Veneration of the Virgin Mary, Part 7

This is Part 7 of a seven (7) part series on The Veneration of the Virgin Mary, also called the Mother of God, or Theotokos (Greek for God Bearer) in the Orthodox Christian Church.

Part 1     Part 2   Part 3    Part 4    Part 5    Part 6    Part 7

Related blog posts on Jesus Christ’s Geneology:  Women in Jesus’ Geneology  also, Old Testament Priesthood as compared to New Testament Priesthood.

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PART 7

The Virgin Mary is venerated in the Orthodox Church not because she is the greatest exception, but because she is the greatest example. (Unknown)

The Orthodox Faith venerates the Mother of God utilizing Old Testament prefiguring images of her in the hymnody of the Church to teach the faithful about God’s Divine Plan for the Redemption of His People through her.   She is worthy of veneration because she is the beauty and excellency of all of the generations of Israel who in the fullness of time prepared herself so she could receive her own Salvation while accepting to bring salvation of all mankind into the world through the Incarnation of God, “Behold, the maidservant of the Lord!  Let it be to me according to your word” at the Annunciation of God coming to Earth to save His people which prefigure the words of Rev. 22:20 of the Church awaiting the Second Coming of the Savior: “Amen ….. Come Lord Jesus”

Throughout these classes, we spoke of how the Virgin Mary is the perfect example of a person traveling the road to Theosis, union with God, and we also pointed out that this will only be fully realized at the Second Coming of the Lord.  We learned that the essence of what we were created to be, our humanity, will not change at the Second Coming.  It instead will still be entirely human…but in a new and glorious form.  It will be the form in which God originally created man in the beginning.  With regard to Theosis, St Anastasios says “….That which is of God is that which has been lifted up to a greater glory without its own nature being changed.”[1]

In an Orthodox wedding service there are two parts, the first part is the Betrothal.  In Old Testament Israel, the Betrothal was a legal and binding promise and the “couple” was considered married even though the consummation of the marriage (the Crowning) had not come to fruition.  The Church of the present age is the betrothed of God awaiting the consummation of the marriage with Her Bridegroom (the crowning) in her life to come.

It is my hope that these lessons have been of some benefit in understanding how the Orthodox Tradition of the veneration of the Mother of God is a natural fulfillment of the Old Testament narratives as heard in the Liturgical tradition of the Orthodox faith.

The Theotokos is the Bride of God, the Mother of God, the New Jerusalem, the Church, the Mother of all Christians, the Protection of Christians, and the Mediatress of Christians before the throne of Her Son.  She is worthy of veneration by the members of the Body of Her Son (the Church) because through her perfect obedience to the will of God, she freely cooperated with divine grace in order to be able to travel the road of union with God.  Because of her perfect obedience to the will of God, our humanity was joined with God’s Divinity through the incarnation of His Son, Jesus Christ, and raised to the heights of God.  Because of the Theotokos’ perfect obedience to God, we too may have the opportunity to freely cooperate with Divine Grace for the salvation of our souls.

Scriptural Passages and Hymnody for this part
New Testament Old Testament Hymnody
John 3:23-3:35

Rev.19:7

Rev. 21:2

Rev. 21:9

Rev. 22:17

Romans 7:1-6

Mt 22:1-14

2Cor 11:2

Eph 5:22-32

1 Cor 5:7

Mt 22:2

Mt. 25:1-13

Mt 5:12

1 Pet  4:13

Rev. 19:9

Rev. 3:4,

Rev. 3:5;

Rev. 7:14

Rev. 19:8

Rev. 19:9

Mt 26:29

Lk 13:29

Lk 22:30

Mt 5:18

Mk 13:31

1 Co 7:31

2 Pet 3:10-13

1 Jn 2:17

Rev. 5:9

Rev. 21:5

Rom 8:19-22

2 Cor 5:17

2 Pt 3:13

Heb 11:10

2 Cor 6:16

Rev. 22:20

Rev. 22:17

Is 54:1-8

Ezk 16:7-14

Hos 2:1-23

Hos 2:19

Is 65:17-25

Is 2:1-4

Jer 38:33

 

Ninth Ode from Pascha

 

Excerpts from the Divine Liturgy, Matins and Vespers.

