feast of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary comes nine months before
Christmas on the twenty-fifth of March. It is the celebration of the
announcing of the birth of Christ to the Virgin Mary as recorded in
the Gospel of Saint Luke.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent
from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed
to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the
virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Hail,
full of grace, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly
troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of
greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not
be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold,
you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call
his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of
the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of
his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever;
and of his kingdom there will be no end." And Mary said to
the angel, "How can this be, since I have no husband?"
And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon
you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore
the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And
behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived
a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.
For with God nothing will be impossible." And Mary said,
"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according
to your word." And the angel departed from her
The services of the feast of the Annunciation, the Matins and the
Divine Liturgy, stress again and again the joyous news of the salvation
of men in the birth of the Saviour.
Today is the beginning of our salvation, the
revelation of the eternal mystery. The Son of God becomes the
Son of the virgin, as Gabriel announces the coming of Grace. Together
with him let us cry to the Theotokos: Rejoice, O Full of Grace,
the Lord is with you (Troparion).
A special feature of this feast is the Matinal
Canon which has the character of a dialogue between the Archangel
Gabriel and the Virgin Mary. Also among the more popular elements
of the feast is the Magnification which has the form of our own
salutation to the virgin mother with the words of the archangel:
With the voice of the archangel we cry to
Thee, O Pure One: Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with Thee!
The celebration of the Annunciation, therefore,
is the feast of our own reception of the glad tidings of salvation,
and our own glorification of the maiden Mary who becomes the Mother
of God in the flesh.
Because the feast of the Annunciation normally comes during the
season of Great Lent, the manner of celebration varies from year
to year depending upon the particular day on which it falls. If
the feast comes on a weekday of Lent, which is the most common case,
the Divine Liturgy of the feast is served in the evening with Vespers
and thus is celebrated after a full day of total abstinence. When
this happens, the fasting rules for the Liturgy of the Presanctified
Gifts are followed. The Divine Liturgy of the Annunciation is the
only celebration of the eucharistic liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom
allowed on a weekday of Great Lent.