My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True Lord, God, and Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
The Veneration of the Mother of God
During Her Earthly Life.
By Saint John Maximovitch
FROM APOSTOLIC TIMES and to our days all who truly love Christ give veneration to Her Who gave birth to Him, raised Him and protected Him in the days of His youth. If God the Father chose Her, God the Holy Spirit descended upon Her, and God the Son dwelt in Her, submitted to Her in the days of His youth, was concerned for Her when hanging on the Cross–then should not everyone who confesses the Holy Trinity venerate Her?
Still in the days of Her earthly life the friends of Christ, the Apostles, manifested a great concern and devotion for the Mother of the Lord, especially the Evangelist John the Theologian, who, fulfilling the will of Her Divine Son, took Her to himself and took care for Her as for a mother from the time when the Lord uttered to him from the Cross, the words “Behold thy mother.”
The Evangelist Luke painted a number of images of Her, some together with the Pre-eternal Child, other without Him. When he brought them and showed them to the Most Holy Virgin, She approved them and said, “The grace of My Son shall be with them,” and repeated the hymn She has once sung in the house of Elizabeth: “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and My spirit hath rejoiced in God My Savior.”
However, the Virgin Mary during Her earthly life avoided the glory which belonged to Her as the Mother of the Lord. She preferred to live in quiet and prepare Herself for the departure into Eternal Life. To the last day of Her earthly life She took care to prove worthy of the Kingdom of Her Son, and before death She prayed that He might deliver Her soul from the malicious spirits that meet human souls on the way to heaven and strive to seize them so as to take them away with them to hades. The Lord fulfilled the prayer of His Mother and in the hour of Her death Himself came from heaven with a multitude of Angels to receive Her soul.
Since the Mother of God had also prayed that She might bid farewell to the Apostles, the Lord gathered for Her death all the Apostles, except Thomas, and they were brought by an invisible power on that day to Jerusalem from all the ends of the inhabited world, where they were preaching, and they were present at Her blessed TRANSLATION (METASTASIS) into Eternal Life.
The Apostles gave Her most pure body over the burial so as once more venerate the remains of the Mother of God together with the Apostle Thomas, who had arrived then in Jerusalem. But they did not find the body in the tomb and in perplexity they returned to their own place: and then, during their meal, the Mother of God Herself appeared to them in the air, shining with Heavenly Light, and informed them that Her Son had glorified Her body also, and She, resurrected, stood before His Throne. At the same time, She promised to be with them always.
The First Enemies of the Veneration of the Mother of God
The more the faith of Christ spread and the Name of the Savior of the world was glorified on earth, and together with Him also She Who was vouchsafed to be the Mother of God-Man, —the more did the hatred of the enemies of Christ increase towards Her. Mary was the Mother of Jesus. She manifested a hitherto unheard-of example of purity and righteousness, and furthermore, now departed from this life, She was a mighty support for Chrisstians, even though invisible to bodily eyes. Therefore all who hated Jesus Christ and did not believe in Him, who did not understand as the Church understood, who wished to replace the preaching of Christ with their own human reasonings–all of these transferred their hatred for Christ, for the Gospel and the Church, to the Most Pure Virgin Mary. They wished to belittle the Mother, so as thereby to destroy faith also in Her Son, to create a false picture of Her among men in order to have the opportunity to rebuild the whole Christian teaching on a different foundation. In the womb of Mary, God and man were joined. She was the One Who served as it were as the ladder for the Son of God Who descended from heaven. To strike a blow at Her Veneration means to strike Christianity at the root, to destroy it in its very foundation.
And the very beginning of Her heavenly glory was marked on earth by an outburst of malice and hatred toward Her by unbelievers. When, after Her holy repose, the Apostles were carrying Her body for burial in Gethsemane, to the place chosen by her, John the Theologian went ahead carrying the branch from Paradise which the Archangel Gabriel had brought to the Holy Virgin three days before this when he came from heaven to announce to Her Her approaching departure to the heavenly mansions.
The Nestorian Heresy and
The Third Ecumenical Council
When all those who had dared to speak against the sanctity and purity of the Most Holy Virgin Mary had been reduced to silence, an attempt was made to destroy Her Veneration as Mother of God. In the 5th century the Archbishop of Constantinople, Nestorius, began to preach that of Mary had been born only the man Jesus, in Whom the Divinity had taken abode and dwelt in Him as in a temple. At first he allowed his presbyter Anastasius and then he himself began to teach openly in church that one should not call Mary “Theotokos,” since She has not given birth to the God-Man. He considered it demeaning for himself to worship a child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
It was decided to convene an Ecumenical Council, at which hierarchs, gathered from the ends of the world, should decide whether the faith peached by Nestorius was Orthodox. The decree of the Council was the voice of the Ecumenical Church, which clearly expressed its faith that Christ, born of the Virgin, is the True God Who became man; and inasmuch as Mary gave birth to the PERFECT Man Who was at the same time PERFECT God, She rightly should be revered as THEOTOKOS (MOTHER OF GOD).
(To be continued)
“Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
+ + +
With sincere agape in His Divine and Glorious Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God