Thursday, March 25, 2010

Blessed Feast!

Troparion - Tone 4

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!

Kontakion - Tone 8

O Victorious Leader of Triumphant Hosts!
We, your servants, delivered from evil, sing our grateful thanks to you, O Theotokos!
As you possess invincible might, set us free from every calamity
So that we may sing: Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

One of the things that this feast always brings to mind the Akathistos hymn to the Theotokos--one of the most glorious proclamations of the Gospel, the Kingdom of God which is with us now. The Kontakion above is chanted at the beginning and end of it; how odd it is that, this year for New Calendar folks, the hymn was sung last Saturday and Annunciation follows it. Definitely not typical; this will be the only time this century when Pascha falls on April 4th -- the absolute earliest day on which Pascha could occur.

Another thought the feast usually brings up for me is how much it impressed itself on the mind of Fr. Alexander Schmemann, how otherworldly and transcendent the feast was for him. From his journals:
"Sunday night and Monday we celebrated the Feast of the Annunciation--a breakthrough of radieant eternity with the voice of the Archangel. How difficult to preserve the feast, to live by its light! Once the celebration is over, everything contrives to stifle the silence, the peace, the light of the feast and pushes one into the usual hustle." (Wed. 27 Mar 1974)

"Feast of the Annunciation--my most loved of all loved feasts! Standing in the sanctuary during the Vigil listening to these exultant hymns: "...proclaim, O Earth, the news of a great joy; sing, O Heavens, the glory of the Lord," I thought: How could there be problems? Doesn't our whole life consist in accepting and assimilating this joy from on high, in making it ours, in seeing and accepting this joy as eternally new?" (Fri. 25 Mar 1977)
A blessed feast to all who celebrate it today, and may our upcoming journey from Lazarus' Tomb to Christ's be a blessed one.

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