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Contemplate the All-Holy Virgin Mary:
    St Nikolai, pray for us!
  1. How she served God for eleven years in the Temple in humility, obedience and devotions;
  2. How she served God in her chamber in Nazareth in humility, obedience and devotion;
  3. How in humility, obedience and devotion she received the Divine Annunciation from the Archangel Gabriel.
Contemplation for 22 March from The Prologue of Ohrid by St Nikolai Velimirovic (© 2002 Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Western America)
St Nikolai, Pray to God for us!

T HE FEAST of the Annunciation of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ to the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary by the Archangel Gabriel. Salvation dawns on us. The Lady waits in "humility, obedience and devotion" and we - with all of creation - await her response to the Archangel's greeting. God say not, "THOU SHALT" but rather "Wilt thou..." for man, even in his imperfection can say no, despite what the heretics - and Astrologers and other Pagans - teach. We are not at God's whim and mercy, but rather, by our will, at His service.

The Canon for today contains much to think about and meditate on. It is sung as a dialogue between the Ever-Virgin Theotokos and the Archangel. So it is in our salvation - a synergistic conversation that needs the will and participation of both God and man to work.

The Archangel said: I cry out to thee in gladness: incline thine ear and listen to me as I tell thee of God's conception without seed. For thou, Most Pure One, hast found favour before the Lord, such as no other woman hast ever found.

The Theotokos said: Angel, help me to understand the meaning of thy words! How shalt what thou sayest come to pass? Tell me clearly: how shall I, a virgin maid, conceive? And how shall I become the mother of my Maker?

The Archangel said: It seems that thou thinkest I speak words deceitfully; and I rejoice at thy prudence. But take courage, o Lady! For when God wills, strange wonders are easily accomplished!

The Theotokos said: There is no more prince from Judah's line, but the time is at hand when Christ shall appear. He is the hope of the Gentiles. But make plain to me, how I, a virgin, shall bear Him?

The Archangel said: Thous seekest to know from me the manner of thy conceiving, o Virgin, but this is beyond all interpretation! The Holy Spirit shall overshadow thee in His creative power, and shall make this come to pass!

The Theotokos said: When she accepted the suggestion of the serpent, my mother Eve was banished from divine delight. Therefore I fear thy strange greeting, for I take care that I not slip.

The Archangel said: I am sent as God's messenger to disclose the divine will to thee. Why art thou afraid of me, Undefiled One? I rather am afraid of thee! Why dost thou stand in awe of me, o Lady, who stand in reverent awe of thee?

The Theotokos said: I have learned from the prophet who foretold in ancient times of the coming of Emmanuel, that a certain holy virgin should bear a child. But I long to know how the nature of mortal men shall undergo union with the Godhead.

The Archangel said: The bush that burned with fire and yet remained unconsumed disclosed the mystery that shall come to pass in thee. For after child-birth, thou shalt remain ever-virgin, pure maiden, full of grace.1

The Theotokos said: Tell me truly, o Gabriel, herald of the truth, shining with the radiance of almighty God: how shall my purity remain untouched, and I bear in my flesh the bodiless Word?

The Archangel said: I stand before thee in fear, as a servant before his mistress, and I am afraid to look at thee now in my awe, o maid. In his good pleasure the Word of God shall descend upon thee, as dew upon the fleece.

The Theotokos said: I cannot understand the meaning of thy words! For there have often been miracles: wonders worked by the might of God, symbols and figures contained in the law, but never has a virgin borne a child without knowing a man!

The Archangel said: Thou art amazed, all-blameless virgin; and the wonder that comes to pass in thee is amazing indeed: for thou alone shall receive in thy womb the King of All who is to become incarnate. It is thee who are prefigured by the words and dark sayings of the prophets and by the symbols of the law!

The Theotokos said: How can He Whom nothing can contain, upon Whom no one is able to gaze, dwell in the womb of a virgin whom He Himself has formed? And how shall I conceive God the Word, who with the Father and the Spirit, has no beginning?

The Archangel said: He who promised thy forefather David, that of the fruit of his body He would set upon the throne, He it is who has chosen thee, the only pride of Jacob, as His spiritual dwelling place!

The Theotokos said: Receiving thy glad tidings, o Gabriel, I am filled with divine joy. For thou speakest to me of a joy that has no end!

