One of the troparia (aposticha) sung towards the end of Vespers on the feast of the Annunciation says: “The Theotokos heard a language that she did not know.” It was not a human language but an angelic one. The meeting between the Archangel Gabriel and the All-Holy Virgin took place within the mystery of the deification of the Theotokos, for she had reached a state of deification that defies rational interpretation. The angels, by divine dispensation, take a particular body and are able to pass on God’s will by a different and mysterious means of expression. And the All-Holy Virgin had risen above human concerns, so she could not only hear but also understand the Archangel Gabriel’s language.
All this means that the Orthodox Church is not merely a social system or a religion invented by human beings. It is the Body of Christ. The Church has a visible aspect that we see, and it also has an invisible aspect (the saints and angels) that we do not see with our bodily eyes, unless they have been transformed by the uncreated grace of God.
During the Entrance with the Holy Gospel in the Divine Liturgy we say the prayer: “Grant that with our entrance there may be an entrance of holy angels,” When St Seraphim of Sarov was a deacon, while he was making the Entrance with the Holy Gospel he saw Christ entering the church accompanied by angels. He remained motionless in theoria and was unable to continue. They brought him into the sanctuary and he was still in a state of theoria. It was granted to him then to see the uncreated Divine Liturgy, the glory of God, and he remained in this state for three whole days. It was a vision of the heavenly part of the Church. Hence the Church is a mystery. It is not only what we see, but also what we do not see. Sometimes we sense these things, and when our heart has been purified of passions we are able to see them too.
We should pray to be counted worthy day by day to understand something of the existence of this invisible Church. May we enter into this mystery of the Orthodox Church and, if God so wills, may we too learn the language of the angels. May we feel the presence of our guardian angel beside us and pray to him. May we learn his language and communicate with him. Surely he will tell us marvellous mysteries and wonderful things, and will pass on to us God’s will. In this way we shall gradually begin to experience our personal annunciation.
extract from the book The Feasts of the Mother of God