Table of Contents

Contemplations on the Wednesday Theotokia.

Verse 1

All the heavenly multitudes,
Declare your blessedness,
For you are the Second Heaven,
Upon the earth.

It is hard for us to picture such a thing! How many of us can perceive with our minds hosts and hosts of archangels, angels, principalities, thrones, dominions and powers praising a human being! There is no reason for surprise, though, for the Archangel greeted her and said, “Hail” – or by other translations, “Rejoice thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.”

An archangel is saluting her! But how did he know that she is favored, and how did he know to say that she is blessed among women? Because our God made it known among the heavenly and among all nations. If our God Himself looks upon her with favor, how could even but one spiritual being among the heavenly consider not praising her also? How could we not join in and praise her as well?

In her womb dwelt the King of Kings – she was the second heaven upon the earth because of this – because God humbled Himself and dwelt in the womb of the Mother of Life. Because He is God, the heavenly would not cease to praise Him. So the Cherubim and the Seraphim and the angels all bowed before Him, still in her womb, praising Him continually as befits the God of all creation. The very presence of Him in her womb is an honor to her – it is an honor above all comprehension and praise! If His presence honored her, then all the more befitting that the heavenly praise her also. All the more then, should we praise her and say, “Rejoice favored one! Hail to you! For you are blessed among women – the pride of our race!”

Verse 2

The door to the East,
Is the Virgin Mary,
The honored bridal chamber,
For the pure Bridegroom.

The door to the East is the entrance for Salvation – it is the door toward that which is good. A door is a means by which we reach another destination. It is befitting, then, to call Saint Mary this door. For through her, the Lord of Hosts was born so that He might redeem and save us. He used her as His entrance into this world, a blessing and honor incomparable!

If only we, too, were to be doors to others. If only our behavior and lives might reflect the glory of what has come to pass, the glory of His love and Divine dispensation, so that others might through us be drawn also to Him. If only we could learn to be like the Virgin!

The Virgin Mary is the bridal chamber, since she was the place where the Groom dwelt, and also where He espoused our humanity. She contained in her womb the Lord most pure, and she is also the bride!

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Is. 61:10).

The Holy Virgin is the beautiful bride, adorned with the beauty of virtue. Oh that we might also be decorated as such, that we even just struggle for such! The Virgin put on the garment of salvation literally when He dwelt in her womb. So let us struggle to be virtuous and pure, for the Lord chose her for her virginity, virtues, and her spiritual beauty, not for any earthly reasons. Let us struggle for these things, and pray for His aid, so that we too can be found worthy to be His spouses on that last day.

Verse 3 (Chorus)

The Father looked from heaven,
And found no one like you,
He sent His Only-Begotten,
Who came and took flesh from you.

Knowing this, it is amazing that the Holy Virgin had any humility whatsoever. Being the mother of the Messiah was something that all Jewish women dreamed to be. It was their hope of hopes. In fact, having no son was an embarrassment, and having no children at all even worse. It was that very hope that was the reason why Hannah, Samuel’s mother, was mocked and ridiculed – her infertility meant to others that she had not found favor with God, that she could never be the mother of the Anointed One.

The Virgin, somehow, was still humble, despite how “flattering” this news must have been. God the Father looked down and found no one like her. This does not mean that He looked down only at the Virgin Mary’s generation – it means that He looked at all of us, and not a single one of us was worthy of what she was found worthy of! Despite this, she submitted to Him as a handmaid, as a servant. She does not presume herself to be an authority; instead, she still has a servant’s heart. In fact, she is more interested in her cousin, Elizabeth, than herself – and runs over to see and serve her!

What a lesson to us in humility, that none of us were seen by God to be as beautiful as her. What a great lesson to us in humility that this greatest of women did not have a spot of pride in her. What a lesson to us in humility, that this woman in her greatness served others instead of herself. What a lesson to us, that the humbling of God – His Incarnation – took place in the womb of the most humble of women. Humility Himself was brought forth from a humble woman; Salvation came not from pride.

Verse 4

They spoke of you with honor,
O City of God,
For you are the dwelling place,
Of all the joyful.

They spoke of you indeed, O Virgin, and they are:

a) The Prophets
“This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut. Only the prince, because he is a prince, may sit in it to eat food before the Lord; he shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gate, and shall go out by the same way” (Ez. 44:2-3).

“Look, the virgin is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel” (Is. 7:14).

b) The Heavenly
“And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it” (Gen. 28:12)

c) The Apostles

“But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart” (Lk. 2:19).
“All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers” (Acts 1:14). It suffices that all four Gospels speak of her!

d) The Fathers
“If it is made possible, I intend to come to you in order to see the faithful gathered in Jerusalem, and especially the Mother of Jesus: they say of her that she is honorable, affable, and arouses wonder in all, and all wish to see her. But who would not wish to see the Virgin and to converse with her who bore the true God… With us she is glorified as the Mother of God and the Virgin full of grace and virtue. They say of her that she is joyful in troubles and persecutions, does not grieve in poverty and want, and not only does not get angry with those who offend her but does good to them still more… All who see her are delighted” (St. Ignatius, disciple of Saint John).
“Come, let us wonder at the virgin most pure, wondrous in herself, unique in creation, she gave birth, yet knew no man; her pure soul with wonder was filled, daily her mind gave praise in joy at the twofold wonder: her virginity preserved, her child most dear. Blessed is He who shone forth from her!” (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

“Heaven did not conceive Him nor bear Him nor suckle Him, but she bore, embraced, raised Him and to her belongs a blessing!” (St. Jacob of Serug).

All these and more spoke of the Blessed Virgin, we are compelled in humility to do the same – O you who brought forth the joy of all nations!

Verse 5

All the kings of the earth,
Walk in your light,
And the nations in your brightness,
O Mary, the Mother of God.

King David the Psalmist spoke of the Virgin Mother on behalf of the kings and princes of the earth saying: “At your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir” (Ps. 45:9). Truly, she is the Heavenly Queen, adorned in gold, and praised by the angels. No master, governor, king, prince, or ruler can resemble the glory and honor of the heavenly queen. She is the Mother of God, and has found favor with God (Luke 1:30).

