Monastery (Kosovo, Serbia), 14th c.   

Luke 1:24–38

The Sun is reflected in pure waters, and heaven is reflected in a pure heart.

God the Holy Spirit has many habitations in this vast universe, but a pure human heart is the habitation of His greatest joy. It is His true habitation, and all others are only His workshops.

The human heart can never be empty; it is always filled—either with hell, or with the world, or with God. The contents of the heart depends on the purity of the heart.

Once the human heart was filled only with God; it was the mirror only of divine majesty, a harp made only to praise God. Once it truly was in God’s hands, and was out of danger. But when man in his madness took it into his own hands, many beasts attacked the human heart, and from this began the state, which, if you look from within, is called the slavery of the human heart; but if you look from without, is called the history of the whole world.

Not having the strength to hold on to his heart with his own hands, man has obscured it with the beings and things around him. But no matter what man has used to cover his heart, it has only soiled and harmed it.

O poor human heart, the property of many illegal owners, the pearl among swine! How stony you have become from your long slavery, how you have dimmed from such darkness! God Himself had to come down in order to free you from slavery, in order to save you from darkness, to heal you from the leprosy of sin and take you into His hands once again.

God’s descent to people is the most dauntless act of divine love—divine love for mankind, the most joyous tidings for the pure of heart, and the most unbelievable for the impure of heart.

Like a pillar of fire in the deepest darkness was God’s descent to man. And the story of this descent by God to man begins with the angel and the Virgin, with a conversation between heavenly purity and earthly purity.

When an impure heart converses with the impure of heart, it is war. When an impure heart converses with the pure of heart, it is likewise war. Only when a pure heart converses with the pure of heart, it is joy, peace, and wonder.

The Archangel Gabriel was the first herald of man’s salvation, or of God’s miracle; for man’s salvation was not without God’s miracle. The Most Pure Virgin Mary was the first to hear these glad tidings, and the first of all human beings to tremble from fear and joy. Heaven was reflected in her heart like the sun in pure waters; the Lord was able to bow His head beneath her heart and clothe Himself in flesh—the Creator of the new world and Renewer of the old world. Today’s Gospel reading speaks of this.

And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men. In those days—in what days? In the days before the great day of Christ’s nativity. When the fullness of time had come; when all the great prophecies had caught up with each other in their fulfillment; when the time foretold by Daniel had passed; when there were no more princes from the generation of Judah; when the frail human race had heaved a sigh along with frail nature around him, no longer expecting salvation, neither from man, nor from nature, but from God alone—in that time Elizabeth, wife of Zachariah, conceived. But how is the eldress Elizabeth, Zachariah’s barren spouse, connected with the salvation of the human race? She is connected in that she gives birth to the Forerunner of Christ, who like a warrior will go at the fore and announce the coming of the Great Commander. The barren eldress could only give birth to the herald of salvation, but not the Savior. She was a precise image of the old world, which was in advanced age and barren, not bringing forth harvest or fruit, hungering and thirsting; she was an image of the dried-up world, which, like an old, dead tree, could yet by some miracle become green and tell of the coming of spring, but could in no way bear fruit.

In those times, as in all times, a barren woman felt her reproach, and was ashamed before God, people, and her own self. What is the point of marriage if there are no children? Even paradise could become a place of temptation and destruction for the childless, and even more so, earth. Childless spouses are most of all ashamed of each other. In each others’ eyes they look like the barren fig tree covered with green leaves, and in the depths of their souls they fearfully and secretly feel a curse on themselves. And what is bitterest of all, as in our days, they usually suspect each other of lust and impurity, both voluntarily or involuntarily considering their marriage to be legal lustfulness and impurity—especially if they do not yet know of God and do not feel God’s hand on them. That is why childless marriages are often short, and the happiness in them even shorter. For nothing disappoints people more than fruitless desire, already satisfied over-abundantly. God’s first commandment, Be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28), looms like a mountain over barren spouses, even though they may not even know about it. Although they didn’t know it with their minds, through teachings, they could not but know it with their hearts, through a feeling that has been placed like an indelible mark on every human soul, just as all the other commandments of God. Both Holy Scripture and daily experience of all peoples and all times give us sufficient knowledge of the sorrows of barren spouses.