The Archangel said: Divine joy is given to thee, Mother of God! All creation cries to thee: rejoice, Bride of God! For thou alone, pure virgin, were foreordained to be the Mother of the Son of God!

The Theotokos said: May the condemnation of Eve now be brought to naught through me, and through me, may her debt be repaid this day. Through me may the ancient account be rendered up in full.

The Archangel said: God promised to thy forefather Abraham that the Gentiles would be blest in his seed, pure lady; and through thee today the promise receives fulfillment.

The Theotokos said: Thou bringest me good tidings of divine joy: that Immaterial Light, in His abundant compassion, will be united to a material body.and now thou criest out to me: all-pure one, blessed is the fruit of thy womb!

The Archangel said: Rejoice, lady; rejoice, most pure virgin! Rejoice, God-containing vessel! Rejoice, candlestick of the light, the restoration of Adam, and the deliverance of Eve! Rejoice, holy mountain, shining sanctuary! Rejoice, bridal chamber of immortality!

The Theotokos said: The descent of the Holy Spirit has purified my soul; it has sanctified my body: it has made me a temple containing God, a divinely adorned tabernacle, a living sanctuary, and the pure Mother of Life.

The Archangel said: I see thee as a lamp with many lights; a bridal chamber made by God! Spotless maiden, as an ark of gold, receive now the Giver of the Law, who through thee has been pleased to deliver mankind's corrupted nature!

The Archangel said: Hear me, pure virgin maid; let Gabriel tell thee the counsel of the Most High that is ancient and true! Make ready to receive God, for through thee the Incomprehensible comes to dwell with mortal men. Therefore I cry rejoicing: all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord!

The Theotokos said: All mortal thought is overwhelmed! Answered the virgin, as it ponders the strange wonders thee tell me. I am filled with joy at thy words, and yet, I am afraid. I fear lest thou deceivest me, as Eve was deceived, and lead me far from God. But behold, thou criest out: all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord!

The Archangel said: See, thy fear is resolved! Gabriel answered to this. thou hast said well that this matter is hard to grasp. Obey then, the words of thy own lips: do not doubt as though it were deceitful, but believe in this thing as the very truth. For I cry rejoicing: all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord!

The Theotokos said: Childbirth comes from mutual love: such is the law that God has given to men. So replied the one who is above reproach! I do not know at all the pleasure of marriage. How then do thou sayest that I shall bear a child? I fear that thou art speaking in guile. But behold, thou criest out: all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord!

The Archangel said: Holy Virgin, replied the angel, thou tellest me of the usual manner in which men are born. But I tell thee of the birth of the True God! In ways that He alone knows, beyond words and understanding, He shall take flesh of thee. Therefore, I cry rejoicing: all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord!

The Theotokos said: Thou appearest to me to speak the truth, answered the virgin. For thou hast come as an angel messenger, bringing joy to all. Since then I am purified in soul and body by the Spirit, be it unto me according to thy word: may God now dwell in me. I cry aloud to Him with thee: all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord!

1 In the teachings of , as contained in her hymns and readings, despite what certain modernists have writen, the Church clearly names Mary as ever-Virgin, both before and after her childbirth. (back)

Huw Raphael | 2005.03.25:0130 (@354) | Contemplation
3 comments | link


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From: Christopher | 2005.03.25:1435 (@899)

Thanks for posting this. I can't believe I almost forgot the Feast of the Annunciation. I wonder, in the year Christ was actually crucified, when this day fell.

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From: Ian | 2005.03.25:1652 (@995)

Christopher, there was (is?) a Western tradition that the dates of the Annunciation and Passion occurred on the same day of the year. John Donne wrote his poem, "The Annunciation and Passion", when the days co-incided as they did this year in the Western calendar, and makes reference to this belief.

Huw: thank you for sharing. The poetry of the Orthodox services infinitely move me. Such depth, detail, and of course Truth. Thanks.

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From: Ian | 2005.03.25:1707 (@004)

I popped over to Occidentalis [] after reading this blog, and he talks in wondrous detail about the way the Church [both Eastern and Western, so I was in error above -- sorry] viewed the dating of the Annunciation and the Passion, and the way they are linked.

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