We cannot walk in darkness, or else we go astray and not know where we go. Therefore, we need a source of light. The Virgin Mother is a source of light. Through her, we see the living meaning of humility, service, sacrifice, endurance, patience, and above all, utmost submission and love to the Lord God. How awesome are these virtues? How could we not find favor in her as well? As a child learns from his mother, so do we, from the Mother of us all, who has borne to us the Savior.

Therefore, the nations of the earthly and their kings walk in the brightness of your virtues and humility, and join the multitudes of angels and saints in heaven, praising and honoring you, O full of grace, the Ever-Virgin and Theotokos, St. Mary.

Verse 6

Every generation calls you blessed,
And we also worship Him,
To Him you gave birth to,
And we exalt you too.

The Virgin Mother was chosen among the women of humanity. The nations of all ages rejoice with Elizabeth and proclaim saying “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb… Blessed is she who believed” (Lk 1:42, 45). What great faith was this, O Virgin Mother? How could a virgin bear a child? Truly, it is this great faith that has found favor with the Lord God. It is with this faith that you were able to proclaim to the Archangel Gabriel “Behold the maidservant of the Lord,” because you did believe with your heart, mind, and soul that “nothing will be impossible with God” (Lk 1:37).

“Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name…He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy” (Lk. 1:48, 49, 54).

Did the Theotokos say this in a boasting manner, or in concern to herself? Not at all, for she said it with utmost humility. Surely, if she were concerned only of herself, she would not have gone to Elizabeth during her pregnancy, and would not have thought of the salvation of Israel and humanity. Truly, her humility was ever so evident during her service for mankind, to be the Mother of the Messiah, so that He may save us.

Why then did she say this? Because she saw that the Lord had done great things for her, that His Power would overshadow her, and Christ the Savior would be born of her. Indeed, this was the greatest blessing any human could receive, to carry the Son of God. How often do we consider this blessing, when partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ? For in doing so, we also bear Christ in our bodies. Let us then rejoice, as St. Mary did, in receiving Christ in us.

Virgin Mother, your faith and humility found favor with the Lord. You realized and understood the true meaning of the blessing of service. We too, offer a humble service of praise and worship to the Only-Begotten Son of the Father, to whom you gave birth to, and join the generations in exalting and honoring you, O Mother of us all, St. Mary.

Verse 7

You are the light cloud,

That has lead us to,
The rain of the approaching,
Only-Begotten God.

Isaiah prophesied of you, O Virgin Mother, saying, “See, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt” (Is. 19:1). You were likened to a cloud that brings forth rain on the earth. For through you, the Lord descended from heaven upon the earth. By descending from heaven to earth to die for humanity, Christ once again reconciled us with the Father in Heaven, His creation on earth. Through you, O holy Mother, Christ came to save us and reconcile us with the Lord and Creator, who found favor in you.

Water from the clouds falls upon the earth as rain. It fills the rivers and seas, nourishes the lands, and quenches the thirst of the living creatures. Our Lord, the Only-Begotten God whom you have borne, is the source of the living water. It is this living water that fills us, not in the physical sense, but the spiritual. Indeed, we thirst for the living word of the Lord God that nourishes our spirits. We long to taste life with the Lord Himself. Our lives are not filled except with Him. How often do we look to the needs of the body and not the spirit? How often do we choose to quench the thirst and desires of our bodies, and ignore the well being of our spirits? Surely, the Theotokos offered her body for the Lord from her early years in the temple, and lived to quench her spirit, until she became a living temple for the Lord. If it were not so, she would not have been highly favored by the Lord Himself.

Not only were you likened to a cloud, but a light cloud. For the lightness and transparency of this cloud are symbols of your purity. The Lord chose you among the women of humanity, for you indeed remained a Virgin, and consecrated your body for the Lord to dwell in. The purity of your heart was the source of your humility. You accepted the will of the Lord and submitted to His service and will. You did not boast of this great honor, but humbly proclaimed to the Archangel, calling yourself the “maidservant of the Lord.” Surely, you kept the Lord, not only in your body, but in your heart as well. Indeed, you led a life of purity, and for this, you were highly favored. For this, we honor you, and exalt you with the angels and the saints. Intercede for us, O Mother of God, the Pure Theotokos, that He may forgive us our sins.

Verse 8

The Father created you,
And the Holy Spirit came upon you,
And the Power of the Highest,
Overshadowed you.

Surely, the love of the Holy Trinity to the Virgin Mother was no coincidence. Truly she found favor in the Lord, and the work of the Three Persons of the Trinity was evident in the Incarnation.

The Theotokos took to heart the words of Isaiah the Prophet “Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Is. 64:8). If it were not so, she would not have offered herself to the Lord in love and humility, and would not have questioned the power of the Lord. Indeed, she had faith in her Creator and her God, and knew that with God all things are possible. Only the Creator could allow a virgin to be with child. The Father chose her among the women of all generations. He chose her among His Creation, to carry the Only-Begotten Son, the Savior, in her womb. She is highly favored among all creatures, for even the heavenly honor her in heaven as a Queen. How wonderful is this virtue of submission to the will and service of our Creator?

The Lord Christ, the Son, dwelt in your womb for nine months. You became the chosen vessel of the Lord. You became the second heaven, the tabernacle that carried the Lord the Savior in your womb. You loved Him as your God and as your son, and He loved you as His Mother. If it were not so, He would not have proclaimed to John the Beloved while on the Cross: “Here is your mother” (Jn. 19:27). You were the first person He saw when He was born into the world, and you were the last person He saw on the Cross, and He entrusted His disciple to take care of you. You loved your son, and served Him to the Cross. How powerful is this virtue of service and love to the Lord and Savior?

The Holy Spirit came upon, and sanctified you, that the Lord may dwell in you. No other person received this honor in humanity. These gifts not only sanctified your womb, but they overshadowed you. Your purity of heart and body found favor in the eyes of the Lord, and it pleased the Holy Spirit to sanctify you and bring upon you His gifts, that you bear the Son of the Most High. Surely this was no earthly power, for what power can allow a virgin to bear a child? What power can sanctify the body to bear the Son of the Living God? What power can give grace and honor? Indeed, this is the Power of the Most High, the work of the Third Person of the Trinity, who loved you and cherished you. How awesome is this virtue and purity that found favor with God?