Nevertheless, in those wondrous days Elizabeth conceived in her old age. “How is that possible?” ask those who only skim the surface of things with their feelings, as upon the ice on a lake, bursting with strength and life. Those who both feel in their soul and confess with their tongues that this world cannot be saved in any other way then by a miracle of God, usually shake their heads and do not recognize it when God’s miracle is made manifest, asking themselves: “How could this be?” If there were no living and omnipotent God, then there could be absolutely nothing, nothing could exist, and nothing at all could happen. Then neither a fertile nor a barren woman could give birth. But since there is a living and omnipotent God, it means that everything is possible; especially since God is not bound by the laws of nature, which He Himself laid down. He binds not Himself with them but others—not in order to limit His mightiness, but in order to make His mercy necessary. It is just the same as an instrument that a man has made with his own hands, which does not limit his work in one way or another, whether using his instrument or not using it. So also the God-created world with its lawful order does not limit God in acting one way or another, according to His mercy and peoples’ needs. As if people gave birth through their own power and not God’s! God is the ultimate Zealot when it comes to life, and He bestows it as He wishes; life is conceived where He wants it, and is not conceived where He doesn’t want it. That is why sometimes, regardless of all the laws of nature, young couples may have no children; while sometimes, against the laws of nature, aged couples have children. The Living God is the only Master of life; and neither nature nor its laws have any power against those over Whom He reigns. Even less power over them have the “healers” and sorcerers to whom barren women often turn for help, not knowing that these “healers” and sorcerers are servants not of the bright divine powers, but of the dark demonic powers.

Man expects a miracle from God, and when the miracle comes he doesn’t believe in it. Nature has become a tree of temptation for man. Having hid himself out of nakedness in the shadow of nature, man would like to have God visit him, but also fears God’s visitation. When God does not visit him he complains, and when He does visit him, he doesn’t recognize it. Just as Adam in Paradise was placed between two trees—of life and of knowledge—so the descendants of Adam are again placed between two trees: God as the Tree of Life, and nature as the tree of knowledge. So now as it was then, man’s freedom, obedience, and humility are tested. Let man’s wisdom be tested. Let man’s heart also be tested. Let man’s will be tested. For, if there were no temptations there would be no freedom. And were there no freedom, there would not be people as people in the world, but instead two types of rocks: immoveable rocks and moveable rocks.

All of these simple and clear truths, which earthly-minded souls do not and cannot know due to their spiritual vision having been obscured by sin, were known by one simple but righteous eldress—Elizabeth. That is why she was not surprised when she conceived in her old age, but immediately gave the ready and only reasonable explanation for her unexpected pregnancy: Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me. And why? She doesn’t yet know, but in her humility she doesn’t dare to think about how rare and great will be the fruit of her womb. She does not know of the lion’s role in the history of man’s salvation that will be given her son—the Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist. And she does not know the depths of God’s care, thought through to the end of time, and does not yet penetrate how God noiselessly brings about this care through His servants and handmaidens; noiselessly and unhurriedly, yet unhindered and irresistibly. She only knows of one modest and touching reason for God’s good will towards her: Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days, she says, wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men. She explained God’s miracle as a sign of God’s mercy to her. And this is the truth, but not all of it. If she were to explain this miracle as a sign of God’s mercy towards the whole old world, which was barren, then she would have said it all. By this miracle God prepared another, greater miracle, by which He wanted to take away the reproach among angels from the whole barren human race.

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. Here is meant the sixth month of Elizabeth’s confinement, or the sixth month from the conception of St. John the Baptist. Why in the sixth month? Why not in the fifth, or the seventh? Because the creation of man took place on the sixth day, after the creation of all nature. Christ is the Renewer of all creation. He came as the New Creator and as the New Man. All is new in Him. Throughout this new creation, John is the Forerunner of Christ basically in the same way as all nature was the forerunner of the old Adam at God’s first creation. John represents before the Lord Jesus Christ all earthly creation together with the old man—only having repented of it. He goes before the Lord on behalf of the human race as the penitent and preacher of repentance. Furthermore, this six month, in which the infant John leap in his mother’s womb, corresponds to the sixth period of time, when the Savior was born, and the sixth seal in the Revelation of Apostle John the Theologian (Rev. 6:12).

