THE ORTHODOX VENERATION OF MARY, THE BIRTHGIVER OF GOD


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, others 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 had once sung in the house of Eliza­beth: “My soul doth mag­nify the Lord, and My spi­rit hath rejoi­ced in God My Saviour.”

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 into eter­nal life. The Apost­les gave Her most pure body over to burial with sacred hymns, and on the third day they ope­ned the tomb so as once more to 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 Apost­les gre­e­ted the Mot­her of God with great joy and began to vene­rate Her not only as the Mot­her of their belo­ved Tea­cher and Lord, but also as their hea­venly hel­per, as a pro­tector of Chri­sti­ans and inter­ces­sor for the whole human race before the Righ­teous Judge. And eve­rywhere the Gospel of Christ was prea­ched, His Most Pure Mot­her also began to be glorified....( St John Maximovitch)


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