Intercede on our behalf O Virgin Mother, to our God, the all Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, that He may have mercy upon our race, and forgive us our sins. Glory is to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Verse 9

For you have given birth,
To the True Word,
The Son of the ever-existing Father,
Who came and redeemed us from our sins.

The Theotokos lived a life of endurance for the Lord, and did so in complete obedience. She accepted to carry the Son of the ever-existing Father in her womb at a young age, knowing that many would question the reasoning behind her conception while betrothed to Joseph, or even mock her. She endured giving birth to her Son, the King of kings, in a manger. She endured the long trip from Bethlehem to Egypt as she carried the new born Christ, protecting Him from Herod. She endured living over three years in Egypt, traveling from one place to the next as she continued to care for the Lord. Above all, she saw her only son grow before her eyes, knowing in her heart that He would one day suffer and die for the sake of the world. Simeon the Prophet proclaimed to the Virgin Mother saying “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Lk. 2:34, 35). How did she endure these words of the prophecy, knowing that the Son, whom she had born, would suffer for the salvation of Israel? How could she live knowing that her Lord and Son would one day die for the sins of humanity?

Indeed, she endured. She watched as the Lord suffered and was mocked. She witnessed her Son, the True Word, scourged and crucified before her eyes as she stood before the Cross. The Prophecy of Simeon was fulfilled, for in piercing the side of her Son, a sword too pierced her own soul, as she cried out saying “The world rejoices in that it has received salvation, while my heart burns as I look at Your crucifixion, which You are enduring for the sake of all, O my Son and my God” (Litanies of Prayer of the Ninth Hour).

The Lord favored St. Mary because she was ready to live this life of endurance for the sake of humanity. The Lord Himself endured, and because she lived a life of purity with God, she too knew how to endure. No human could have taken this upon themselves if the Lord were not with them. The Virgin lived her life for the Lord and knew His ways, and this Angel too proclaimed to her saying “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” She loved the Lord, and endured for Him. How much do we endure and struggle for the Lord? Indeed, our Virgin Mother, the blessed St. Mary, kept this virtue in her life. Intercede for us, O Mother of the True Word, who endured for our sake, to have mercy upon us, and forgive us our sins.

Verse 10

Great is the honor,
Which you are worthy of,
O Gabriel, the messenger angel,
Your face beams with joy.

Most assuredly, the honor given to the Archangel Gabriel soared high and above any gift, compliment, kind gesture, need or want. O Gabriel, you are similar to the eagle that brings food to the nest, so all who are hungry may enjoy freely the food that abounds forever. You spoke of the future, saying that “she shall bear a son,” for the Virgin Mary did not bring forth for Joseph’s sake, but for the sake of the whole world, nor was this grace concerning St. Mary alone, but it was poured out on all. You announced that God did not just recently resolve to do these marvelous things by saying: “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet.” Hence, you were the first step in the fulfillment of the many prophecies concerning our salvation.

Therefore, you are like the one who has dared all things, including reason, and climbed the highest mountain, announcing eternal Victory and Joy. Great is your honor, which you are worthy of, O Gabriel, for you were the one who gave the Greatest “wake-up call” to all mankind. It was by your heavenly appearance to the pure Virgin St. Mary, that the way of our salvation had finally taken way. The ball had started to roll down the hill. The path of our salvation was in full action. Just as a messenger comes to a city announcing the arrival of a king, so you were the messenger announcing the arrival of the King of Peace, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Humanity was in a house but the problem was that all the doors within, were locked. You announced that the Savior would release us from all the bonds of sin. You announced that the perfect Godhead and the perfect Manhood of Christ, united together in one Person, like fire and metal in glowing iron, and that the saints would enjoy the warmth of its heat. You announced the absolute restoration of our lost innocence to its proper place in God. No one other than you was honored with the blessing of proclaiming the salvation of all people, for God took unto Himself all suffering and pains, and was crucified upon the Cross and later rose from the dead. Therefore, “the world is a field, and we are the harvest watered by the Grace of God” (Clement of Alexandria, Paedagogus, 104). O Gabriel, at first we didn’t understand why your face beamed with joy, but now we rejoice with you for we have been freed from all the bonds of sin, bathing in the love of our Savior, saying “You have put gladness in my heart more than when their grain and wine abound” (Ps. 4:7).

Verse 11

For you announced to us the birth,
Of god who came to us,
And you declared to Mary,
The undefiled virgin.

How I thank You, my Father! Your help will surely come…Your help will surely come. You will not leave me in the pit but provide a solution to my poverty. What a privilege to be a child of Yours, whom You love and whom You will help in Your good time! O Gabriel, all things honor you, for you announced that Christ, our God and Friend would come to us, through the Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit, to save us. But from whom will He save us? Perhaps from enemies? Perhaps from thieves? No, but from our sins. Hence, it is clear that it is God who will be born, for it is the attribute of God alone to forgive sins. It was in the beginning that the finite (humanity) had committed a sin against the infinite (God), hence, God Himself had to be incarnated and die for the absolving of this sin. For just as a murderer must receive an equivalent punishment for the great crime that has been committed, our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, had to die on the account of humanity upon the wood of the life-giving Cross.

You announced this great event to all of us by declaring it to our mother, the undefiled Virgin. You asserted strongly but joyfully that she would conceive and be the gate of our salvation. You announced publicly, for the first time that He would come to us… He would come to us not in a glorious way but in the most humble way, making the mountains bow and tremble. Jesus comes to us as a Light to lighten the darkness and as the Prince of Peace to give us peace and drive fear away. You announced that He will draw near to us as our Helper, to help those in distress, for if the thing we dread the most comes to pass, Jesus Christ is on the scene to help us, for that is love’s way. Finally, O Gabriel, you announced the fulfillment of His endless promises at His birth. Then at His death, burial and glorious Resurrection, you announced that redemption is accomplished and that it has become a right of all sinners to receive with faith the bond of freedom from captivity of sin and death and to accept the call to eternal life. Hence, we can say with confidence as perfect as Christ, that there is no alternative to the aid coming down from above. Blessed is he who receives Christ as the coming King of Righteousness.

