I will always remember celebrating Annunciation one year on the Holy Mountain, at Philotheou where today is their patronal feast. It is, to this day, the longest service I have ever attended in the Orthodox Church, beginning at 8 pm and ending at 8 am the next morning (I dozed off in one of the chapels sometime after communion).
Rather than attempting to say anything profound about such a great Mystery as the conception of our Lord, I give you, simply, the second of John Donne’s ‘Holy Sonnets’—‘Annunciation’ (from Herbert J.C. Grierson, ed., The Poems of John Donne, Vol. I: The Text of the Poems With Appendixes [London: Oxford U, 1966], p. 319):
Salvation to all that will is nigh;
That All, which alwayes is All every where,
Which cannot sinne, and yet all sinnes must beare,
Which cannot die, yet cannot chuse but die,
Loe, faithfull Virgin, yeelds himselfe to lye
In prison, in thy wombe; and though he there
Can take no sinne, nor thou give, yet he’will weare
Taken from thence, flesh, which deaths force may trie.
Ere by the spheares time was created, thou
Wast in his minde, who is thy Sonne, and Brother;
Whom thou conciev’st, conceiv’d; yea thou art now
Thy Makers maker, and thy Fathers mother;
Thou’hast light in darke; and shutst in little roome,
Immensity cloysterd in thy deare wombe.
The 'La Corona' sonnets are inspired by liturgical prayer and praise—oral prayer; not by private meditation and the tradition of mental prayer. They echo the langage of collects and office hymns, which expound the doctrines of the Catholic Faith, recalling the events from which those doctrines are derived, but not attempting to picture them in detail. Instead of the scene of the maiden alone in her room at Nazareth, there is a theological paradox: 'Thy Makers maker, and thy Fathers mother.'