This Article was taken (in December 2012) from ENLARGING THE HEART
Madonna Adoring the Child with Five Angels,
by Sandro Botticelli.
Date: 1485 - 1490.
If a handmaid is she, who, with intent and with complete attention, beholds her Lord, then, again, the Most-Holy Virgin is the first among the handmaids of the Lord.
[...] She did not care to please the world, but only God; nor did she care to justify herself before the world, but only before God. She herself is obedience; she herself is service; she herself is meekness.
The Most-Holy Virgin could in truth say to the angel of God: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord".
The greatest perfection, and the greatest honour that a woman can attain on Earth, is to be a handmaid of the Lord. Eve lost this perfection and honour in Paradise without effort, and the Virgin Mary achieved this perfection and this honour outside Paradise with her efforts.
Brethren, we have in total only a few words spoken by the Most-Holy Theotokos recorded in the Gospels.
All of her words pertain to the magnification of God. She was silent before men but her soul conversed unceasingly with God. Every day and every hour, she found a new reason and incentive to magnify God.
If only we were able to know and to record all her magnifications of God throughout her whole life, oh, how many books would it take!
But, even by this one magnification, which she spoke before her kinswoman, Elizabeth, the mother of the great Prophet and Forerunner, John, every Christian can evaluate what a fragrant and God-pleasing flower was her most holy soul.
Even before she heard the Gospel from the lips of her Son, she knew how to speak with God and to glorify Him in accordance with the teaching of the Gospel.
This knowledge came to her from the Holy Spirit of God, whose grace constantly poured into her like clear water into a pure vessel.
Her soul magnified God with canticles throughout her whole life, and therefore God magnified her above the Cherubim and the Seraphim.
Likewise, small and sinful as we are, the same Lord will magnify in His Kingdom us who magnify her, if we exert ourselves to fill this brief life with the magnification of God in our deeds, words, thoughts and prayers.
O Most-Holy, Most-Pure and Most-Blessed Theotokos, cover us with the wings of thy prayers.
Nikolai Velimirovich (1880-1956; Orthodox Church):