“The Lord is king! Let the earth rejoice” (Ps. 97:1).

“The Lord is king; let the peoples tremble” (Ps. 99:1).

Verse 12

Saying, “Hail to you O full of grace,
The Lord is with you,
You have found favor,
The Holy Spirit shall come upon you.”

As one who vigorously searches through water, earth, mountain, forest and sand for a great and unique treasure, so the Lord of hosts searched for the purest of treasures, the purest of vessels to bear His Only-Begotten Son, our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He examined, explored, searched within and without, tested, conditioned and finally, determined that you were the sweetest of all His creation, worthy to behold God, the King and majesty of all. For this reason, Archangel Gabriel said: “Hail to you O full of grace, the Lord is with you, You have found favor, the Holy Spirit shall come upon you.” This is no small blessing but one of great magnitude. He saw your dedication, love, service, purity, humility, obedience, selflessness and favored you above all living things. You lived in Christ, for “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:24). He filled you with His grace, which sustains the whole creation and blessed you beyond measure. You realized that life is a continuing struggle for purity of heart, and for this reason you are honored by all the heavenly orders. Despite the struggles, you constantly strived for renewal of heart and insisted that He is the only one who can have the undivided mastery of your heart. You submitted as a faithful servant and He came and ruled as the King of Peace, refreshing all of creation by giving us His life-giving Spirit. We honor you and bless you, for you were the refined chamber that carried the Most High. By grace you have “produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:11).

Verse 13

For the Power of the Highest,
Will overshadow you Mary,
You shall give birth to the Holy One,
The Savior of the whole world.

“Awesome” and “Highly favored” are words we use to hardly describe the depth, the wonder and the importance of the birth of our Lord and Savior, through the blessed Virgin. However, the truth is that your experience and role in the working out of God’s redemptive plan is above all human language and understanding. We cannot express the meticulous details of our salvation, but we thank and glorify Him, for the great love that was shown to us, as rain from heaven. He fully poured out Himself for our sake, as though He was giving the last cup of water to a desert stricken man, whose thirst can only be satisfied with the water given to him by God, the Holy One and the Savior of the whole world. The Power of the Most High nourished us. It was because of you, O Mary, that we were reunited with our Creator. Both Eve and St. Mary were virgins, but whereas the one contravened God’s command and as a result brought forth disobedience and death, the other responded meekly to the Archangel Gabriel and so made the birth of a Redeemer – the Holy One and Savior – possible. Eve, while still a virgin, had proved disobedient and so became the cause of death both for herself and for all mankind, but Mary, also a virgin, obeyed and became the cause of Salvation both for herself and for all mankind. Thus, as the human race was bound fast to death through a virgin, so through a virgin it was saved. Hence, she is our universal mother and because she gave birth to the Holy One, the Savior of the World, her pure womb regenerated men to God and God to men. Therefore, O Mary, you are called the “mother of all living,” for you intercede for us, pleading and asking God, your son, to give eternal life to all His faithful children.

Verse 14

A virginal feast,
Today inspires our tongues,
To give praise to
Mary the Mother of God.

A feast of virgins… what is more beautiful in the eyes of our Lord than a virginal soul – a soul that has kept herself spotless for the sake of the bridegroom? What greater expression of love is there, than to keep spotless the spiritual garment given to us, despite how laborious a task that is? Why do people make such an effort? It is because it is such a small thing to do for the sake of Beauty Himself, “Your anointing oils are fragrant, your name is perfume poured out; therefore the maidens love you” (Song 1:3).

Imagine, then, the joy at this feast, when all the virgins join together and praise the woman who kept not just her soul virginal, but her body as well. Imagine how great her spiritual beauty is to these virgins at the feast – that she was found worthy to contain the Lord of Hosts! Imagine what temptations and trials she must have faced, but endured because of her love for Him! Indeed, she has typified for the virgins what virginity means, for by keeping herself for the Lord, the Lord chose her for Himself. By sacrificing her all for the Lord, the Lord used her in His plan to sacrifice Himself for her and us all. What more inspiration do the virgins need to honor and glorify her?

Oh that we might understand, that we are supposed to be the virgins at the feast. It is us who must, like her, “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom. 13:14).

It is only if we keep our virginity that we will be able to sing with comprehension and with our tongues indeed rejoicing, venerating and magnifying the Lady of us all, saying, “Hail to the Holy Virgin who has brought forth unto us the True Light…”

Verse 15

On account of Him who was born
For us in the City of David,
Our Savior Jesus,
Christ the Lord.

See how this is all on account of Him? This praise is on account of Him who was born for us. Christ is the First and Last, the Alpha and Omega, how befitting that He be the reason we praise the Virgin. Do we often forget that Christ is the first and last? That He is our reason?

Consider O my soul, and tell me if you are convinced of this… Do you rise each morning and praise the One who created you? Do you utter His Holy Name before all others? Is He the first thought of the morning and the first word off of your tongue? Is He, in truth, your first?

Alas, I fear not. Too often do I put first in my mind in the morning the list of things I need to do that day – instead of Him who will give me the grace to do them. Too often do I rise in the morning, desiring more sleep, instead of leaping to praise my Creator. Too often do I rise and wonder how I will meet the challenges of the day, the people I will speak to, the commitments I have to fulfill…but without having Him in mind. Alas, indeed, my soul, for He is not my first if I choose this way.

Consider again, my soul and tell me: Do you remember to even thank Him for the day before you lie down? Do you remember to examine yourself and how you spent your time with Him during the day? Is He the thought you keep repeating as you drift off into sleep – the little death? Is He the comfort that allows you to lay down in peace and without fear? Do you tremble that He might be the one you meet if you do not wake?

Behold, my soul you should weep, for He is not truly your last. Too often do I neglect to put my day before me, examining how it was spent and how I transgressed or what beautiful moments I spent with Him. Too often am I too excited about the events of the day I had with others or those that feed my ego, and forget that He is the only reason for my existence and the One who permits me to live and enjoy such days. Too often I put my head on my pillow thinking of Him only as a duty before sleep, when I would rather think about what the next day holds for me. Too often I forget that He will not allow me to live forever – that I may lay down my head and never lift it again. Cry and weep, my soul, He is not my last when I have neglected Him.

