The veneration of the
Theotokos according to the Bible
By Archim. Cleopa Iilie
Testimonies of the Holy Bible for the special veneration of the Mother of the Lord.
Why we honour the Mother of the Lord.
We, Orthodox Christians honour the
Theotokos Mary more than all the saints and angels of heaven for she was found
worthy to give birth to Christ, the Saviour of the world by the overshadowing
of the Holy Spirit. The honour we render to the Mother of the Lord is
exceptional, most honourable and most revered, for she is not only "a friend of
His" same as the other Saints but she is Most Holy (Panagia) above all the
saints and all the angels.
For this the angels as much as the people venerate and honour her with prayers, hymns, church services and eulogies. Similarly the Archangel Gabriel greeted her at the annunciation (Luke 1:28-29) as well as Saint Elizabeth, the mother of Saint John the Baptist (Luke 1:40-43).
The Most Holy Virgin herself prophesied through the Holy Spirit "for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed; for He that is mighty has done to me great things ..... (Luke 1:48-49). From these words we understand the exceptional honour accorded to the Mother of the Lord is intentional and appointed by God Himself. This exceptional honour that is accorded by the Orthodox Church to the Ever Virgin Mary forms the veneration of the Mother of the Lord.
In the framework of the veneration of the Most Holy Theotokos, we firstly mention the great feasts of the Mother of God, which are: The birth of the Most Holy Theotokos, the Entry, the Annunciation, and the Dormition of the Theotokos. Then the services done in the Churches and the monasteries in her honour, the salutations, the canons of supplications, the hagiographic icons decorated so beautifully, especially the miraculous ones, and many other prayers through which we ask the help of the Mother of the Lord every day of our lives.
We honour the Mother of God because she is the mother who gave birth to the Son of God and the first one who intercedes for the world in the presence of the Most Holy Trinity. She helps us much more in the conquest of salvation by her holy prayers.
However in the long history, there appear some whom we call heretics or followers of other confessions (neoprotestants) who blasphemed her as much as they do the Saviour and His Bible.
The holy Apostle Paul in his epistles indicates that in the latter days will appear people who cannot tolerate the teaching of the true faith, but will place teachers agreeable to their works, the come close to fairy tales. Namely, while they see the true faith, they will deny her power, always preaching and not being able to reach the true faith; "Now, as Jannes and Jambes opposed Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds and reprobate of faith. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2Tim 3:8, 13).
We, since the creation of this nation that is how we are known, Romians and Orthodox Christians. That is how we were born and we are duty bound to maintain pure and complete whatever we inherited from our ancestors as from God Himself. For the Apostle Paul says: "therefore brethren stand fast and keep the traditions which you have been taught whether by word or our epistle" (2 Thess 2:15).
The Protestants and with them the heretic neoprotestants - followers of other contemporary confessions- of our day, the so called "the repented ones" among their many mind confusions and their false preaching, blaspheme far more the Most Holy Theotokos and the Ever Virgin Mary. These blasphemers of the Mother of the Lord say that we should not accord her great honour because her Son, Jesus Christ Himself did not render her any honour. Apparently from the words of the Saviour who said: "The one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, who is my mother? And who is my brethren? And He stretched forth his hand toward the disciples and said, Behold My mother and My brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of the Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother and sister and mother" (Matt 12:47-50).The fact then that the Virgin Mary was His mother had no significance to Him, His blood relationship or physical relation had no value or preference against His spiritual relationships with those who do the will of the Father, whosoever they may be.
Furthermore, they add that this is obvious from the way the Lord addressed her and during some other occasions He called her woman, which means she was married, namely not a virgin, for in this way the word of the Bible is verified "When Jesus therefore saw His mother and the disciple standing by, whom He loved, He saith unto His mother, Woman, behold thy son" (John 19:26). Moreover He contemptuously calls her at the wedding in Cana of Galilee, "Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? .... (John 2:4). Thus therefore in such a case we cannot consider her above all (Most Holy) and we cannot accord her a special veneration.
