My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
THE HOLY DORMITION (KOIMISIS) OF THE
MOTHER OF GOD (Part II)
By Saint Gregory Palamas
What words can describe your divinely-radiant beauty, O Virgin Mother of God? We cannot circumscribe you in our words and thoughts, for everything about you surpasses our speech and understanding. But, with your loving permission, we may sing your praises. In you, all graces find a place. You are the fullness of everything noble and good, a living picture worthy and icon of all goodness and kindness, for you alone were found worthy of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in their entirety, or rather, you alone had mysteriously dwelling in your womb Him in Whom all these gifts were stored. In a way past understanding, you became His Tabernacle, and now through death you proceed hence to immortality and are fittingly translated from earth to heaven, to live with Him forever in the heavenly tabernacles. From there you care for your inheritance, and by our unsleeping intercessions, you reconcile as to your Son.
The Mother of God is so much closer to God than others who draw near to Him that She is able to intercede more powerfully than any of them, and by this I mean nor just human beings but even all the ranks of Angels. Isaiah writes of the highest order of Angels in heaven, "And the Seraphim stood round about Him" (Isaiah 6:2), whereas David says of the Mother of God, "Upon Thy right hand did stand the Queen" (Psalm 45:9). Do you notice the difference in their standingS? You can also see from this the difference in honor between the Seraphim’s rank and Hers, for the Seraphim are "round about" God, but ONLY the Queen of all stands beside Him. She is admired and praised by God Himself, as though He were extolling Her to the powers around Him in the words used in the Song of Songs, "How beautiful is my companion!" (cf. 4:1; 6:4). She is more brilliant than light, She blossoms more beautifully than the Garden of Divine Paradise, and She is more delightfully adorned than the visible and invisible worlds. It is fitting that She stands not just beside God, but on His right hand, for where Christ sat in heaven, namely, having ascended from earth to heaven. Nor is this solely because no one longs for Christ as She does, and no one is so longed for in return, which would be in accordance with the laws of nature, but because She is truly His Throne; and where the King sits, there stands the Throne.
Prophet Isaiah saw this Throne in the midst of the Choir of Cherubim, and described it as "high and lifted up" (Isaiah 6:1), thus indicating that the Mother of God had risen higher than the heavenly powers. For that reason, he refers to the Angels themselves glorifying God for Her and saying, "Blessed be the glory of the Lord from His place" (Ezekiel 3:12). The Patriarch Jacob, seeing obscure glimpses of this Throne, said, "How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the House of God, and this is the Gate of Heaven" (Genesis 28:17). Elsewhere, David, uniting in himself all the multitude of the saved, and using as different strings or notes all those brought together from diverse races into one faith by the Ever-Virgin, plays a most harmonious song to Her, and the words, "I will make Thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise Thee forever, even for ever and ever" (Psalm 45:17).
Notice how all creation praises the Virgin Mother, not just in past times, but "for ever even for ever and ever". From this, we can see that She will never cease doing good to the whole of creation, not just to the human race, but also to the immaterial supernatural Hosts of Angels. The fact that they, like us, partake of and touch the intangible Divine Nature only through Her is clearly shown by Isaiah. For he did not see the Seraphim taking the live coal directly off the Altar, but picking it up with tongs, which he also used to touch his prophetic lips to purify them (Isaiah 6:6-7). This vision of the tongs is the same AS THE GREAT VISION WHICH MOSES SAW OF THE BUSH BURNING WITH FIRE BUT NOT CONSUMED (Exodos 3:2). Is there anyone who is unaware that the Virgin Mother IS BOTH THAT BUSH AND THOSE TONGS, WHICH HELD THE DIVINE FIRE WITHOUT BEING BURNT; FOR WAS IT NOT TO THIS VERY MYSTERY THAT THE ARCHANGEL MINISTERED AT HER CONCEPTION, WHICH UNITED THROUGH HER THE ONE WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD WITH THE RASE OF MEN, AND WHICH, THROUGH THIS INDESCRIBABLE UNION, HAS THROUGHLY CLEANSED US? She ALONE STANDS AT THE BORDER BETWEEN CREATED AND UNCREATED NATURE, AND NO ONE CAN COME TO GOD UNLESS HE IS TRULY ILLUMINED BY HER, THE TRUE LAMP OF DIVINE RADIANCE. "FOR GOD IS IN THE MIDST OF HERE", SAYS THE SCRIPTURE, "SHE SHALL NOT BE MOVED" (Psalm 46:5).