 

 

End.

Glory to God for all things +

Bibliography

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Dalmais, Irénée Henri, Pierre Jounel, and Aimé Georges Martimort. The Liturgy and Time. New  Edited by A. G. Martimort, I. H. Dalmais and P. Jounel. Collegeville, Minn.: The Liturgical Press, 1986

Edersheim, Alfred. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. Nabu Press, 2011

Hapgood, Isabel Florence, ed. Service Book Of The Holy Orthodox-Catholic Apostolic Church. 5th ed. Englewood, NJ: Antiochian Orthodox Christian Arch., 1996

Kangelaris, Demetri, and Nicholas Kasemeotes, trans. The Service of the Small Paraklesis to the Most Holy Theotokos. Brookline, MA.: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1997

Elowsky, Joel C., and Thomas C. Oden, eds. Ancient Christian Commentary On Scripture: New Testament Iva John 1-10. Downers Grove, IL.: InterVarsity Press, 2006.

Fiorenza, Elisabeth Schussler. The Book of Revelation, Justice and Judgment. Philadelphia: Fortress Pr, 1985.

Hainsworth, Fr. John. “The Ever Virginity of the Mother of God.” Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith9174 (accessed November 1, 2011

Harakas, Stanley Samuel. The Orthodox Church: 455 Questions and Answers. Minneapolis, Minn.: Light & Life Pub Co, 1988

Harrington, Wilfrid J. Revelation (Sacra Pagina Series – Paperback). Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2008

Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible. Translated by James Hastings.  Hendrickson Publishers, 2005.

Hapgood, Isabel Florence, Service Book of the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Apostolic Church. Englewood, New Jersey: Antiochian Orthodo Christian Archdiocese of North America, 1996

Josephus, Flavius. The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem. Teddington, Middlesex TW118HH, Echo Library, 2009.

Kronstadt, St. John. My Life in Christ, or Moments of Spiritual Serenity and Contemplation, of Reverent Feeling, of Earnest Self-Amendment, and of Peace in God. Kindle Edition, 2011. http://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Serenity-Contemplation-Reverent-Self-Amendment/dp/0884650189 (accessed November 15, 2011)

Leondis, Rev. Alexander G., Rev. Socrates C. Tsamutalis, and Rev. James C. Moulketis, trans. The Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom and Hymnal. Midland Park, NJ.: NIKA Publishing, 1989.

Lossky, Vladimir. In the Image and Likeness of God. Edited by John H. Erickson. Crestwood, N.Y.: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2001

Mary, Mother, and Archimandrite Kallistos Ware, trans. The Festal Menaion. South Canaan, Pennsylvania: St Tikhons Seminary Pr, 1998

Maximos of Pittsburgh, His Eminence Metropolitan. “The Dogmatic Tradition of the Orthodox Church.” Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith8038 (accessed November 13, 2011

Maximovitch, St. John, and John Maximovitch. The Orthodox Veneration of Mary the Birthgiver of God. 4 Revised ed. Platina, CA: Saint Herman Pr, 1997

Meyendorff, John. Marriage: an Orthodox Perspective. 2d expanded ed. Crestwood, NY: St Vladimirs Seminary Press, 2000

Monastery, Holy Transfiguration, trans. The Great Horologion: Book of Hours. Brookline, MA.: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1997.

Packer, A.M., D.Phil., James I., Merrill C. Tenney, A.M., Ph.D., and William White, Jr., Th.M., Ph.D., eds. The Bible Almanac. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1980.

Patriarch of Alexandria, St. Cyril. Commentary On the Gospel of Saint Luke. Translated by R. Payne Smith. Studion Publishers, Inc., 1983

Roberts, Rev. Alexander, and James Donaldson, eds. Apocryphal Gospels, Acts and Revelations. Translated by Alexander Walker, Esq. Vol. 16 of Ante-Nicene Christian Library: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to Ad 325. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing LLC, 2004.

Schaff, D.D., LL.D., Philip, and Henry Wace, D.D., eds. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: The Seven Ecumenical Councils. Vol. 14. Peabody, MA.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994.

Schmemann, Alexander. For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy. Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004.