However, it is not like this as all those deceived of the truth believe, which they interpret according to their sick mind, full of egoism, for in the first instance it concerns something else and specifically, apart from the physical relationship, there is another relationship with Christ, much greater and important, which is the spiritual relationship, which involves doing of the will of God. This relationship however, does not cancel or diminish the physical one. The difference consists on the fact that the spiritual relationship anyone can acquire by doing the will of God. Relationship means not only the physical relationship but also a relationship of love and spiritual union. The one that does the will of God becomes a spiritual relative of God. Similarly through the above, the Saviour not only did not set aside His physical relationship with His Mother, nor did He diminish the honour that is due to a mother from her son but He only tried to stress the other relationship with Him. The spiritual, although of great value, can even be achieved by any faithful.
Consequently it was an instigating and encouraging saying towards the crowd and not contemptuous towards His Mother. Our Saviour Jesus Christ as long as He was with His Mother on earth, He always listened to her, loved her and submitted to her (Luke 2:51) and when she would ask for something He never disobeyed her. Thus at the wedding in Cana of Galilee, on the request of His Mother, He did the first miracle, turning the water into wine (John 2:3-10). Then He cared greatly for His Mother and even while He hang upon the Cross, he acted with care and gave her to His most beloved among His disciples - Saint John the Evangelist- to be taken care of, according to the scriptures: "When Jesus therefore saw His Mother and the disciple standing by, whom He loved, he saith unto His Mother, Woman behold thy son! Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home" (John 19:26-27). Do you see here how the Saviour even during the time of His great ordeal on the Cross, He did not neglect to show care towards the person of His Mother, who gave birth to Him and brought Him up. And how could it be possible to neglect His Mother, when God Himself commanded us to honour our parents as it is written: "Honour your father and your mother.... (Deut 5:16)
Secondly there is no cause for scorn but instead, it appears that He looked after her by trusting her in the care of the Apostle John- knowing that He would no longer be on earth to care for her to the end of her life, as we showed above. This fact is not dishonesty but truly, a great honour and respect towards the person of His Mother, whom even during His torments upon the Cross, He did not forget to care for her, showing the great love He had on the person of His Mother. If He however calls her "woman", under no circumstance does it have the meaning of a married woman or for the purpose of scorning her, but only with the meaning of her sex. For in the same way the two angels at the tomb also addressed Mary Magdalene, "Woman, why do you weep?" (John 20: 12-13). While the two men who were present during the Ascension of the Lord to Heaven, said to the Apostles: "Men of Galilee why do you stand looking at the heavens?" (Acts 1:11). Neither the angels nor the two men used the words "woman" or "men" contemptuously but in the contrary in a flattering manner.
They even ask us, where in the Holy Bible it says that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was Virgin and Ever Virgin, as we call her. That she gave birth being virgin, our Holy Bible shows it this way: When the Archangel Gabriel was sent to Nazareth and announced to her that she will bear the Son of God (Luke 1:35) coming to her he called her "full of grace" and "blessed are you among women" (Luke 1:28). It appears that the Archangel venerated (honoured) the Virgin Mary, calling her "full of grace" and "blessed are you among women" and that she received great grace from God, that the power of the Almighty had overshadowed her, and that she conceived through the Holy Spirit and gave birth to the Son of God. Even though she was a Virgin, not having known a man, the angel of the Lord did not tell her "blessed are you among the virgins" but blessed are you among "women" and through this he does not show contempt towards the Most Holy Theotokos who is "full of grace" but reveals an old mystery: "the crashing of the head of the snake by the woman" (Gen 3:15) and that she will be the mystical and spiritual Eve who will bear the new Adam, Christ, who will bring life to the world.
The Godbearing Fathers of the church tell us that Christ was called the seed of a woman (Gen 3:15) as he was not born of the seed of a man but of the Holy Spirit and the undefiled blood of the Most Holy Virgin and received Body.
