What Shall We Offer to the Virgin?

by St. Photios the Great

Such things the archangel was saying, drawing the spotless maiden to assent. But to this what was the reply of the honored virgin, the heavenly chamber, the holy mountain, the sealed fountain, kept for Him only who had sealed it?

“Since,” says she, “thou hast clearly explained that the Holy Ghost shall come upon me, I no longer demur, I no longer object.

Be it unto me according to thy word (Lk. 1.38).

If I am judged worthy for the Lord, I will gladly serve His will. If the Builder desires the thing built to become a temple to the Builder, let Him construct a house unto Himself as He has pleased. If the Creator rests on His creature, let Him mold in me His flesh as He knows how and wishes.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it unto me according to thy word (Lk. 1.38).

Let thy words be unto me fulfilled in the act. Let thy words be unto me in accordance with the deeds.”

The holy and uncorrupted Virgin for her part, having shown in such words her obedience to the Lord’s ambassador, put an end to the conversation. As for us, what shall we offer to the Virgin? What words of praise shall we weave for her? What other, than those whose beginning Gabriel has first provided to us, saying,

“Hail much-graced one, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb” (Lk. 1.28, 41).

Hail, because we see the sun of righteousness rising out of thee, illuminating both the heavenly and the earthly order, driving away the murk of error, and irradiating the universe with the splendor of Grace. Hail, much-graced one, because having raised for us without husbandry the soul-nourishing grain, thou hast destroyed the seeds of the soul-corrupting growth. Hail, because thou hast brought to all of us the ambrosia of the life-giving bread, baked in thy flaming womb as in an oven, having removed like yeast the pest of the death-giving food. Hail, because thou hast made the tree of life bear fruit for us, which withers the offshoots of the tree of decay and yields the sweetness of knowledge. Hail, much-graced one, because thou hast stored away the pearl of great price, conveying the wealth of salvation to the ends of the universe. Blessed art thou among women, because thou hast requited the discomfiture of woman’s transgression, having turned the reproach of deceit into a laudation of the sex; because in thee, a virgin, He who first molded Adam out of virgin earth, today remolds man from thy virginal blood; because, having woven the fleshy garment of the Word, thou hast covered up the nakedness of the first-formed. Why should I enumerate each count? Hail, much-graced one, because super-human things were wrought in thee, and the blessing of all good things has bloomed for us through thy pregnancy.

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~St. Photius of Consantinople, Homily V. The Annunciation, 6-7

HT

 

 

 

About Fr. John A. Peck

Director of the Preachers Institute, priest in the Orthodox Church in America, award-winning graphic designer and media consultant, and non-profit administrator.
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