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.

_________

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.