On the day of the great judgment (2nd coming) this Queen and Virgin Mary, will be sitting to the right of the throne of her Son, in great and indescribable glory, as the psalm indicates by saying: ".......Upon Thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir" (Ps 45:9). Because the Archangel Gabriel also called her woman, when he said: "blessed are you among women" does it mean that the Virgin Mary was a married woman?
Why then did she respond to the greeting of the angel "I know not a man" (namely I am a Virgin)?
Or when God created Eve from the side of Adam (Gen 2:21-22) and he brought her toward him and he called he called her "woman" was it perhaps that Eve was a married woman, since Adam called her woman? Is it possible that Eve was not created virgin from the side of the pure Adam who had not known a woman?
Consequently if Eve was created by God and while God Himself with Adam, called this virgin "woman" and would they later call her woman with the meaning of a married woman? - How falsely do all these neoprotestants and heretics understand? For as Eve was a virgin, then when he called her woman, likewise, the mystical and spiritual Eve, the immaculate Virgin Mary who gave birth to the New Adam, Christ , is Virgin for ever and ever, even though the Holy Bible calls her woman, while referring only to her sex, the feminine sex.
Then Adam through the energy of God bore from his virgin body, without a woman (namely, without having knowledge of a woman), while during the fulfillment of time, the feminine nature by the energies of the Holy Spirit, gave birth to a man without a man, in virginity she gave birth and remained virgin as in the beginning Adam gave birth while a virgin. So God was pleased, as through the Virgin Mary to lend the nature of the Old Adam through the New Adam who was born of the Virgin and who came to the world and wore our nature through His infinite mercy and kindness, to save the Old Adam with all his descendents from the sentence of death. For as through Adam we all died, through Christ all are resurrected (Rom 6:5; John 3:16; 5:24 etc)
Therefore consider, deceived man -you and your likes- that the Holy Bible does not call the Mother of God "woman" meaning married as you understand but through the word "woman" the Holy Bible refers only to the feminine sex of the Holy Virgin Mary and at the same time it shows in a shadowy and mystical way that it is the woman whose descendent (Christ) will crash the head of the snake and through Him will come salvation to the people.
To the above we should add:
- Being the Mother of the Saviour, the Virgin Mary was accorded the highest honour that any creature can have.
- By Conceiving the Saviour through the Holy Spirit, she was cleansed completely from sin more than any other human, no matter how holy he/she may have been.
- Because her exceptional honour was pre-accorded - like no other honour on a person- the Most Holy Virgin Mary must be considered the first among the saints, just like Saint John the Baptist is considered the greatest among the prophets (Malachi 3, Isaiah 40:3).
For all these the Most Holy Virgin Mary
is worthy of an honour greater than the other Saints (exceptional honour)
because she is the queen and the crown of all the Saints. For how after the
birth she remained virgin, read and observe the prophesied sayings of the
prophet Ezekiel (44:1-3).
The deceived ones moreover add that we should not give too much honour to the Virgin Mary and not even call her "Ever Virgin", for she had more children, which were named in the Holy Bible "brothers and sisters" of Jesus while Jesus is called "first born" (Matt 1:35) which then follows that she later had other children.
It is true that the Holy Bible talks about some brothers of the Lord as well as sisters of His, and from the words of the Jews, who amazed by the miraculous person of the Lord said: "Is He not the son of the carpenter? Is His mother not called Mariam and His brothers James and Joses and Simon and Judas? And His sisters...." (Matt 13:55-56; Mark 6:3). However in this instance by the phrase "first born" does not mean that we have to presume the existence of other born later (second, third....etc). This was a way of speech in the Old Testament "first born" is called the one who opens the womb first, independent if he has other brothers or not (Exodus13:2) and where many times the absolute numbering (1,2,3,....) is substituted or used mixed together with the tactical way (first, second ..etc).
This Judaism entered use in the language of the New Testament. At present "first born" means "single born" with the meaning the "only one born". Any other meaning is declined because if it were true that Jesus had other blood brothers (children of Mary) he would not have left His Mother in the care of some Apostle but in the care of one of her sons.
