When a Mysterious Visitor Turns Out to be the Archangel Gabriel
"It is truly proper to glorify you, O Theotokos!
The ever blessed, immaculate and the Mother of Our God!
More honorable than the Cherubim
And beyond compare, more glorious than the Seraphim!
Who, a virgin, gave birth to God, the Word
You, truly the Theotokos, we magnify!
Today we honor the Archangel Gabriel, known first, and probably foremost, as the one who announced God's plan for our Salvation to Mary when he appeared to her to collect her "yes" at the Annunciation. We celebrate this feast, and a Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel in March as well, but today we remember another story about an appearance of the Archangel, as you can read in the Prologue of Ohrid, this time to a group of monks on Mount Athos in the ninth century who were conducting an all night vigil. As they were praying, an unknown monk knocked on the door, introduced himself simply as Gabriel, and asked to join them in their prayer. The monks agreed and saw that he prayed fervently, but when they were about to chant the magnificat before the ninth ode, they heard him insert the phrase, "It is truly proper to glorify you, O Theotokos; the ever blessed, immaculate and the mother of our God...." Then he continued with the prayer as the monks had always chanted it between the verses of the magnificat, as it was written, "More honorable than the Cherubim..." And they continued to finish the service.
Once morning had arrived and their vigil was over, one of the monks asked Gabriel to write down these beautiful words so that they could pray in this way again, but they could find no pen and paper so the stranger took a piece of tile and wrote the words with his finger upon it, giving away his heavenly identity. The Archangel instructed the monks to sing this new hymn often before he disappeared from their sight. The icon before which they had been praying emitted a heavenly light for some time afterward, and is reverenced to this day.
Remember the Garden of the Theotokos we had talked about in an earlier post? I thought, how wonderful would it be for the children to make a stepping stone for our garden using an old piece of tile with this hymn inscribed on it!
Perhaps some plaster mix from the craft store would work better with some tiles pressed into it for decoration? This way, the children could indeed write upon it with their finger, or a pointed stick, and inscribe the words! I'm liking this idea a lot....be back with pictures.
Oh, and maybe "angel hair" for dinner tonight? Just a thought.
Have a blessed Synaxis of St. Gabriel!
Plaster Stepping Stone Kits:
More about the feast: