“I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord.” (Ps 115:4 / Ps116:13)
This Psalm-verse functions as the “Communion Verse” for all of our church-feasts in honor of the Mother of God, including the feast of the Protection (Покрова) of the Most-Holy Virgin and Mother of God, celebrated today by those of us on the Older Calendar. Why? - And I don’t mean “why” the Older Calendar, although that is a good question, ☺ - but why this verse for all Marian feasts?
The Mother of God is being praised for the “cup” of the cross, of which He prayed on that night in Gethsemane, that it be taken from Him, if possible (Mt 26:39). She co-carried the cross, with her Divine Son, to an extent greater than any other Christian, than any other co-car...
“Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic (χιτὼν) was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They said therefore among themselves, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,’ that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: ‘They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.’” (Jn 19: 23-4; Ps 21/22: 18)
On this Friday, the day of the crucifixion, let me reflect a bit on this humiliating detail of my Lord’s passion: the dividing of His “garments” (outer clothing) and casting of lots for His “tunic” (the undergarment), the removal of which left His body naked.
“Your Nativity, O Virgin, / Has proclaimed joy to the whole universe! / The Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, / Has shone from You, O Theotokos! / Having annulled the curse (καὶ λύσας τὴν κατάραν, и разрушив клятву), / He bestowed a blessing. / By destroying death, He has granted us eternal Life.” (Byzantine Troparion-Hymn of the Nativity of the Theotokos)
What is meant here by the unpleasant word, “curse” (κατάρα, клятва)? It refers to our human state of affairs before the stepping into our shoes of God’s Only-Begotten Son. Now, according to Merriam-Webster, a “curse” is: “misfortune or evil that comes as if in response to imprecation (a malediction) or as retribution.“
But the above-quoted hymn gives me a simpler explanation of our “curse,“ by juxtapo...