O my God, teach me to hold You in remembrance at all times. Teach me how I might live my love for You. Teach me to pray, and teach me to love You, that I may say with honesty that You are my all in all.

O Virgin Mary, intercede on my behalf, that I, like you, might choose Him for my portion.

Verse 16

Come all you nations,
So we may give blessings to her,
For she has become both the Mother
and Virgin.

Come all you nations!

“Symeon also blesseth the holy Virgin as the handmaid of the divine counsel, and the instrument of the birth that submitted not itself to the laws of human nature. For being a virgin she brought forth, and that not by man, but by the power of the Holy Spirit having come upon her” (Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of Saint Luke, Homily 4, p.61).

It is amazing how all the nations did bless her – here we see that even the Jews, by the voice of Simeon the Elder, praised the Blessed Virgin, recognizing that she was chosen before all people as an instrument for the Divine work of redemption and salvation.

We are the other nations – for we are the Gentiles – we are the ones who were not His chosen but became His chosen. Indeed – we make true this verse by mere virtue of our singing it! For we, the Gentiles, are singing in one accord giving blessings to the pure lady! We sing it in various tongues, in every church where we abide, and in one voice join the prophets who also blessed her!

What a joy, but also what a mystery – a paradox incomprehensible and inconceivable to those who lack the Holy Spirit – that a woman could be a mother and still remain virginal. Nor can we claim to fully comprehend it -it is mystery that we witnessed to in actuality – it is a knowledge granted unto us by Him. Our joy is doubled then – as we praise her beauty and splendor that was in her purity and virtue – but on account of Him who made her and Him who chose her! For He is the one who is above “the laws of human nature,” it is He, who is above all thought and comprehension! It is He that made the Incomprehensible into a tangible form, that we might see and believe: Christ, God the Word. Blessed art You, O God, and blessed indeed are you, O Mary, for being part of this great plan!

Come, indeed, all you nations!

Verse 17

Hail to you, O Virgin,
The pure and incorrupt one,
The Word of the Father,
Came and took flesh from you.

Hail to you, O Virgin Mary: we stand here to praise your purity and incorruption. You were not just pure before you bore the Word of the Father in your womb, but you remained pure throughout your life. For this reason, Ever-virgin, your body did not see corruption, and Christ our Lord saw that your body was worthy to be assumed to heaven, for through your body the Lord of all came and took flesh from you.

O pure and incorrupt one, aid us in our war against Satan and his demons, who desire to separate us from the love of our Lord, to cause us to love the world – the impure and corrupt world, which stains the purity of our soul and corrupts our body. Intercede for us, O pure and incorrupt saint, that we may be saved from the lusts of the world… that we may remain pure in heart, that Christ, the Word of the Father, may come and dwell within us. For the pure in heart will see God.

Verse 18

Hail to the chosen vessel,
Which is without blemish,
That is of your true and perfect,

When Noah kept himself and his family away from blemish – from the sins that the world was engaged in – he was chosen among all the nations, and was saved from the flood by being protected within a vessel.

When St. Paul the Apostle went on his way to persecute Christians, his zeal and philosophical insights were diverged and were aimed at Christ and His service. He became a chosen vessel by the Lord Himself to spread the Gospel of Christ crucified and resurrected, and the Gospel of chastity, to all the nations.

As for you, O Virgin, you became the most blessed chosen vessel. Your very own virginity proved that by remaining pure from blemish, one can bear the Logos of God…

Pray for us, O Virgin, that we may follow your purity and refrain from all blemish and the sins of the world, so that we may be chosen vessels for the Lord, in which Christ lives, as He lived in you; by which we are saved from the floods of the world, as Noah was saved; and through which Christ is preached to all the nations, as St. Paul preached. Amen.

Verse 19

Hail to the Paradise,
Speaking of Christ,
Who became the Second Adam,
For the sake of Adam the first man.

When the first man, Adam, fell and sinned, Paradise was lost; but you, O Mary, are worthy to be called the Paradise itself, for because of you Christ, the Second Adam, was born, and Paradise was regained. You are the Paradise that does not point to itself, but looks and speaks of Christ Himself, despite the honor given to you.

O Paradise in whom God dwelt for nine months; O Paradise that renewed our joy and brought delight to Adam; O Paradise that speaks of Christ; intercede for us before Him who restored Adam and all his children, that we may be led throughout the way into the Kingdom of God, into the Paradise of Joy. Amen.

Verse 20

Hail to the location,
Of the inseparable union,
Of the natures that came together in one place,
Without mingling.

Your womb, O Virgin, is the location of the mystery of the Incarnation. Your womb, O Virgin, is the location where the Logos of God, who is consubstantial with the Father, assumed human nature, and became consubstantial with us. Your womb, O Virgin, is the location where the Divine and Human natures became one, where God descended from heaven to bring us humans back to Him and be in Him and with Him. Your womb, O Virgin, is the location where God became Man, so that man may become God. Your womb, O Virgin, is the location that united two natures into one inseparable nature, yet without mingling, change, or confusion of the natures themselves.

Your womb, O Virgin, is the place we see ahead of us, the altar, for there, too, the Divine Logos unites with the bread and wine, sanctifying them and changing them to His Holy Body and Blood, which are inseparable from His Divine Nature. As we approach the altar to partake in the communion of the blessed mysteries, we approach you, O Virgin, and ask you to intercede for us before your son, that we may be worthy of partaking of the Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, by which our sins are forgiven.

“May fornication and every defiled thought flee from us – for the sake of God who is of the Virgin” (The Prayer of Submission to the Father, in the Divine Liturgy).

Let us be pure in heart and mind, so that like the Virgin we may be a place for the indwelling of Christ when we partake of the blessed mysteries – partakers of the Body, partakers of the nature, and partakers in the succession of Christ.

Verse 21

Hail to the bridal chamber,
Decorated in every way,
For the true Bridegroom,
Who united with humanity.