Thus, in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God. In the great drama of the first creation, the angels appear first of all: In the beginning God created heaven and earth (Gen. 1:1). By heaven is meant the all the ranks of angels in the heavenly hierarchy. Thus, at the very beginning of the great drama of the new creation, again the angels appear first. An angel through the lips of the prophet Daniel discerned the time when the King of kings would be born; an angel through the lips of the prophet Isaiah and other prophets stated how he would be born; an angel informed the high priest Zachariah of birth of the Forerunner; and an angel now also informs of the birth of the God-man Himself. When the God-man is born, the angelic hosts sing hymns over the Bethlehem manger. Every creation is a joy for God, for God does nothing out of necessity or by force, as certain gloomy philosophical teachings and pagan fable-religions assert. Every creation is joy for God, and God loves to share this joy with others. For joy in purity and out of love is the only thing in heaven or on earth that does not decrease by being shared but rather grows—if it is even possible to speak of the growth of joy out of love concerning God, the Original Source of both joy and love. Therefore, having created the angels at the first creation, God immediately makes them co-laborers in the governance of Paradise and all that was created in Paradise. It is the same in the New Creation: Before Christ the New Man go the angels; at the establishment of His Kingdom the Lord immediately takes the apostles as His co-laborers, and then also other persons who labor together with Him not only while abiding on earth, in earthly life, but even after their bodily death. And to this day, God has as His co-laborers the holy hierarchs, martyrs, and all others who were made worthy and are being made worthy of this.

But to whom was the great Archangel Gabriel sent? (“The warrior was sent to tell of the King’s mystery—the mystery that is known through faith, and not revealed by experience; the mystery that it is meet to worship, and is not measured by the human mind; the mystery that can be explained by God’s wisdom, and not human wisdom.”—St. John Chrysostom, “Homily on the Annunciation”.) To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The great archangel of God appears to the Virgin, for through a pure, a Most Pure Virgin must pass and come the Beginning of the new world, the New Creation. The new world should be immaculateness itself, purity itself, in counterweight to the old, decayed world, which became impure due to its stubborn disobedience to its Creator. The Virgin must serve as the gate through which the Savior of the world will come into the world as to His workshop and habitation; a Virgin, and not a wife; for no matter how exalted in soul a wife may be, she is bound to the old world and old creation, being bound to her husband. And therefore she is not free from worldly desires and worldly attachments. That is why she was not a wife but a Virgin—pure, Most Pure, perfectly dedicated to the One God and separated from this world in her heart. Such a Virgin grew bodily in the corrupted world like a lily on a dunghill, while remaining untouched by the world’s decay.

This chosen Virgin was espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David, her kinsman. Why was she betrothed? God’s Providence established it this way in order to protect her from the mockery of the demons and men. If She had given birth without having been espoused, who could have believed that Her Son was not illegitimate? And what earthly judge would have spared her from the strictness of the law? God’s Providence did not want to bring this calamity upon His Chosen One, or a serious temptation upon people, and therefore He ordered it thus, to hide the Virgin and her giving birth behind the guise of espousal. (“If Christ Himself hid many things by calling Himself the Son of Man and not revealing everywhere His oneness in essence with the Father, then why should it be surprising if by having prepared a certain wondrous and great mystery, He hid this also?”—St. John Chrysostom. “Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew.)

Why was the man called specifically Joseph? In order to remind us of the wondrous and chaste Joseph, who in the terribly depraved Egypt preserved his body and soul pure; and also to strengthen the conscience of the faithful in the faith, that the fruit of the Virginal womb of the Mother of God is truly from the Holy Spirit, and not from an earthly, passionate man.

And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.1 The new creation is joy to God and people; therefore it is revealed by the tidings, hail (in the Greek and Slavonic, the word is more precisely, rejoice—a form of greeting). With this word begins the drama of the new creation. This is the first, beginning word that sounded when the veil of the great mystery began to lift. Gabriel calls the Virgin Mary full of grace, for her soul, like a temple, was filled with the life-creating gifts of the Holy Spirit, heavenly fragrance, and heavenly purity. People are graceless whose souls are closed to God and open only to the earth, and therefore they smell like earth, sin, and death. Blessed art Thou among women. Whoever is with the Lord is also with blessing. God’s distance from man is a curse, and God’s closeness to man is a blessing. Of course, it is clear to those who have an understanding of God’s love for mankind that God would never distance Himself from man if man did not first distance himself from God. The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ into the world manifests this limitless love that God has for man. And if man has created space between himself and God, behold, God nevertheless is the first to come closer to man in order to build a bridge over that space. A woman was the first to place an abyss between man and God. This Woman becomes the bridge over that abyss. Eve first fell into sin, and in bright Paradise at that, where everything was in place to prevent her from sinning; Mary first conquered all temptation, and in the dark world at that, where everything is in place to push one into sin. Therefore the weak-willed Eve gave birth to her firstborn on earth, the fratricidal Cain; while the ascetical laborer Mary gave birth to the Ascetical Laborer of all ascetical laborers, Who brought out of the dungeon of sin and death the fratricidal human race—the race of the disobedient and impure Eve.

