The Orthodox Veneration of the Mother of God (Part III)

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,


By Saint John Maximovitch of San Francisco

Mary told no one of the appearance of the Angel, but the Angel himself revealed to Joseph concerning Mary's miraculous conception from the Holy Spirit (St. Matthew 1:18-25); and after the Nativity of Christ, with a multitude of the heavenly host, he announced it to the shepherds. The shepherds, coming to worship the newborn One, said that they had heard of Him. Having previously endured suspicion in silence, Mary now also listened in silence and "kept in Her heart" the saying concerning the greatness of Her Son (St. Luke 2:8-19). She heard forty days later Symeon's prayer of praise and the prophecy concerning the weapon which would piece Her soul. Later She saw how Jesus advanced in wisdom; She heard Him at the age of twelve teaching in the Temple and everything She "kept in Her heart" (St. Luke 2:21-51).

Even though full of grace, She did not yet fully understand what the service and the greatness of Her Son would consist. The Hebrew conception of the Messiah was still close to Her, and natural feelings forced Her to be concerned for Him, preserving Him from labors and dangers which it might seem, were excessive. Therefore She favored Her Son involuntarily at first, which evoked His indication of the superiority of spiritual to bodily kinship (St. Matthew 12:46-49). "He had concern also over the honor of His Mother, but much more over the salvation of Her soul and the good of men, for which He had become clothed in the flesh (St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on John, Homily 21). Mary understood this and "heard the word of God and kept it" (St. Luke 11:27-28). As no other person, She had the same feelings as Christ (Phil. 2:5), unmurmuringly bearing the grief of a mother, when She saw Her son persecuted and suffering. Rejoicing in the day of the Resurrection, on the day of Pentecost she was clothed with "power from on high" (St. Luke 24:49). The Holy Spirit Who descended upon Her "taught (Her) all things" (St. John 14:26), and "instructed" (Her) in all truth" (St. John 16:13). Being enlightened, She began to labor all the more zealously to perform what She had heard from Her Son and Redeemer, so as to ascend to Him and to be with Him.

The end of the earthly life of the Most Holy Mother of God was the beginning of Her greatness. "Being adorned with Divine glory" (Irmos of the Canon of the Dormition). She stands and will stand, both in the day of the Last Judgment and in the future age, at the right hand of the Throne of Her Son. She reigns with Him and has boldness towards Him as His Mother according to the flesh, and as one in spirit with Him, as one Who performed the will of God and instructed others (St. Matthew 5:19). Merciful and full of love, She manifests Her love towards Her Son and God in love for the human race. She intercedes for it before the merciful one, and going about the earth, she helps men.

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 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 to the Hodigitria (Directress), "saving the world by Thine unceasing prayer" (Theotokion of the Third Tone).  "She says and night doth prays for us, and the scepters of kingdoms are confirmed by Her prayers" (daily Midnight Service).  

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). (Source: The Orthodox Veneration of the Mother of God)


"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

+Father George