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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

     

  “…for he has regarded the humility of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.” (Lk 1: 48, The “Song” of the Theotokos, Песнь Богородицы)

     Is this a “humble” statement, I mean, the part about “henceforth all generations will call me blessed”? Of course it is, because the Mother of God said it. But I think, mainly because of our misconceptions of “humility,” were anyone else to make mention of their fame, let alone anticipate their future fame, “henceforth,” in “all generations,” we would probably find such words “not humble,” at the very least.

     “Humility,” however, does not mean being blind to our gifts or blessings, but rather seeing them in the proper light, and that is, as given by God, and with heartfelt gratitude t...

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

    “‘When these days are over it shall be, on the eighth day and thereafter, that the priests shall offer your burnt offerings and your peace offerings on the altar; and I will accept you,’ says the Lord God. Then He brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary which faces toward the east, but it was shut. And the Lord said to me, ‘This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut…’” (Ezek 43: 27 – 44: 2)

     This is one of the three Old-Testament readings at the Vespers-service of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple, celebrated today (OC). The three readings are called “Paremia-s“ (паремии) in Slavonic, from the Greek word “παροιμία,“ meaning “parable.“ Th...

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

     “Neither the tomb, nor death could hold the Theotokos, / Who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions. / For being the Mother of Life, / She was translated to life by the One who dwelt in her ever-virginal womb.” (Kontakion-hymn of the Dormition of the Theotokos)

     Just as St. Peter said about the Source of Life, our risen Lord, that “it was impossible” that He should be “held” by death (Acts 2: 24), we sing in the above-quoted hymn that death “could not hold” the Mother of Life. As one with a unique role in Salvation History, the Mother of God also has a unique, personal “salvation history”: She experienced Pentecost “before” anyone else, at the Annunciation (cf. Lk 1: 35, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you…”), and the Holy Virgin also received the gr...

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

     “As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!’ But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’” (Lk 11: 27-28)

     The unnamed “woman in the crowd” who raised her voice and blessed Mary, the most-holy Theotokos, is pointing out the unique, inimitable part of Mary’s vocation, which was giving birth to our Lord Jesus Christ, in the flesh. But none of us share that specific vocation with the one-and-only Mother of God, so we can’t “relate” to it, really, – and by “really” I mean that we can not, nor are we called to, follow the Holy Virgin in that vocation, unique in all of Salvation History. “We” have never given birth to, nor will ever give birth...

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt have I called my son.’ Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!’ But he said, ‘Yes rather (Μενοῦν), blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’” (Lk 11: 27-28)

Is our Lord denying the “blessedness” of His Mother, in reply to the woman in the crowd who just “blessed” the Theotokos? No. But He is drawing the attention of this woman-in-the-crowd to the kind of “blessedness” she, personally, and everyone else in the “crowd” of Christ’s followers, including us today, are called to share with the Birth-giver of God. Lest we subtly dismiss the journey of the Holy Virgin, as one irrelevant to us, made in a galaxy far, far away.

While nobody shares in the Theotokos’s unique vocation, to be “the womb that bore”...

Monday, January 9, 2017

Most Holy Theotokos, save us!” (Byzantine prayer)

What, exactly, are we asking for in this prayer? Are we calling for another human being, Mary, to “save” us, as only our One Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ can?

No. We are calling for the “Birth-Giver of God” in the flesh, the “Theo-tokos,” in Her unique ministry of bringing Him into the world, to bring us His salvation. He willed it to “save” the world in His incarnation, coming to us through Her over 2,000 years ago. And we believe in Him as in One Who continues to come to us, to “come again” and again (καὶ πάλιν ἐρχόμενον, и паки грядущаго) as the incarnate Lord.

Thus when we say, “Most Holy Theo-tokos, save us!” – and not “Mary, save us!” – we are calling also upon His name, the name of “God” incarnate, Who has brought us His salvation not...

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