And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. Like a child! Mary is a true child. The Lord said, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:3). This world of passions and passionateness quickly ages a person. Our childhood is very short, and in these times it is becoming shorter and shorter. Who can be converted and become a child once more? Mary was and remained a young maiden all her life in chasteness and simple-heartedness, in fear of God and obedience to God. Didn’t She enter into the Kingdom of Her Son even before His preaching on the Kingdom? Behold, the Kingdom of God was within Her (cf. Lk. 17:21)! Like a child, she was troubled at the appearance of the angel; like a child did She also contemplate what manner of salutation this should be. There is nothing artificial, devious or simulated in her, but all is childlike and simple, chaste, clear, and straightforward.

The great Gabriel, present at the creation of man at the beginning of time and having the power to see through the human soul, saw the troubled thoughts of the Most Pure Virgin more clearly than we can see a body. Thus, seeing her troubled soul, he hastened to calm it with these touching words: Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. Fear not, Child! Fear not, grace-filled Daughter of God! Fear not, most blessed of all mortals, for God’s blessing will descend through Thee upon the whole race of man! Fear not, for Thou hast obtained grace from God. (The God-inspired St. Andrew of Crete, in penetrating the thoughts of the great archangel, explains the Annunciation of the Most Holy Virgin thus: “Fear not, O Mary! Thou has found grace with God—grace that Sarah did not find, that Rebecca did not feel; Thou hast found grace that neither the glorious Anna nor Phenana her rival found. For although they became mothers, they nevertheless lost their virginity in their childlessness; but in becoming a mother, You also preserve Your virginity unharmed. Thus, be not afraid; You have found God’s grace— a grace that no one besides You has found from eternity”.—Homily on the Annunciation.) These last words are testimony against the assertions of certain Western theologians about the so-called “immaculate conception”—that is, that supposedly the Virgin Mary was conceived and born from her parents without the shadow of the sin of Adam or responsibility for that sin. If that were so, the why would the archangel say: Thou hast found favor (grace) with God? The grace of God, which includes the concept of forgiveness, is first obtained by those in need of it, and secondly by those who seek it. No, the Most Holy Virgin applied gigantic labors in order to exalt her soul to God, and the grace of God met her on this path.

Having calmed Mary’s virginal soul, the winged herald of God now gives Her the main missal from the heavens: And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt 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 for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. God’s herald speaks precisely and in detail. You will conceive in Your womb, that is, in your body; just as the Psalmist uses a similar expression: and renew a right spirit in me (Ps. 50:12).2 By emphasizing in thy womb, the angel wishes to deliberately warn against the false teaching of the heretical Docetists, which supposes that Christ did not have a real body, and was not really born, was not really a physical man, but only a phantom of a man’s body.

The name of Jesus, or in Hebrew, Yeshua (Joshua), is also significant. This name was borne by the son of Nun, who led the Israelites to the promised land and thus forefigured the role and work of Jesus the Savior, Who led the human race to truth and the immortal promised land, to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Everything else the angel said was meant to assure the Virgin that Her Son would be the awaited Messiah. He will be called the Son of the Most High, will receive from God the throne of David, and will reign over the house of Jacob for all ages—all of this, in the awareness of any Israelite and all the more so of the spiritually raised Virgin Mary, related exclusively to the awaited Messiah. The archangel does not say everything about the Lord Jesus Christ to the Virgin, but only what She knows from prophecy and was understandable from Holy Scripture. He does not speak to Her of Jesus’s universal and humanity-wide role, he doesn’t speak of Him as the Savior of all nations and tribes, as the Founder of the spiritual Kingdom, the Judge of all the living and the dead, and even less so as the Word of God, One of the Three eternal Hypostases of the Holy Trinity. If he had told Her this, he would have troubled her even more. She was not all-knowing, despite Her chastity and purity. And She yet has much to learn from Her Son in both time and eternity, preserving all His words in Her heart (cf. Lk. 2:51; Jn. 2:4). The archangel holds strictly to the framework of Israelite understanding. He cites everything organically connected with what is scattered throughout the books of the prophets and what She knows (Is. 9:6–8; 10:16; 11:1; Jer. 25:5; 30:9; Ezek. 34:24; Hos. 3:5; Mic. 5:4; Ps. 131:11; Dan. 2:44; and others). The Lord has sworn in truth to David and will not annul it: Of the fruit of thy body will I set a king upon thy throne (Ps. 131:11). The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel (Is. (:8).