Hail to you, O Virgin, whose pure heart became a bridal chamber in which God entered, whose heart was made into a habitation of God. You, the bridal chamber, are decorated with the most glorious and exquisite materials – with purple and scarlet! – and the Bridegroom whom you loved sits on your lap, giving you the kiss of a child to His beloved and caring mother. Behold the love, behold the divine embrace!

“O that his left hand were under my head,
and that his right hand embraced me!” (Songs 2:6).

In this icon of love, O Virgin, we see the love of God with the whole of humanity exemplified through you. For after our long search for the beloved Bridegroom, He chose to come to us and hold on to our hands and follow us to the bridal chamber, wherein we become detached from evil, and our mouth delights in the source of true love, the source of light, the source of all beauty!

We see the bridal chamber decorated with a palanquin from the wood of Lebanon, and its posts of silver, its back of gold, its seat of purple; its interior inlaid with love (Songs 3:9). This bridal chamber which our souls are brought to is the heavenly Paradise wherein we dwell with Christ and sit under His shadow with great delight. It is the heavenly wedding banquet, which the King has brought us to.

“Draw me after you, let us make haste.
The king has brought me into his chambers.
We will exult and rejoice in you;
we will extol your love more than wine;
rightly do they love you” (Songs 1:4).

Through Mary, the daughter of Joachim, we learnt of our true friend, our true beloved Bridegroom, O daughters of Jerusalem!

Verse 22

Hail to the soul of human nature,
Likened to the bush,
Which the fire of His Divinity,
Did not burn any of it.

The burning bush which Moses saw was a symbol of the Virgin Mother. The fire burned in the midst of the bush, but it was not consumed nor affected by the fire. Likewise, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Theotokos, and the Lord was incarnated in her womb, the fire of His Divinity did not affect her humanity or her purity. For even though she gave birth to the Lord God, she still remained a Virgin, and her virginity remained sealed. The Lord found favor in her among women, and honored her pure body which she had offered as a temple for Him to dwell in.

Truly this is was a miracle beyond the human understanding. Moses himself stood wondering why the bush did not burn. As he approached it, the Lord revealed to Him saying:

“I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey” (Ex. 3:7,8).

Likewise, through the Virgin Mary, the Lord Christ came to release humanity from bondage of Satan. He heard the cry of the righteous as they departed, and saw the agony of those whose spirits longed to be with the Lord in Paradise. Indeed, He came to save us from eternal death, and once again reconciled us with the Father, that we may join Him in the “good and broad land,” the Heavenly Jersualem.

Intercede for us, O Mother of God, that the Lord may forgive us our many sins, and grant us to see the Heavenly Kingdom which He promised.

Verse 23

Hail to the handmaid and Mother,
The Virgin and the Heaven,
Who carried in the flesh,
He Who sits upon the Cherubim.

She is truly a great example of the creation submitting to the Creator. The Theotokos offered herself in body and spirit to the Lord in complete submission. It was because she loved Him so dearly that she submitted to His will, and served Him with joy and humbleness. She was blessed among women, honored above any in humanity, and highly favored by the Lord. Yet, she did not submit for her glory or in pride, but served in love and humility, proclaiming to Gabriel: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Lk. 1:38).

She is the Mother of our Lord, and she served Him, caring for Him in His childhood, always by His side, until His death on the Cross. This was her Son, Whom she had born in the flesh. He was her Lord, and she rejoiced in serving Him. Her motherhood was not only evident in her love and service to her Son, but to all of humanity. She served Elizabeth in her pregnancy. She interceded for those at the wedding of Galilee. She took John the Beloved as her son, as commanded by the Lord on the Cross. She is worthy then to be called the Second Eve, because through her the Lord and Savior came and saved us from death, granting us eternal life once again. She is the second Eve “because she was the mother of all living” (Gen. 3:20).

She remained a pure and holy temple for the Lord, and He honored her Virginity. For this, she was worthy to be called a Second Heaven. He Who sits upon the Cherubim saw her purity, and chose her among women, so that He may in the flesh dwell in her womb.

How awesome is the Virgin Mother and her service, for until this day, she serves the Lord, praising His name with the saints and angels, and serving humanity in interceding for them before Her Lord and Son. Intercede for us O Mother of God, that He may forgive us our sins.

Verse 24

For we rejoice and sing,
With the holy angels,
And we joyfully proclaim,
“Glory to God in the Highest.”

Through you, O Virgin Mother, the Lord Christ came into the world. He left the glory of His Kingdom to be born in a manger, in the smallest of the cities of Israel. He became Man, and descended to the earth, so that we may once again rise, and live eternally with Him in Heaven. By His Crucifixion, He has once again reconciled us with the Father in Heaven. The heavenly and the earthly are once again united, not in flesh or nature, but in praising the Lord of Hosts, who sits upon the Cherubim. Once again, through Christ, we are granted to join the hosts of angels in heaven in the service of praising Him.

The angel proclaimed to the shepherds about the Lord’s birth saying: “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people” (Lk. 2:10).

How many times do I refrain from singing about Your great works O Lord? How often then do we offer this sacrifice of praise before our Lord? The angels praised the Lord Christ as He lay in the manger, wrapped in swaddling cloths. Why then do we not cease the moments of joy in praising our Savior, as His Body and Blood are offered upon the altar?

The Lord has reconciled us with heaven. Let us then join the heavenly hosts of angels in praising and glorifying the Lord of Hosts and King of kings. Let us, the earthly congregation, commune with the heavenly choir in praising the Holy Trinity without ceasing, saying “Glory to God in the Highest.”

Verse 25

And on Earth peace,
Goodwill toward man,
For He Who is glorified forever,
Was pleased with you.

Through you O Virgin Mother, the Lord Christ came and dwelt in your womb, that He may once again restore peace between creation and the Creator. “Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), it was necessary that Christ reconcile us again with the Father, that we may once again dwell with Him and in His presence eternally. In doing so, Christ became the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf. He was the price for peace.

Surely, this peace is not of the world, for the world itself knows no peace because it does not know God. The Lord proclaimed to us saying: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives” (Jn. 14:27).

