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.
THE VENERATION OF THE MOTHER OF GOD DURING HER EARTHLY LIFE
By Saint John Maximovitch
From Apostolic times and to our days all who truly love Christ give veneration to Her Who gave birth to Him, raised Him and protected Him in the day of His youth. If God the Father chose Her, God the Holy Spirit descended upon Her, and God the Son dwelt in Her, submitted to Her in the days of His youth, was concerned for Her when hanging on the Cross--then should not everyone who confesses the Holy Trinity venerate Her?
Still in the days of Her earthly life the friends of Christ, the Apostles, manifested a great concern and devotion for the Mother of the Lord, especially the Evangelist John the Theologian, who, fulfilling the will of Her Divine Son, took Her to himself and took care for Her as for a mother from the time when the Lord uttered to him from the Cross the words: "Behold thy mother."
The Evangelist Luke painted a number of images (icons) of Her, some together with the Pre-Eternal Child, others without Him. When he brought them and showed them to the Most Holy Virgin, She approved them and said: "The grace of My Son shall be with them," and repeated the hymn She had once sung in the house of Elizabeth: "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and My spirit hath rejoiced in God My Savior."
However, the Virgin Mary during Her earthly life avoided the glory which belonged to Her as the Mother of the Lord. She preferred to live quiet and prepare Herself for the departure into eternal life. To the last day of Her earthly life She took care to prove worthy of the Kingdom of Her Son, and before death, She prayed that He might deliver Her soul from the malicious spirits that meet human souls on the way to heaven and strive to seize them so as to take them away with them to Hades. The Lord fulfilled the prayer of His Mother and in the hour of Her death, Himself came from heaven with a multitude of Angels to receive Her soul.
The Apostles gave Her most pure body over to burial with sacred hymns, and on the third day, they opened the tomb so as once more to venerate the remains of the Mother of God together with the Apostle Thomas, who had arrived then in Jerusalem. But they did not find the body in the tomb and in perplexity they returned to their own place; and then, during their meal, the Mother of God Herself appeared to them in the air, shining with heavenly Light, and informed them that Her Son had glorified Her body also, and She, resurrected, stood before His Throne. At the same time, She promised to be with them always.
The Apostles greeted the Mother of God with great joy and began to venerate Her not only as the Mother of their beloved Teacher and Lord but also as their heavenly helper, as s protector of Christians and intercessor for the whole human race before the Righteous Judge. And everywhere the Gospel of Christ was preached, His Most-Pure Mother also began to be glorified. (The Orthodox Veneration of the Mother of God)
(To be continued)
A Pastoral Counsel: Orthodox Christians prepare themselves for the 'Summer Pascha,' the decapentavgousto (The first fifteen days in August) which dedicated to two major feast days, that of the Holy Transfiguration of the Savior (August 6th), and the Holy Dormition (Koimisis) of the Theotokos August 15th. It is a time for Orthodox Christians to concentrate and dedicate themselves to fasting, prayer, and repentance. It is a time of spiritual renewal and personal spiritual evaluation and reflection.
As Saint John Maximovitch says Orthodox Christians love, honor and venerate the Mother of God. Veneration is not worship! Orthodox Christians worship only God the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
There are unbelievers that over the centuries set out to malign the Ever-Virgin Mary with all kinds of evil stories and unfounded rumors. From the very beginning of Her heavenly glory, there were outbursts of malice and hatred toward Her by Anti-Christians or enemies of Christianity.
Growing up I recall vividly how during this Lenten Season of the Komisis tis Theotokou (Dormition of the Theotokos) the churches were full of men, women, and children. I recall that except for the petitions that the priest offered during the Paraklesis (Supplication) divine service, the service itself was chanted by the congregation. The love, reverence, trust, and veneration from Orthodox Christian women for our Panagia were extraordinary. They, the women, felt a strong bond between themselves and the Mother of God. They felt that not only was She Mother of God but she was also one of them, a woman, a mother, a friend, an advocate. At times of fear, distress, illness, etc. they would turn to her first to intercede to her Son and God and to bring them or loved one healing. It was felt that she as a mother who also suffered pain seeing her Son on the Cross understood them and how they also felt and would come to their aid to save their child or children. Of course, throughout the centuries, the Mother of God has come to the aid of countless Orthodox Christians and they were the recipients and witnesses of many miracles which continue so today. The Mother of God will never abandon the human race and as our loving heavenly Mother will continue to intercede for us to her Son and God and for the salvation of all of mankind.
It is most important that we continue to venerate her and to seek her life-saving intercessions as long as we live.
Make sure that you present me with the Orthodox Baptismal names of your family members and those who are ill and suffering so that I may include them in the Paraklesis service on the first 13 days of the August Fast. Please make sure that you also attend and participate in the holy services.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" - Saint John Chrysostomos
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God