Having heard this message from the heavens, the Virgin Mary in her childlike chasteness and simplicity of soul asks the wondrous visitor, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? (“Well did She ask the angel, ‘How is this possible?’ for She had read before that a Virgin shall conceive in Her womb, but she had not read how she would conceive.”—St. Ambrose [of Milan]). These words express not her disbelief in the archangel’s voice, but only her childlike chasteness and simplicity of soul. What would any of you say to such an announcement received from a most unusual guest? You would say what first came to your mind when your heart began to tremble, right? But the Virgin Mary said nothing superfluous. If her question, let’s suppose, was superfluous for Her, it would not have been so for us. For our sakes Her grace-filled spirit was asking about what we of course would all have asked, since we are under the burden of the laws of nature. To give birth one needs a husband. And where is the husband? That is what any of us would have asked, as we are far from the joy-producing omnipotence of divine freedom, and accustomed to the oppression of natural powers. Thus it was for our sakes that the Virgin asked this question, and we heard the answer from God’ emissary. How does Gabriel answer?

The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. A complete and utterly thorough answer. Where God so wills, the order of nature is overthrown. Nature and its laws literally as if do not exist when the living God works His will and His economy of human salvation. “Grace is not subject to the laws of nature,” writes St. Gregory of Neocaesaria (Homily 1 on the Annunciation). It is the spirit that quickeneth (Jn. 6:63), says the Renewer of all creation Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ. The spirit enlivens indirectly or directly. The Spirit of God directly gave life to Paradise, until the fall. God spake, and it came to be! After the fall, the Spirit gives life indirectly, through created souls and created bodies. This intermediary action of the Spirit we call nature and the laws of nature. But the Spirit of God is the reserved right and unlimited might to give life also directly—according to His will and in accordance with the divine economy of the salvation of mankind. Nevertheless, in giving life in an indirect way, the Spirit is the conceiver and master of life. Nature as it is is only a shadow, a veil, through which the Spirit works. However, in cases of intermediary activity of the Spirit there can be various degrees—some effects more direct, others more indirect. Thus it happens with fertile and with infertile women. Indirectly, but less indirectly is how it happened with the aged Elizabeth, as also with the mothers of Isaac, Samson, and Samuel. For conception in aged women must nevertheless be called the direct action of the Spirit, because all fertile and infertile women, beginning from Eve, are participants in sin, which is bound up with this world of desires and lusts, to a greater or lesser extent. The only conception that happened through inspiration [lit. the inbreathing of the spirit], or the action of the Spirit of Life is the conception of the Most Pure Maiden Mary. There has never been such an occurrence throughout the entire history of the world from Adam to Christ. There is only one such instance throughout all times and in all eternity. Both of them are related to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

For with God nothing shall be impossible [Slav.: “For with God no word remains powerless]. This means that every word of God always fully comes to pass. Also through the God-inspired prophet Isaiah, God said, Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son (Is. 7:14). And behold, it is now come to pass. From the creation of the world, it has been sufficient for God to say a thing once. And God spake, and it came to be! The words of the Lord are pure words, silver that is fired, tried in the earth, brought to sevenfold purity (Ps. 11:7).

The Virgin Mary did not doubt the Lord’s words announced to her by the angel. For if she had doubted, as the priest Zachariah doubted, she would have been punished, as Zachariah was punished. And although the questions of both Zachariah and Mary to the angel are quite similar, their hearts were nevertheless completely different. And God looks at a man’s heart. Two completely different hearts can pronounce words that appear to be the same.

Hearing out the explanation given her by God’s messenger, the Humblest of humble virgins concludes Her conversation with the archangel with these touching words: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. She didn’t say, “Behold thy Handmaid, archangel”, but she said, Behold the Handmaid of the Lord, for she knows that the archangel is only the herald of God’s will and that although he is of great might and immortal, he is only the servant of the living God. But on the other hand, She did not say, “Be it unto me according to the Lord’s word”, but be it unto me according to thy word. By this she honors the immortal angelic commander of all the immortal hosts. Meanwhile, both of these thoughts express a great readiness for obedience and utterly complete humility. Such a wise answer could only come from a heart abundantly filled with purity, because in such a heart true wisdom pours forth with the greatest eagerness. In the time of her temptation in Paradise, Eve forgot such language right there and then. For in the hour of her temptation when she bent her ear to satan’s words, her heart was defiled in the twinkling of an eye, and because of her impurity wisdom also departed from her. Eve’s heart was defiled by pride and disobedience, and her mind darkened; from pride and disobedience to God the old world perished, the human race was disfigured, and all of creation became impoverished. The new world will be built upon humility and obedience. The indescribable humility and obedience of the Most Holy Mother of God is surpassed only by Her Son, the Savior and Renewer of all creation, through His immeasurable humility and obedience.

