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.
DOGMAS CONCERNING THE MOST HOLY MOTHER OF GOD ACCORDING TO THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH
Two dogmas concerning the Mother of God are bound up, in closest fashion, with the dogma of God the Logo's/Word's becoming man. They are (a) her Ever-virginity, and (b) her name Theotokos. They proceed immediately from the dogma of the unity of the Hypostasis of the Lord from the moment of His Incarnation--the Divine Hypostasis.
A. The Ever-Virginity of the Mother of God
The birth of the Lord Jesus Christ from a Virgin is testified to directly and deliberately by two Evangelists, Matthew and Luke. This dogma was entered into the Symbol of Faith (Creed) of the First Ecumenical Council, where we read: "Who for the sake of us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man." The Ever-virginity of the Mother of God is testified by her own words, handed down in the Gospel, where she expressed awareness of the immeasurable majesty and height of her closeness: "My soul doth magnify the Lord...For, behold, from henceforth all generation shall call me blessed... For He that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is His name" (Luke 1:46-49).
The Most Holy Virgin preserved in her memory and in her heart both the announcement of the Archangel Gabriel and the inspired words of righteous Elizabeth when she was visited by Mary: "And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? (Luke 1:43); both the prophecy of the righteous Symeon on meeting the Infant Jesus in the Temple and the prophecy of the righteous Anna on the same day (Luke 2:25-38). In connection with the account of the shepherds of Bethlehem concerning the words of the Angels to them, and of the singing of the Angels, the Evangelist adds: "But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19). The same Evangelist, having told of the conversation of the Most Holy Mother with the twelve-year-old Jesus after their visit to Jerusalem on the Feast of Pascha, ends his account with the words: "But His mother kept all these sayings in her heart" (Luke 2:51). The Evangelists speak also of the understanding of the majesty of her service in the world by the righteous Joseph, her espoused husband, whose actions were many times guided by an Angel.
When the heretics and simple blasphemers refuse to acknowledge the Ever-virginity of the Mother of God on the grounds that the Evangelists mention the "brothers and sisters of Jesus," they are refuted by the following facts from the Gospel:
(a) In the Gospels, there are named four "brothers" (James, Joses, Simon, and Jude), and there are also mentioned the "sisters" of Jesus--no fewer than three, as is evident in the words: and "His sisters, are they not all with us?" (Matthew 13:56).
On the other hand, (b) in the account of the journey to Jerusalem of the twelve-year-old boy Jesus, where there is mention of the "kinsfolk and acquaintances" (Luke 2:44) in the midst of whom they were seeking Jesus, and where it is likewise mentioned that Mary and Joseph every year journeyed from faraway Galilee to Jerusalem, no reason is given to think that there were present other younger children with Mary: it was thus that the first twelve years of the Lord's earthly life proceeded.
(c) When, about twenty years after the above-mentioned journey, Mary stood at the Cross of the Lord, she was alone, and she was entrusted by her Divine Son to His disciple John: and "from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home" (John 19:27). Evidently, as the ancient Christians also understood it, the Evangelists speak either of "half" brothers and sisters or of cousins."
B. The Most Holy Virgin Mary is Theotokos
With the dogma of the Son of God's becoming man is closely bound up the naming of the Most Holy Virgin Mary as Theotokos (Birth-giver of God). By this name the Church confirms its faith that God the Logos/Word became Man truly and not merely in appearance; a faith that, in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, God was joined to man from the very instant of His conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and that He, being perfect man, is also perfect God.
At the same time, the name of Theotokos is the highest name that exalts or glorifies the Virgin Mary.
The name "Theotokos" has a direct foundation in Sacred Scripture. The Apostle Paul writes:
(a) "When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman" (Galatians 4:4).
(b) "God was manifest in the flesh" (1 Timothy 3:16): the flesh was woven for God the Logos/Word by the Most Holy Virgin Mary.
At the meeting of the Virgin Mary, after the Annunciation, with the righteous Elizabeth, "Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she spake out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?...And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord" (Luke 1:41-45). Thus Elizabeth, being filled with the Holy Spirit, calls Mary the Mother of the Lord, the God of Heaven; it is precisely the God of Heaven that she is here calling "Lord," as is clear from her further words: "She that believed...those things which were told her from the Lord"---the Lord God.
In the first centuries of the Church of Christ, the Truth of God the Logo's/Word's becoming man and His birth of the Virgin Mary was the catholic faith. Therefore, the Apostolic Fathers expressed themselves thus: "Our God Jesus Christ was in the womb of Mary"; "God took flesh of the Virgin Mary" (Saint Ignatius the God-bearer, Saint Irenaeus). Exactly the same expressions were used by Sts. Dionysius and Alexander of Alexandria (3rd and 4th centuries). The Holy Fathers of the 4th century, Sts. Athanasius, Ephraim the Syrian, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Gregory of Nyssa, called the Most Holy Virgin the Theotokos.
The Third Ecumenical Council, accepting and confirming the following words of Saint Cyril of Alexandria: "If anyone will not confess that Immanuel is very God and that therefore the Holy Virgin is Theotokos, inasmuch as in the flesh she bore the Logos/Word of God made flesh: Let him be anathema" (Seven Ecumenical Council). (Source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky)
(To be continued)
"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
DIVINE SERVICE OF THE PARAKLESIS (SUPPLICATION) SERVICE TO THE THEOTOKOS:
Holy Dormition (Koimisis) of the Theotokos Chapel in New Carlisle at 7:00 p.m.
The service is conducted both in English and Greek. Please remember to bring me the names of the living members of your family, your friends and others.
O HOLY MOTHER OF GOD SAVE US