To the second point an argument is made about the "brothers" of the Lord. The brothers are mentioned even by name and are four, while the sisters must have been at least two. They however under no circumstances could be natural brothers/sisters of Jesus Christ and children of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, because:
-According to an old and accepted tradition, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, remained virgin after the birth according the way she appeared in the vision of Prophet Ezekiel (44:1-3).
-The mother of those so called brothers/sisters of the Lord is another person from that of the Virgin Mary, because in the Holy Bible she is called "Mary" or "the other Mary" or "the sister of His mother, Mary of Klopa" being mentioned even at the side of the Mother of the Lord and near her (Matt27:55-56; 28:1; Mark 15:40-47; John 19:25).
- The "brothers of the Lord not even they are called brothers but "slaves" (James 1:1) and "slaves-servants" (Jud 1:1) of the Lord, the authors of the two universal epistles or there they are called "slaves" (James 1:1; Jude1:1) of the Lord and not brothers.
-If they were His brothers, Christ would have made them apostles. Even though some suggest that these two of the "brothers of the Lord", called James and Judas, are the same to the apostles who bear the name (James indeed is the same with the younger "brother of the Lord"
- in all the listings of the Apostles - while Judas "the brother of the Lord" is perhaps Judas Taddeus). All the same, this is a simple case, an adequately founded one, especially that they do not call themselves apostles as they also do not call themselves "brothers of the Lord". About James
- "the brother of God" we know only that he was the first bishop of Jerusalem and enjoyed the greatest honour of the faithful as well as the apostles (Acts 12:17; 15:13) since James Zebedeous was murdered (Acts 12:2).
- Christ would have trusted the Virgin Mary in his care, and not of the apostle John, who would certainly have been more distant than a son or a daughter of hers.
- Taking into consideration the
fact that in all the East, and especially in Judea the meaning "brother" is
used in a broader sense, for a cousin or other relatives both close and distant
ones as for example in Genesis (13:8) where Abraham calls Lot brother even
though he was his nephew, son of his brother (Gen 11:27) we must accept that
"brothers of the Lord" were cousins of Jesus. But not first cousins, for even
if their mother is called sister of the Mother of the Lord (John 19:25) she
could not have been sister from the same father because she had the same name
Mary but the word sister, here must have the meaning of sister-in-law for the
Virgin Mary was a single child. It could have meant sister-in-law by Joseph,
who is not excluded from having some sister who was married. In this case her
boys, called the brothers of the Lord, could have been at most second cousins
of Jesus Christ.
As if they had nothing to add (to say) on the virginity of the Mother of God and after the birth, they add even this passage of the Holy Bible: "And knew her not until she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus" (Matt 1:25) explaining it that after the birth Virgin Mary could have other children.
Let us take into consideration and understand that in the Holy Bible the phrase "until then" means eternity. Because the Lord said "......And lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the century" (Matt 28:20). Is it possible this means that He will depart from us after the end of that century?" Doesn't the divine Apostle Paul say ".... And so (after the common resurrection) shall we ever be with the Lord" (1Thess 4:17). At another passage of the Holy Bible it is written "The Lord said to my Lord sit thou on my right hand till I make thine enemies thy footstool (Ps 110:1). Does this perhaps mean that after this our Saviour Jesus Christ will not sit at the right of His Father to govern with Him through the ages, even though we know very well that "...... and of His kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:33).
Again in another passage of the Holy Bible it is said that Noah sent the crow and the crow did not return until the earth dried from the water (Gen 8:7), does this mean that it returned to the ship sometime later?
Again it is written in the Holy Bible that Melhol, the daughter of Saul, the wife of David did not bear a child "until the day she die" (2Sam: 6:23). Does this perhaps mean that she bore children after she died, since it says "until the..."?
Therefore, let them open the eyes of their souls all these blasphemers of truth, against these testimonies that most were taken from the Holy Bible and understand the phrase "until the" in the Holy Bible means eternity as the Saviour will exist eternally with the apostles and with all these that fulfill His commandments, as He will also eternally be seated at the right of the Father reigning in His Kingdom which has no end, like the crow never returned to Noah's ark, and as Melhol, the daughter of Saul eternally never bore children after the day of her death and in the same way the righteous and God- fearing Joseph, eternally did not come to know her, who was virgin before the birth, the Most Holy and Immaculate Virgin Mary, Theotokos and Mother of Light, the queen of the angels and of the people remained virgin during birth and for ever after birth.
