The Virgin Mary and the Angels.
The All-holy Virgin Mary is, before God, higher than all the saints of heaven.
God was well-pleased to be a Child and to rest in the womb and in the arms of the Virgin. He exchanged His cherubic throne in the heavens for a new throne on earth: the Virgin. Thus “He Who sitteth upon the Cherubim” (Es. 37:16) made the All-holy Virgin “more honourable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim,” because the new nature which He took on was not received from the angels, “but He took on Him the seed of Abraham” (Heb. 2:16) of the All-holy Virgin.
Human nature, taken on by the Son of God, was glorified by the resurrection, the ascension and its session at the right hand of God in Christ (Mark 16:19), and it was raised up and supremely exalted higher than all the angels. This nature in God the angels themselves cannot but worship.
By His incarnation the Lord quickened us, but first of all among all human nature His own Mother. Being found in her, He deified her, and in leaving her, He left her still deified.
Such great grace, as the All-holy Virgin Mary received, no one in the world has ever received nor can receive. Alone among all created beings, she is the most exalted bearer of the “power of the Most High,” for the Lord manifested in her the unique and greatest wonder of His condescension to the race of man, the incarnation. And this new creation was in no way less than the first creation of the world and of man itself. And the Virgin became closer to God than the highest of all creation.
Her unity with God did not come about as is the way with all the saints by grace alone, but in a way inherent in the human nature which the Son of God took from her, and in which He Himself abode in the very being of His Divine nature.
Besides this, the Mother of the Lord, while circumventing married life, combined virginity and motherhood in herself. In her the nature of women independently and integrally, or rather chastely, without man and without passion, fulfilled its purpose to give birth to children. Virginity received its crown and highest award; passionlessness likened her to the angels, the bodiless beings, whom all the saints strive to emulate by this virtue. And belief in her conceiving supernaturally, as well as the very passionlessness of her life itself, placed her above nature.
And the one, who was thus first made a “partaker of the Divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4), became higher than the Angels and was made the subject of their wonder, of their reverence and of their glorification. The ministers of God [the angels] cannot but find that this Ministress of God’s surpasses them, for they have given God nothing of their nature, and have not been in such a relationship with God as to partake of His Own nature, as she has done.
The nature of mankind was, in God incarnate, placed higher than the angels. This is why the Virgin, from whom He took that nature, has become higher than the angels. Thus “the Mighty One hath done great things” for her.
With particular honour God leads man in the All-holy Virgin up unto Himself and does so before the angels, so that His holy likeness, which had been disfigured by the fallen angels, might be displayed before all the angels in victory, triumphant and saved.