Schmemann, Alexander. Of Water: A Liturgical Study of Baptism. Crestwood, NY: St.Vladimir Seminary Press, 2000

Schmemann, Alexander. The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy. Crestwood, N.Y.: St Vladimirs Seminary Pr, 1997

St. John the Baptist, Essex, UK, The Stavropegic Monastery. Mary the Mother of God: Sermons by Saint Gregory Palamas. Edited by Christopher Veniamin. South Canaan, PA.: Mount Thabor Publishing, 2005.

Stavropoulos, Archimandrite Christoforos. Partakers of Divine Nature. Translated by Rev. Dr. Stanley Harakas. Minneapolis, MN.: Light and Life Publishing Company, 1976

Tarazi, Paul Nadim. Historical Traditions. Vol. 1 of The Old Testament: An Introduction. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1991.

Tarazi, Paul Nadim. The New Testament: an Introduction, Johannine Writings, Crestwood, N.Y.: St Vladimir’s Seminary Pr, 2004.

Tarazi, Paul Nadim. The Old Testament, Introduction: Prophetic Traditions. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1994.

Tenney, Merrill C., Steven Barabas, and Peter deVisser, eds. Pictorial Bible Dictionary. Nashville, Tennessee: The Southwestern Company, 1975.

The Festal Menaion. South Canaan, Pennsylvania: St Tikhons Seminary Pr, 1990

Vaporis, translated by N. Michael. The Service of the Sunday Orthros. Brookline, Mass.: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1991

Vaporis, N. Michael, and Evie Zachariades-Holmberg. “The Akathist Hymn and Small Compline.” Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. http://www.goarch.org/chapel/liturgical_texts/vaporis_akathist (accessed September 14, 2011)

Weinrich, William C., and Thomas C. Oden, eds. Ancient Christian Commentary On Scripture New Testament XII Revelation. Downers Grove, IL.: Inter-varsity Press, 2005.

Wilcock, Michael. The Message of Revelation: I Saw Heaven Opened. Leicester, England.: IVP Academic, 1984

Wilson, Mark. Charts On the Book of Revelation: Literary, Historical, and Theological

Perspectives (Kregel Charts of the Bible and Theology). Grand Rapids, MI.:  Kregel Academic & Professional, 2007

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END.

GLORY TO GOD FOR ALL THINGS.

 

Veneration of the Virgin Mary Part 5

This is Part 5 of a seven (7) part series on The Veneration of the Virgin Mary, also called the Mother of God, or Theotokos (Greek for God Bearer) in the Orthodox Christian Church.

Part 1     Part 2   Part 3    Part 4    Part 5    Part 6    Part 7

Related blog posts on Jesus Christ’s Geneology: Women in Jesus’ Geneology also, Old Testament Priesthood as compared to New Testament Priesthood.

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God’s Divine plan for man’s salvation culminated in the birth of the Virgin Mary who was the beauty and excellency of all of the generations of Israel.  From the time of the Virgin Mary’s birth she was identified with the Community of Israel, both the community of the Old Covenant and the community of the New Covenant; and she is venerated in the Church’s hymnody as the Temple and Ark of God, the Mother of God, the New Jerusalem, and the Mother of the Church.

The Virgin Mary is one flesh with her Divine Son, Jesus Christ.  Since the Virgin Mary is the Lord’s Mother, the Lord took his humanity, body and blood, from her.  The Virgin Mary is a reflection of the divine image which God had given mankind in the beginning of creation.   She is one flesh with her Divine Son.  The Church teaches that the Orthodox Christian becomes a child of the Lord by adoption and puts on the new nature of Jesus Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism.  In Gal 3:26 – 4:7, St. Paul directly relates the Sacrament of Baptism as the path to becoming one with Christ Jesus.   When a person is baptized, they put on Christ and are baptized into His Body, the Church.  In other words, through baptism, the faithful enter the Church and become sanctified members of the mystical body of Christ, one flesh with the Lord.   When a person is baptized, the major Hymn that is sung at Baptism is “Osi is Christon…”  “All who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”  This hymn comes from the New Testament St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians 3:27.   Many Orthodox biblical scholars think the hymn of, “Osi is Christon…” was already being sung at the early Christian baptisms during the procession of the newly regenerated into the assembly.  This hymn continues to be sung at every Orthodox baptismal service to this day[1].

