Thursday, March 25, 2010

Feast of the Annunciation


In the Russian language this holy day is called Blagovescheniye - "the announcement of glad tidings," because this was the first time that the glad tidings of the coming of the Savior were proclaimed to the world. Annunciation generally falls during the Great Lent, but it is of such great importance that it is still celebrated even if it coincides with Holy Friday or Pascha. When the Annunciation falls on the exact date of Pascha the two feasts are celebrated and it is called Kyriopascha.

When Mary became of age, according to Hebrew custom of the time, she could no longer stay at the Temple, but had to either return to her parents or marry. Since Joachim and Anna were dead, and Mary had given a vow of virginity to the Temple's High Priest, it was decided to betroth her to a distant relative who would be able to protect and care for her. She, therefore, went to live in Nazareth with Joseph, who was a carpenter.

Here according to tradition, while Mary was reading from the prophet Isaiah about the birth of the Messiah to a virgin, the angel Gabriel appeared to her. "And the angel came in unto her and said, "Hail, thou who art most fully favored, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women.' And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying and cast about in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, 'Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favor with God. 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.' Then said Mary unto the angel, 'How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?' And the angel answered and said unto her, 'The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. Therefore also that Holy Being who shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.' .And Mary said, 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to thy word." And the angel departed from her" (Luke 1: 28-38).


My soul doth magnify the Lord.
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid;
for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Because he that is mighty,
hath done great things to me;
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is from generation unto generations,
to them that fear him.
He hath shewed might in his arm:
he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat,
and hath exalted the humble.
He hath filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath received Israel his servant,
being mindful of his mercy:
As he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his seed for ever.


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