True peace is not in this world, nor comes from this world, but comes from above. Indeed, the Holy Spirit is the Comforter. We have peace in knowing we have been sanctified and baptized in the Name of the Lord. We have peace knowing that the Lord watches over us, and hears our cry in distress. We have peace knowing that Christ has died on our behalf, that we may live again. We have peace knowing that the world is temporary, and will perish, but the Kingdom of God is eternal.

Why then do we worry about many things? Why do we loose faith in the Lord at the time of hardships and distress? Why are we afraid of the world and the things in the world? Where is our peace but in knowing and living with the Lord Himself: “I have said this to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Let us then seek peace with the Lord. Let us look to the Virgin Mother, who had peace in her heart, and did not concern herself with the world. Intercede for us O Mother of God, that He may grant us peace, and forgive us our sins.

Verse 26

Great is the honor of Mary,
Above all the saints,
For she was found worthy to receive,
God the Word.

“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

Wonderful and awesome is your honor, O Mary the Mother of God. I sometimes wonder…was this honor a result of your own work or authority? And who can be worthy of carrying Christ our true God? It is a great honor. It is not achieved but awarded for a very special reason. To carry the one who is responsible for my very existence is a blessing that no created thing, man or woman can take upon themselves. He humbled Himself. He humbled Himself because He loves us so much that He has suffered all things and redeemed us at a price far beyond what our words can describe. I wish I could harmonize myself with You…You have given me all the means that lead to godliness.

Therefore, you are exalted above all the saints in heaven and on earth. For no other than you carried the Creator of all things and the Savior of all things. Great is the blessing that you bare. Although, the saints suffered in many different ways and devoted their entire lives to Christ, they have not exceeded your honor. You did not have to stand before fierce emperors to defend the faith, you did not suffer excruciating pains and suffer martyrdom, you did not have to argue or struggle with mobs of violent men, you did not need to profess the faith to any unbeliever or to untangle the thoughts of one who is confused. You did not forsake your family for Christ. You did not wonder the deserts fighting all kinds of demons. These were people who were “afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4: 8, 9).

However, you offered to God what was acceptable in His eyes. You offered a simple and pure heart, contrite and full of love. He sees all the struggles of the saints and lends His ear to their prayers, giving them the reward they deserve for their works and struggles; but He set you aside for a very honorable reason. When He searched He found no one like you. He saw a true and faithful servant, illuminating with the love of God. For this reason, you were found worthy to receive, God the Logos for the Salvation of all people. It is through you, O Mary, that He invites all of us, in the image and likeness of God, to delight in and to enjoy everlasting life.

“The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever” (Is. 32:17).

Verse 27

The One feared by the angels,
Mary the Virgin,
Has carried,
In her womb.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:37-39).

Who can be feared? All the heavenly hosts fear God alone. Are we not to be wise and fear Him as well? True, His mercies are countless and His love is abundant, however, there are those who love God with all their hearts, but they lack the will and the implementation. Peter, the disciple of our Lord, is a prime example of a dedicated servant who loved God with all his heart but was still grieved with offences. Lord, may I be among those who are greatly affected by Your love without taking advantage of it. Please, accept me as You kindly accepted Mary Magdalene and Zaccheus the Publican, and select me to be a faithful and loyal servant as You chose Matthew the publican. I may fear many things, such as the fear of falling, the fear of being revealed, the fear of punishment – spiritual and earthly – but most of all, I fear losing You. A certain saint once said, “I fear three things: the moment my spirit departs from my flesh, the hour I stand before the just Judge, and the moment I hear His judgment. “Do not become proud, but stand in awe” (Rom. 11: 20). May the fear of You never be removed from my heart, nor from the heart of others, for You are indeed our God, our Savior, and our Judge.

The One feared by all created things humbled Himself to be carried in the womb of the Virgin for the salvation of all created things. The One whose Name alone is an instrument and method of Transfiguration. The One whose presence causes the mountains tremble and bow. The all powerful, the all-knowing God Himself united with our Nature in order to save us. I turn to you with “groaning” (Rom. 8:22), O my beloved Savior. Lord, You know me better than anyone and You know that I am forgetful of Your judgments, I fear and tremble at Your feet, for I am weak and sinful. I thank You for all Your mercies towards me. I kneel and pray to You. Through this miraculous union, nothing created can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. You are my God. You are all in all. You are worshipped and respected by all things, as a child to his father. All praise and thanksgiving are due to Your blessed and honored Name. We fear You along with the angels in heaven for it is through You that we have strength and hope: “Lord, who will not fear and glorify your name? For you alone are holy” (Rev. 15:4).

Verse 28

She is exalted above the Cherubim,
More honored than the Seraphim,
Se became a temple,
For the One from the Trinity.

She is Jerusalem,
The City of our God,
The Joy of all saints,
Abides in her.

Hail to you, O Virgin, Mother of God, for great is your favor with our God and Savior. He chose you to be exalted above His highest creation, the throne-bearing creatures, the Cherubim. He selected you to be honored high above His most honored creation, the creatures of praise, the Seraphim. We cannot, even for a moment expect to describe such wonder and glory. However, in the book of Ezekiel we are given a small taste of the beautiful scene in heaven. In a vision, he said, “I looked, and there was a figure that looked like a human being; below what appeared to be its loins it was fire, and above the loins it was like the appearance of brightness, like gleaming amber… And the glory of the God of Israel was there” (Ezek. 8:2, 4). You became like the city of Jerusalem, for God chose to humble Himself, taking habitation in you. You became His throne on earth. The Joy of all the saints abides in you. Amazing is your glory, O Mary the Mother of God.

Later, Ezekiel mentions that, “and above the dome that was over the heads of the cherubim there appeared above them something like a sapphire, in form resembling a throne” (Ezek. 10:1). This is, without a doubt, merely a narrow glance of heaven and the glory of God. O Mary, I cannot express in words, the glory which you have received from the Almighty God, for you sit above the Cherubim and the Seraphim, at the side of the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the bread of life, the true vine, the good Shepherd, the Almighty One Himself. You became a little sanctuary and your heart became His kingdom. The Throne of His glory became your womb, for the One of the Trinity reigned over you. Interceded on our behalf, O full of Grace, that He may forgive us our sins.