After the Sacrament of Baptism, the Christian begins and long a difficult journey to salvation.  The baptized Christian must struggle with his free will so that in true cooperation with God, he will be able to reach the condition of unity with God.  This condition of untiy with God is called, Theosis, which is the process of choosing that all of the Christian’s opinions, thoughts, words actions, their whole life, is turned in God’s direction.

Since Mary Theotokos is one flesh with her divine Son, she is therefore, necessarily the Mother of those baptized into His body, the Church.   The Holy Eucharist is a concrete realization of the unity of human nature with Christ, and concurrently, of unity with all the members of the Church.  When the Christian partakes of Holy Communion, he/she mystically partakes of the Body and Blood of the Savior – we relive the miracle of His divine incarnation through Mary, Theotokos.   When the Lord clothed himself with humanity’s flesh and blood through the Virgin Mary, the Lord perfected humanity.  He made perfect the Old Covenant in the now New Covenant, by uniting humanity with his Divinity and transfiguring it into a new and glorious form.  When the faithful partake of the Lord in Holy Communion, they become by mystical Grace, part of His body and blood, and become united with the members of the church, the body of Christ, the New Jerusalem, and God becomes their Father and the Theotokos becomes their mother.  Eve, as the mother of the race of Adam, became subject to the devil, death and corruption.  However, the Virgin Mary, Theotokos, Eve’s anti-type, is the Mother of Christians who are freed from the destructive influences and powers of evil, having become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4).

The Orthodox faith has taught for centuries that the Mother of God is our Mother too.   St. Gregory Palamas in his Homily 37 on the Dormition of the Mother of God, says, “the Mother of us all” for she “alone, placing herself between God and the whole human race….she stands on the borders of created and uncreated nature, being the first to realize in her own life the fact of human divinization, she represents the way and the prototype of the God-oriented man.”

God’s Divine plan for man’s salvation culminated in the birth of the Virgin Mary who was the beauty and excellency of all of the generations of Israel.  From the time of the Virgin Mary’s birth she was identified with the Community of Israel, both the community of the Old Covenant and the community of the New Covenant; and she is venerated in the Church’s hymnody as the Temple and Ark of God, the Mother of God, the New Jerusalem, and the Mother of the Church.

[1] Note:  “Osi is Christon…” is also chanted in the Church at the Feast days of Christmas, Epiphany, St. John the Baptist, The Saturday of Lazarus, Easter and Pentecost.

Related blog posts on Jesus Christ’s Geneology:  Women in Jesus’ Geneology  also, Old Testament Priesthood as compared to New Testament Priesthood.

 

Sacred Space: The Architecture and Space of a Byzantine Church

Within the narrative of faith itself, everything within the Byzantine temple is designed with biblical and theologically centered meaning to define a sacred space where a person may have an experience of being in the presence of God.

This video explores the history of the early Christian communities, Byzantine Church Architecture, Iconography, and the use of icons within the Eastern Orthodox Christian perspective.

 

Eastern Orthodox Christian Timeline with Brief Explanation of the Seven Great Ecumenical Councils

This is a convenient Eastern Orthodox Christian Timeline that provides a very brief explanation of some of the decisions of the Seven Great Ecumenical Councils that were held during the first 1000 years of Christianity.

Orthodox Christian Timeline with brief explanation of Seven Great Ecumenical Councils
Orthodox Christian Timeline with brief explanation of Seven Great Ecumenical Councils

The Nicene Creed of Faith in Greek, Phonetics, and English

It is a common fact in English speaking countries that English Translations of the Nicene Creed of Faith used in the Greek Orthodox Church deviates considerably from one text to another.  They all say essentially the same thing but use different, sometimes complex, English words in the translation.  What absolutely never changes is the original Greek language in which it was written.   Below is an English phonetic interpretation for those of you who may not read the Greek alphabet but would like to learn to say the Nicene Creed of Faith in the original Greek language.  Since English phonetics can be challenging to read as well, a video is provided with my voice saying the Nicene Creed of Faith very slowly in Greek so you can easily follow the phonetics along.

