“The Lady and Mistress of the world”

My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

"The Lady and Mistress of the world"

O Virgin, Mother of God, Your dignity we glorify Your help we constantly implore,
Your miraculous icons. O Mother of all graces we venerate. Since you are the
hope of the world. In our needs do not despise our supplications, but deliver us
from misfortunes.

In the first centuries of the Church of Christ, the Truth of God the Logos/Word becoming man and His birth of the Virgin Mary was the catholic (universal) faith. Therefore, the Apostolic Holy 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). The Holy Fathers of the Church of the fourth century, Sts. Athanasius, Ephraim the Syrian, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Gregory of Nyssa, called the Most Holy Virgin the Theotokos.

In the Fifth Century, because of the heresy of Nestorius, the Church triumphantly confessed the Most Holy Virgin to be the Mother of God at the Third Ecumenical Synod, 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."

Saint Justin Martyr wrote: "[Christ] has become man by the Virgin, in order that by the same way in which the disobedience caused by the serpent took its beginning, by way should it also take its destruction. For Eve, being a virgin and incorrupt, conceived the word spoken of the serpent, and brought forth disobedience and death. But Mary the virgin receiving faith and grace when the Angel Gabriel brought her the Good News […] answered: "Be it unto me according to Thy word."

Saint Gregory Palamas said, "It was through the Theotokos that the Lord came to us." Also, St. Gregory wrote: "The Holy Theotokos alone in her body glorified by God, now enjoys the celestial realm together with her Son. For earth and grave and death did not hold forever her life-originating and God receiving body – the dwelling more favored than heaven… how can we not proclaim her pre-eminence to regard all creatures."

Proklos stated: "For if the mother had not remained a virgin, He Who was born would have been a mere man and the birth would not have been miraculous. If she had not remained a virgin after birth, how would have been God and how would this have been an ineffable mystery? He was born ineffably, entering harmlessly through closed doors […].

"Oh womb, in which the testament of our deliverence was composed,
Oh womb, in which the weapon against the Devil was fashioned,
Oh earth, in which the husbandman sprouted an ear of corn without seed,
Oh bemple, in which God became priest […]. -Proklos (an early prayer of praise)

"For behold all generations will call be blessed" (Luke 1:18)

For two thousand years, the Orthodox Church has preserved the devotion to the Ever-Virgin Mary as the prototype of all Christians–the Model of what we are to become in Christ. The Most Holy Mother of God was pure and unconditionally obedient to the Almighty God. The Holy Tradition of the Church teaches that she remained a virgin ALL HER LIFE. The Ever-Virgin’s spiritual purity, her wholehearted devotion to God, is to be emulated by all Christians.

The All-Holy Mother of God is also our Model par excellence in that she was THE FIRST PERSON TO RECEIVE JESUS CHRIST. As the Theotokos bore her Son Jesus Christ in her sacred womb physically, all Orthodox Christians now have the blessing and honor of bearing God WITHIN THEM SPIRITUALLY. By God’s grace and mercy we are purified and empowered to become like Him.

The honor we give to the Ever-Virgin Mary also signifies our beliefs of who Jesus Christ is. From ancient times the Orthodox Church has called her the Mother of God (Gk. THETOKOS), a title which implies that her Son IS TRULY FULLY MAN AND FULLY GOD. As His Mother, Panagia was THE SOURCE OF JESUS’ HUMAN NATURE; YET THE One she bore in her womb WAS ALSO THE ETERNAL GOD.

It is therefore proper and especially correct because of her role in God’s plan of salvation,, Orthodox Christians appropriately honor her AS THE FIRST AMONG THE SAINTS. The holy Archangel Gabriel initiated this honor in his address to her "Rejoice, HIGHLY FAVORED ONE, THE LORD IS WITH YOU, BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN!" (Luke 1:28). This salutation clearly indicates that God Himself HAD CHOSEN TO HONOR MARY. Her favored status was confirmed when she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was then six months pregnant with John the Baptist. Saint Elizabeth greeted Mary with these words: "BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN, AND BLESSED IS THE FRUIT OF YOUR WOMB! But why is this granted me, THAT THE MOTHER OF MY LORD SHOULD COME TO ME?" (Luke 1:42-43). And Mary herself, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, PREDICTED THE HONOR THAT WOULD BE PAID TO HER THROUGHOUT HISTORY: "FOR BEHOLD, HENCEFORTH ALL GENERATIONS WILL CALL ME BLESSED" (Luke 1:48).

In obedience to God’s clear intention, therefore, our Holy Orthodox Church HONORS the Ever-Virgin Mary IN HYMNS, ICONS AND SPECIAL FEAST DAYS SUCH AS HER DORMITION (KOIMISIS). We entreat and supplicate her as the human being who was most intimate with our Lord Jesus Christ on earth, TO INTERCEDE WITH HER SON AND GOD ON OUR BEHALF. We ask her, AS THE FIRST BELIEVER and the Mother of the Church, FOR GUIDANCE AND PROTECTION. We, Orthodox Christians, VENERATED HER–but WE DO NOT WORSHIP HER; FOR WORSHIP BELONGS TO GOD ALONE.

In Orthros (Matins), Esperinos (Vespers), and all divine services of the hours of prayer, we chant the following hymn, which expresses the Ever-Virgin Mary’s unique place in God’s creation.

It is truly right to bless you, O Theotokos, Ever-Blessed and Most Pure,
and the Mother of our God. More Honorable than the Cherubim, and more
glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim, without defilement you gave
birth TO GOD the Logos/Word: True Theotokos, we magnify you.

_____________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

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