The Annunciation of the Mother of God, the Ever-Virgin Mary
The following narrative tells of one of the most important events in world history, the incarnation of the eternal Son of God. St. Photios remarks that "This festival is the beginning of all the other festivals, in that it gives us the contract for heavenly commerce, enriches the world with the inviolate wealth of the Lord's advent, and both effects the cleansing of our human frame and offers us the enjoyment of the undefiled goods...for today, the Virgin, on behalf of our whole race, is being betrothed to the common Lord."
"Verily, the betrothal of the Ever-Virgin is the foundation and groundwork of our salvation...With good reason does humanity bear itself proudly and rejoice; for upon receiving the news of a marriage contract with the Lord, it casts off the shameful yoke of slavery." (St. Photios, Homily 7: The Annunciation, The Homilies of Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople, trans. by Cyril Mango).
TODAY IS REVEALED THE MYSTERY FROM ALL ETERNITY
On the day of the Annunciation, the Word of God entered mankind in a way hitherto unexampled: the Father sent the Son; the Son was made flesh by the power and operation of the Holy Spirit (Ruah).
The coeternal Word of the Father without beginning, not being parted from the things on high, has now descended here below, in His infinite compassion taking pity upon fallen men; and assuming the poverty of Adam, He has put on a form that is alien to Him. (Matinal Lauds, Tone 1)
In the Dismissal Hymn (Apolytikion) of this Feast, we chant, Today is the crown of our salvation and the manifestation of the mystery that is from all eternity. The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin, and Gabriel announces the good tidings of grace. Therefore, let us also join him and cry aloud to the Theotokos: "Rejoice, thou who art full of grace: the Lord is with Thee."
Saint Irenaeus of Lyons (d. after 193) comments that "Just as Adam had been created by the Word of God from the unworked and virgin earth, so also the Word of God created flesh for Himself from a virgin womb when the Son of God became the new Adam, so as to correct the fall into sin of the first Adam." (Demonstratio apostolicae praedicationis, trans. by J.P. Smith in "Ancient Christian Writers". Blessed John Maximovitch, The Orthodox Veneration of the Mother of God, trans. by Fr. Seraphim Rose).
St. Theophanes the "Branded" and Poet (+1381), in a hymn from the Feast, chants, Today is revealed the mystery that is from all eternity. The Son of God becomes the Son of man, that, sharing in what is worse, He may make me share in what is better. In times of old Adam was once deceived: he sought to become God [Gen. 3:5], but received not his desire. Now God becomes man, that He may make Adam god (by His Grace). Let creation rejoice, let nature exult: for the Archangel stands in fear before the Virgin and, saying to her "Rejoice", he brings the joyful greeting whereby our sorrow is assuaged. O Thou Who in Thy merciful compassion wast made man, our God, glory to Thee! (Matinal Doxastikon, Tone 2).
The following excerpts are taken from, The Life of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, written and compiled by Holy Apostles Convent
Holy Father John the Righteous, disciple of St. Gregory of Decapolis; Euthemios the Enlightener of Karelia; Cosmas, Bishop of Calcydon; John the New Martyr of Epiros; Athanasia the Wonderworker of Aegina