Fr Sergius Bulgakov: Has the Holy Spirit Descended Upon You?

Feast of the Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel

TODAY is the beginning of our salvation, and the revelation of the mystery ordained from eternity” (from the Hymn of the Annunciation). The light-blue vault encircles the earth, and heavenly lights shine in its transparent depths. There is also a light-blue sky in the soul of God’s creation, in which the Light shines, lighting every human being who comes into the world. On the feast days of the Mother of God, churches are clothed in light-blue vestments and human souls radiate azure, offering it at the feet of the Mother of God beneath her heavenly veil, to the glory of the Ever-Virgin.

The infinite cosmic space, manifesting with its emptiness that non-being out of which the world was called to being by the Omnipotent One, is suffused by His light to its very depths. The cosmic space receives into itself and preserves the coalescing light; the dark void of nonbeing is clothed in heavenly azure; colorlessness is clothed in color. The light-blue depths of the sky are a direct image of God’s creation: that which did not exist received the light of being, the creative Word; and this nothing became the world, the creation of God. And upon this creation reposes God’s love, and beams of grace flow into it. The light-blue sky is the image of the gracious illumination of the creature, of that deification by virtue of which the nothingness of the creature is clothed in the beauty of Divine Glory. And in this dense, coalesced azure, lights begin to shine which are ignited from the one Light of lights. The azure of the sky symbolizes God’s condescension toward the world, creation’s reception of God’s gifts, God’s meeting with the creature. The world is preserved by God’s power, and streams of Divine love unceasingly flow into it. The world is created for the sake of man, and man is created for deification. And all things that take place in the life of the world have significance as a preparation for the full sanctification of man. But this fullness was accomplished and this sanctification was realized on that day and at that hour when the archangel was sent from heaven to the One full of grace with the news of the Incarnation, when the paradisiacal whiteness of the heaven-dweller shined on the light-blue veil, when the news of the Annunciation was heard and received by the Most Blessed One. And this was the accomplishment of that which was preestablished from the very beginning. It was “the revelation of the mystery ordained from eternity”: the Holy Spirit descended upon man in the person of the Most Pure One, and the Power of the Highest, the Word of God, overshadowed Her and made its abode in Her. The ladder between heaven and earth was established; man received the power to become a god by grace, for the God-Man was conceived in the One full of grace.

The Annunciation, “the beginning of our salvation,” is also the beginning of the Epiphany, for it pre-reveals the salvific action of the entire Holy Trinity through the Holy Spirit sent from the Father, the conception of the Son of God from the Virgin. This day is also an anticipation of Pentecost, for in the person of the One full of grace creation has been deemed worthy of receiving in it the Holy Spirit – not only in the visible form of the dove or in the vision of the tongues of fire, but also in the palpable action of the divine conception.

~Fr. Sergius Bulgakov, “The Archangel’s Voice: Oration on the Annunciation”

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