My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
THE ORTHODOX VENERATION OF MOTHER OF GOD
By Saint John Maximovitch
Please note: A right, Orthodox understanding of Mary the Birthgiver of God is essential for a right understanding of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. When her image is distorted, the image of her Son becomes distorted also.
[The book The Orthodox Veneration of Mary The Birthgiver of God by Saint John Maximotitch, is a classic exposition on how the historic Christian Church has venerated the Mother of God throughout the ages, and on the chief errors (heresies), which have attacked this veneration: both ancient heresies and the modern deviations of Western Christendom. It clearly tells why the Virgin Mary should be honored by all generations, and why at the same time she cannot be considered a co-Redemptress along with Jesus Christ, the Only Savior of the world. Written by a Saint and miracle-worker of modern times who had direct spiritual contact with the Mother of God, this work was translated by the renowned Church writer Fr. Seraphim Rose with the aim of guiding modern man on the safe path of salvation from the passions of the world."]
The Orthodox Church teaches about the Mother of God that which Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture have informed concerning Her, and daily it glorifies Her in its temples, asking Her help and defense. Knowing that She is pleased only by those praises which correspond to Her actual glory, the Holy Fathers and hymn-writers have entreated Her and Her Son to teaches that Christ was truly born of Mary the Ever-Virgin" (Saint Epiphanius, True Word Concerning the Faith). "It is essential for us to confess that the Holy Ever-Virgin Mary is actually Theotokos (Birth-giver of God), so as not to fall into blasphemy. For those who deny that the Holy Virgin is actually Theotokos are no longer believers, but disciples of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (Saint Ephraim the Syrian, To John the Monk).
From Sacred Tradition it is known that Mary was the daughter of the aged Joachim and Anna, and that Joachim descended from the royal line of David, and Anna form the priestly line. Notwithstanding such a noble origin, they were poor. However, it was not this that saddened these righteous ones, but rather the fact that they did not have children and could not hope that their descendants would see the Messiah. And behold, when once, being disdained by the Hebrews for their barrenness, they both in grief of soul were offering up prayers to God--Joachim on a mountain to which he had retired after the priest did not want to offer his sacrifice in the Temple, and Anna in her own garden weeping over her barrenness--there appeared to them an Angel who informed them that they would bring forth a daughter. Overjoyed, they promised to consecrate their child to God...
"...The Virgin Mary, having given Herself entirely up to God, even though She repulsed from Herself every impulse to sin, still felt the weakness of human nature more powerfully than others and ardently desired the coming of the Savior. In Her humility She considered Herself unworthy to be even the servant-girl of the Virgin Who was to give Him birth. So that nothing might distract Her from prayer and heedfulness to Herself. Mary gave to God a vow not to become married, in order to please only Him Her whole life long...
"...Mary received the angelic good tidings humbly and submissively. "Then the Logos/Word, in a way known to Himself, descended and, as He Himself willed, came and entered into Mary and abode in Her" (Saint Ephraim the Syrian, "Praise of the Mother of God"). "As lightning illuminates what is hidden, so also Christ purifies what is hidden in the nature of things. He purified the Virgin also and then was born, so as to show that where Christ is, there is manifest purity in all it power. He purified the Virgin while She was inviolate; wherefore, having been born, He left Her virgin. I do not say that Mary became immortal, but that being illuminated by grace, She was not disturbed by sinful desires" (Saint Ephraim the Syrian, Homily Against Heretics, 41). "The Light abode in Her , cleansed Her mind, made Her thoughts pure, made chaste Her concerns, sanctified Her virginity" (Saint Ephraim the Syrian, Mary and Eve). "One who was pure according to human understanding, He made pure by grace" (Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov, Exposition of the Teaching of the Orthodox Church on the Mother of God)...
"...Having experienced all the difficulties of earthly life, the Intercessor of the Christian race sees every tear, hears every groan and entreaty directed to Her. Especially near to Her are those who labor in the battle with the passions and are zealous for a God-pleasing life. But even in worldly cares She is an irreplaceable helper. "Joy of all who sorrow and intercessor for the offended, feeder of the hungry, consolation of travelers, harbor of the storm-tossed, visitation of the sick, protection and intercessor for the infirm, staff of old age, Thou art the Mother of God on High, O Most Pure One" (Sticheron of the Service of the Hodigitria). "The Mother of God unceasing in prayers" (Kontakion Hymn of Dormition), "saving the world by Thine unceasing prayer" (Theotokion Hymn of the Third Tone). "She day and night doth pray for us, and the scepters of kingdoms are confirmed by Her prayers" (daily Nocturne).
There is no intellect or words to express the greatness of Her Who was born in the sinful human race but became "more honorable than the Cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim." "Seeing the grace of the secret mysteries of God made manifest and clearly fulfilled in the Virgin, I rejoice; and I know not how to understand the strange and secret manner whereby the Undefiled has been revealed as alone chosen above all creation, visible and spiritual. Therefore, wishing to praise Her, I am struck dumb with amazement in both mind and speech. Yet still I dare to proclaim and magnify Her: She is indeed the heavenly Tabernacle" (Ikos of the Entry into the Temple). "Every tongue is at a loss to praise Thee as is due; even a spirit from the world above is filled with dizziness, when it seeks to sing Thy praises, O Theotokos. But since Thou art good, accept our faith. Thou knowest well our love inspired by God, for Thou art the Protector of Christians, and we magnify Thee" (Irmos of the 9th Canticle, Service of the Theophany).
THE SERVICE OF THE PARAKLESIS (SUPPLICATION) TO THE EVER-VIRGIN MARY THE THEOTOKOS AT OUR HOLY DORMITION CHAPEL IN NEW CARLISLE AT 10:00 A.M. EVERY FRIDAY MORNING
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"-Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God