The Panaghia or All Holy icon venerated especially in Russia is the icon that best expresses all of this. The Mother of God is standing in an upright position with her arms raised in an attitude of total submission and acceptance.
The Lord with her is depicted as a princely child, visible in the centre of her bosom.
Her expression is one of wonder, silence, humility as if she were saying, ‘See what the Lord has done for me, when He turned His gaze on this, His humble servant.’
- Submission tells God that, “You know better and I trust that You are always good, as You say that You are.” Our praise must then spring forth from the depth of our being because it is there that we are being tested or purified.
- Mary’s submission is seen when she entrusted herself completely into God’s hand, “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord.” The word handmaid here indicates someone who is wholly owned by her master.
- Declaring herself to be the handmaid of the Lord, Mary gave her body, mind, soul and spirit to the Lord. Everything was now in His hands alone. God was the owner of her reputation, her life, her all.
“For this faithful handmaid never, in either thought, word or deed contradicted the most High; but, entirely deprived of her own will, she lived always and in all things obedient to that of God.”
~ St. Thomas of Villanova
- Mary proved how ready she was to obey in all things. In the first place, when, to please God she obeyed the Roman emperor and undertook the long journey to Bethlehem in the winter and in such poverty she gave birth to her son in a stable
- When Simeon tells Mary that, “a sword shall pierce your own soul,” (Lk 2:35) there is no sign of protest or resistance, rather she marvels at what God will do through that. Imagine being present at the baptism of your child where God reveals that you must suffer because you have willingly accepted your child. But above all, she showed heroic obedience when to obey the divine will, she offered her son to death.
- Our natural response is to kick and fight for relief but Mary submits herself to all that God would allow because she is fully aware that God is the one who is in control. She knows who God is to her and who she is to God and submits to what He allows, knowing that nothing is beyond His control and her praise is this:
It is He who made the earth by His power,
Who established the world by His wisdom,
And by His understanding stretched out the heavens.
~ Jeremiah 10:12
I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be