Finally the winged messenger of the Founder of our salvation flew off to the world above, to his immortal brethren. And his annunciation was not only in word, but like every word of God, in deed. The Lord spake, and it came to be. No messenger has ever brought more joyous tidings to the earth, so cursed because of its alienation from God and its alliance with dark satan, than the radiant and wondrous archangel Gabriel. What lips do not praise him, what heart does not give him thanks!

Never has any spring water been such a pure mirror of the sun as the Most Pure Virgin Mary was a mirror of purity. (“O purity, creating joy for the heart and transforming the heart into heaven! O purity, blessed acquisition undefiled by beasts! O purity, abiding in the souls of the meek and humble, and the creator of godly men! O purity, blossoming like a flower in the soul and the body and filling the whole temple with good fragrance!”—St. Ephraim the Syrian, “On Purity”.) The morning light that gives birth to the sun would also be ashamed before the purity of the Virgin Mary, Who gave birth to the Immortal Sun, Christ our Savior. What knee does not bow before Her, what lips do not cry out: “Rejoice, Thou Who art full of grace! Rejoice, Dawn of mankind’s salvation! Rejoice, More Honorable than the Cherubim and more glorious than the Seraphim! Glory to Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, with the Father and the Holy Spirit—the Trinity One in Essence and Undivided, now and ever, and throughout all times, unto the ages of ages. Amen.”

St. Nikolai (Velimirovic)
Translation from the Russian version by Nun Cornelia (Rees)


1 This verse was used from the Douay Rheims version, which more closely parallels the Greek and Slavonic, rather than from the KJV, and therefore makes more sense in this exegesis. Moreover, “full of grace” is how we also hymn the Mother of God in Orthodox English language liturgical practice. —Trans.

2 In the Slavonic, the words “в утробу моей” are used, in this psalm, which means literally, “in my womb”.

See also
The Beginning of Our Salvation The Beginning of Our Salvation
Hieromonk Ignaty (Shestakov)
The Beginning of Our Salvation The Beginning of Our Salvation
A Sermon on the Annunciation to the Most Holy Theotokos
Hieromonk Ignaty (Shestakov)
The Annunciation symbolizes the beginning of our salvation. Therefore, the Church of God depicts this icon [often] on the royal doors, which is the entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Christ Descended That We Might Ascend. A Homily for the Feast of the Annunciation and the Sunday of the Ladder of Divine Ascent Christ Descended That We Might Ascend. A Homily for the Feast of the Annunciation and the Sunday of the Ladder of Divine Ascent
Jesse Dominick
Christ Descended That We Might Ascend. A Homily for the Feast of the Annunciation and the Sunday of the Ladder of Divine Ascent Christ Descended That We Might Ascend
A Homily for the Feast of the Annunciation and the Sunday of the Ladder of Divine Ascent
Jesse Dominick
This is the wondrous love and mercy of our God—before He calls us up to Himself, He comes down to us. And this is the uniqueness of Christianity—it is not man searching for God, as are other religions, but rather, it is God searching out man. God has descended to us and become one of us—Jesus Christ. And because He is perfect God, He also perfected human nature, which allows us to seek perfection and climb the ladder of Divine ascent. This is the essence of salvation—this two-way motion—God loves and moves towards us, so that we can love and move towards Him.
On Obedience. The Annunciation On Obedience. The Annunciation
St. Philaret of Moscow
On Obedience. The Annunciation On Obedience. The Annunciation
St. Philaret of Moscow
And thou, soul, who in a godly manner seekest thy salvation, be taught by the word and example of the most blessed Virgin to what lofty heights we are led, how much is achieved, how perfectly God is pleased by this humble and seemingly obscure virtue,—obedience of faith: that obedience in its high, substantial, spiritual sense, means the subjection of the human will, created and dependent, unto the divine will, creating and sovereign.
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