Click Here For a printable Nicene Creed in Greek, English Phonetics, and English

GREEK:
Πιστεύω είς ενα Θεόν, Πατέρα, παντοκράτορα, ποιητήν ουρανού καί γής, ορατών τε πάντων καί αοράτων. Καί είς ενα Κύριον, Ίησούν Χριστόν, τόν Υιόν του Θεού τόν μονογενή, τόν εκ του Πατρός γεννηθέντα πρό πάντων τών αιώνων. Φώς εκ φωτός, Θεόν αληθινόν εκ Θεού αληθινού γεννηθέντα, ού ποιηθέντα, ὁμοούσιον τώ Πατρί, δι’ ού τά πάντα εγένετο. Τόν δι’ ημάς τούς ανθρώπους καί διά τήν ημετέραν σωτηρίαν κατελθόντα εκ τών ουρανών καί σαρκωθέντα εκ Πνεύματος ‘Αγίου καί Μαρίας τής Παρθένου καί ενανθρωπήσαντα. Σταυρωθέντα τε υπέρ ημών επί Ποντίου Πιλάτου καί παθόντα καί ταφέντα. Καί αναστάντα τή τρίτη ημέρα κατά τάς Γραφάς. Καί ανελθόντα είς τούς ουρανούς καί καθεζόμενον εκ δεξιών τού Πατρός. Καί πάλιν ερχόμενον μετά δόξης κρίναι ζώντας καί νεκρούς, ού τής βασιλείας ουκ εσται τέλος. Καί είς τό Πνεύμα τό ¨Αγιον, τό Κύριον, τό ζωοποιόν, τό εκ τού Πατρός εκπορευόμενον, τό σύν Πατρί καί Υιώ συμπροσκυνούμενον καί συνδοξαζόμενον, τό λαλήσαν διά τών Προφητών. Είς μίαν, αγίαν, καθολικήν καί αποστολικήν Έκκλησίαν. ‘Ομολογώ εν βάπτισμα είς άφεσιν αμαρτιών. Προσδοκώ ανάστασιν νεκρών. Καί ζωήν τού μέλλοντος αιώνος. Άμήν.

GREEK USING PHONETICS:

Pistévo is éna Théon, Patéra Pantokrátora, Piitín ouranoú ke ghis, oratón te pánton ke aoráton. Ke is éna Kyrion Iisoún Christón ton Ión tou Theoú, ton monoghení, ton ek tou Patrós gennithénta pró pánton ton eónon.  Fós ek Fotós, Theón alithinón ek Theoú alithinoú, gennithénta ou piithénta, omooúsion to Patrí, di ou ta Pánta egéneto. Ton di imás tous anthrópous ke diá tin imetéran sotirían, kathelthónta ek ton ouranón ke sarkothénta ek Pnévmatos Aghíou ke Marías tis Parthénou ke enathropísanta. Stavrothénta te ipér imón epí Pontíou Pilátou, ke pathónta ke tafénta. Ke anastánta ti tríti iméra katá tas Grafás.  Ke anelthónta is tous ouranoús, ke Kathezómenon ek dexión tou Patrós. Ke pálin erhómenon metá dóxis kríne zóntas ke nekroús; ou tis Vasilías ouk éste télos.  Ke is to Pnévma to Ághion, to Kyrion, to Zoopión, to ek tou Patrós ekporevómenon, to sin Patrí ke Ió sinproskinoúmenon ke sindoxazómenon, to lalísan diá ton Profitón.  Is Mían, Agían, Katholikín ke Apostolikín Ekklisían.   Omologó en Váptisma is áfesin amartión. Prosdokó anástasin nekrón. Ke zoín tou méllontos eónos. Amin.

Official English Translation of the Creed of Faith as adopted by the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 2004
I believe in one God, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not created, of one essence with the Father through Whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried; And He rose on the third day, according to the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father; And He will come again with glory to judge the living and dead. His kingdom shall have no end. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Creator of life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who together with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, Who spoke through the prophets. In one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come. Amen.

References:  Greek Orthodox Archdiocese http://www.goarch.org/chapel/liturgical_texts/creed