Verse 29

The dignitaries of the nations,
Who sit in darkness,
And in the shadow of death,
Had the Great Light shine to them.

The dark shadow of death covered the earth from Great Light coming from the true sun, the Son of God. The whole world sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, and God Himself was forgotten.

Who tried to attain knowledge in those days? Did not the Jews gain many revelations and visions and prophecies from God? Yet all that was just a snap-shot of the immense glory of God. Did not the dignitaries of the nations, the wise philosophers, through their love for Wisdom, reject the pagan gods and sought the true God? Yet all their massive volumes of their philosophy, their search for God, their explanations of the magnificent creation of this one God, did not fulfill all their desires of seeking.

All those people tried to look beyond the shadow of death, around the darkness, but could not get out of the darkness and into the light. They remained within the cave, as Plato once said, and all they saw were shadows of reality; reality can only be known when the prisoners in the cave were released from their bondage and went out into the bright sunlight. And this was the hope of the philosophers, the seekers of wisdom, those who searched deeply to find God.

But who was to release them from their bondage, from the dark cave and the shadow of death? Who, but You, O Lord our God?

You, O Christ our deliverer, did not leave man in despair. You came into the world, You who are the Light of the world, and enlightened the Gentiles and gave glory to Your people Israel. You fulfilled all that we sought, O Lord our Helper, our Teacher, our Savior.

“With God are wisdom and strength; he has counsel and understanding…. He uncovers the deeps out of darkness, and brings deep darkness to light” (Job 12:13,22).

The Great Light, which is You, O Lord Jesus Christ, is the light we seek, and we are promised to find You, for Your Light is brighter than the sun, and shines on all people equally. Who truly tried to seek You and has not found the Truth? Who truly tried to ask and has not found the Way to the Kingdom of Heaven? Who truly tried to knock on the door and has not found eternal Life? No, no one is left in utter darkness if they truly seek Your light, O Lord, which has illuminated the darkness and the shadow of death.

“Some sat in darkness and in gloom, prisoners in misery and in irons…. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress; he brought them out of darkness and gloom, and broke their bonds asunder. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. For he shatters the doors of bronze, and cuts in two the bars of iron” (Ps. 107:10, 13-16).

Glory is Yours, O Only-Begotten of the Father, true light of true light, who came into the world to give us Your Light to guide us. By Your tender mercy, You were incarnate of the holy Virgin Mary, and lived with us and in us “to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Lk. 1:79). Glory be to Your mother, the Virgin, for through her the Great Light came into the world; through her the Light dawned upon the darkness and the shadow of death.

Verse 30-31

God who rests,
Within His saints,
Became incarnate of the Virgin,
For our salvation.

Come behold and be amazed,
Praise with joy in account of,
This mystery,
Which was revealed to us.

Rejoice, all you people, and again I say rejoice! All you nations, behold the Lord is in our presence! He who sits upon the Cherubim and is praised by the Seraphim was incarnate of the Virgin; He who rests within His saints and chosen ones, did not leave the Gentiles in darkness; He who is incomprehensible revealed Himself to us.

Renew your sense of wonder as you approach this great mystery, O you people of the Lord! For as we enter into Your presence, O Lord, the shadow of death and the darkness of sin is illuminated by Your Great Light, and what we learn by grace of the mysteries we behold is an immense amount of knowledge that no one can understand. Who would have thought that the Lord would come in His glory to our low estate? The Gentiles who were struggling to seek the Lord – look, His love for them ended their struggle, for He came to them and for them.

The struggle to look for You, O Lord, has turned into amazement and wonder, through the grace of the Holy Spirit within us.

Glory is to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the one God. Amen. Intercede for us, O Virgin, and all you saints in whom God rests, that our many sins may be forgiven.

Verse 32-33

For the One without flesh was incarnate,
And the Word took a body,
The One with no beginning began,
And the Eternal One became temporal.

The Incomprehensible has been touched,
And the Unseen has been seen,
The Son of the Living God,
Truly became the Son of Man.

Some would wonder, O Lord, how I could hold such contradictory beliefs about Your Person… How can the Lord, who is spirit, who is eternal, who is incomprehensible, and who cannot be seen, become incarnate? The One who is above all became one of us, touched, seen, heard, born and was raised as all others, suffered and endured tortures, and died a crucified man outside the walls of Jerusalem. How, O Lord?

But how can anything be impossible for You, O Lord of lords, King of kings, and the only God, who created everything by Your Word? Even though we cannot comprehend how You act, we believe that nothing is impossible for our loving God, whose love we are sure of.

Help us, O Lord, to endure in our faith, our hope, and our love for You. May our minds never turn towards the heresies of the world, and may the schisms between us, Your children, be destroyed, so that in unity of faith we may have knowledge of Your imperceptible and infinite glory, the glory that shone in Your flesh, O Lord Jesus Christ.

O Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, intercede for us, and stand by us in this praise of ours to God, so that by your example we may remain alert when He who is above time comes at the appointed time of Judgment, the time when once again we shall see Him who is “the Timeless, the Unseen, the One who became visible for our sakes, who was beyond touch and passion, yet who for our sakes became subject to suffering, and endured everything for us” (St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to Polycarp, 3).

Verse 34

Jesus Christ is the same,
Yesterday, today and forever,
In one hypostasis,
We worship and glorify Him.

The Father looked…

Jesus Christ came as the High Priest, who offered not an animal sacrifice as the High Priest of the Jews, but offered Himself, the innocent Lamb, on the wood of the cross, opening the heavenly gates of mercy once and for all.

O You who came from heaven, Christ Jesus our Lord, You are the same yesterday, today and forever. You have not changed, for through Your incarnation You lost nothing, but united with our nature so that we may be united to You, and through You to the Father. You are the eternal High Priest, who for all time can save each one who approaches God, for You, O Lord, are always alive to make intercession for us (Heb. 7:25).
Through Him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name (Heb. 13:15).

May our praise in this night ascend to Your throne, O Lord, and may our sins be forgiven, through the intercessions of the Virgin Mary, all the heavenly creatures and the saints. Amen.