God requires us according to the measure of our love for Him, and he who lives the Son is loved by Him and by His Father, and becomes a place for them both to dwell, secretly living within him and going about with him, as the Lord promised (cf. John 4:22-23). But who could love the Son more than His Mother, Who did not just bear Him as Her Only Child, but gave birth alone to Him WITHOUT A HUSBAND, SUCH THAT HER PARENTAL LOVE WAS TWICE AS STRONG SINCE IT WAS NOT SHARED WITH A SPOUSE? Or who could be more loved by the Only-Begotten Son than His Mother, especially as He came forth ineffably from Her alone in the last times, as He had come forth from the Father alone before time began? How could He Who came down to fulfill the Law (cf. Matthew 5:17) fail to increase many times over, in addition to the loving disposition of a son, the honor due to His Mother under the Law?
Just as it was only through Her that the Son came to us, was seen on earth, and lived among men, after previously being invisible to all, so from now on for endless eternity all progress towards the manifestation of Divine Light, every revelation of Divine Mysteries, and all forms of spiritual gifts are beyond everyone’s grasp without Her. She was THE FIRST TO RECEIVE THE ALL-PERVADING FULLNESS OF HIM WHO FILLS ALL THINGS (Ephesians 1:23; cf 4:10), and She brought Him within reach of all, distributing to each as he is able to receive, in proportion to the measure of his purity, such that She is both the Treasure-House and Mistress of God’s riches.
It is an Eternal custom in heaven that those who are lesser should participate through those who are greater in what lies beyond existence, and the Virgin Mother is INCOMPARABLY GREATER THAN ALL. So as many as will share in God will do so THROUGH HER, all those who know God WILL KNOW HER AS THE ONE WHO HOLDS HIM WHOM NOTHING CAN CONTAIN, AND ALL WHO SING GOD’S PRAISES WILL HYMN HER AFTER GOD. SHE IS THE CAUSE OF WHAT PRECEDED HER, THE PROTECTRESS OF WHAT COMES AFTER HER, AND SHE PROCURES ETERNITY. SHE IS THE PROPHETS’ THEME, THE APOSTLES’ STARTING POINT, THE MARTYRS’ MAINSTAY, AND THE TEACHERS’ FOUNDATION. OF ALL THOSE ON EARTH SHE IS THE GLORY OF THOSE IN HEAVEN THE DELIGHT, THE ADORNMENT OF ALL CREATION. SOURCE, FOUNT, AND ROOT OF INEFFABLE GOOD THINGS, SHE IS THE CROWN AND PERFECTION OF ALL THE SAINTS…
"…Therefore, O Lady generously share your mercy and your graces with all your people, your inheritance. Rescue us from the terrors that encompass us. See how many dangers of all kinds afflict us, from our own people and from strangers, from within and without. Through your power turn everything for the best. Bring mutual calm between fellow citizens at home, and drive away those who attack like wild beasts from outside. Bestow your aid and healing on us to counteract our passions, and give our souls and bodies abundant grace sufficient for every need. And if we are unable to contain it, increase our capacity and give us more, that saved and strengthened by your grace we may glorify the Pre-Eternal Logos/Word, Who took flesh from you for our sake, together with His Father without beginning and the Life-Giving Spirit, now and forever and unto unending ages. Amen. [Source: Saint Gregory Palamas. The HOMILIES]
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George