After all this the hostile leaning persons against the Mother of God say that we should not direct our prayers to her with the supplications: "not having other protection- we have no other helper but you" and "Most holy Theotokos save us", being a great mistake because we place the Mother of God at par with the Saviour, as mediatrix to our salvation, since one is our mediator, Jesus Christ.
Regarding our supplication to the Mother of God in the following way: "not having other protection" through this we do not deny the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the mediator of our objective salvation, but neither do we neglect the benefit of every help for our subjective salvation. The significance of this supplication is the following: "You can give us the greatest help to our subjective salvation, for any other greater help we cannot find in any saint or we do not have anyone else who can help us as much as you can help us, being the Mother of our Saviour". While the words of our supplication that we direct at her, "Most Holy Theotokos, save us" mean "Intercede to your Son to save us" or "redeem us". In the Greek language in which almost all the books of the New Testament were written, such as the books of the Orthodox worship, the verb "to save" also means "to redeem" (deliver, absolve etc) from the evil, from temptation, from sins, from worry, from financial difficulties. So: "Most Holy Theotokos save us" means "help us with your supplications to be redeemed from evil, upset, from the activities of the devil, from our passions".
At the same time through the "save us" we do not mean "forgive our sins" but "intercede to your Son for our salvation". It is impossible to sadden her Son because through the devotion (meaning rendering honour) of the Mother of God, for in this way the worship owing to Him is not diminished in any way but to the contrary, all the great devotion "particularly" to the Mother of God passes over to her Son, who chose her and sanctified her to become His Mother.
Concerning what was said, we showed through testimonies from the Holy Bible, the honour, the glory and the gifts that God gave to His Most Holy Mother, because:
God, one more time since the fall of Adam and Eve, foretold about the Mother of God that she will be that woman - virgin who shall through her Son crash the head of the snake (Gen 3:15). Later, it was prophesied about her that will be the Virgin who will be the intercessor for the entry to the world of the Saviour Jesus Christ (Jeremiah 31:2-23), to her the Archangel Gabriel came to honour and called her "full of grace" and "blessed among women" and "Mother of my Lord" (Luke 1:40-45), blessed her womb and breasts for they held and fed the Saviour of the world, Christ (Luke 11:27-28). The Saviour as her Son, obeyed her and submitted to her (Luke 2:51), the first miracle the Saviour made was at the wedding at Cana of Galilee through her supplication (John 2:3-10), the Saviour took care of her even then when He suffered excruciating pains on the Cross, trusting to His most beloved of all His Apostles the care of His Mother, and herself through the Holy Spirit prophesied that all the generations will call her blessed and will sing in glory that God made her worthy due to her humility (Luke 1:48-49), while the same name of the Mother of God in the Hebrew language is translated as "Lady Virgin".
This Lady and Virgin Queen will sit to the right of the throne of her Son on the day of the Second Appearance (Ps 45:9). She conceived and gave birth by the Holy Spirit to the Son of God (Luke 1:35) having been overshadowed by the power of the Almighty and remained virgin even after the birth (Ezekiel 44:13) she is most honourable than the Cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, having no other children but only Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. The mother of the so called "brothers" of the Lord is not the Theotokos but Mary Klopa (Matt 27:55-56; Mark 15:40-47; John 19:25) while the "brothers" of the Lord are just relatives of Him and not His natural brothers, for in the early years to the Hebrews, the close relatives were called "brothers" (Gen 13:8). The mother of the brothers of the Lord, Mary Klopa, is called sister of the Mother of the Lord, according to the meaning of being close relatives (John 19:25 etc).
Having seen testimonies of the Holy Bible for these truths that refer to the mother of the Lord, if you had a clear mind from the darkness of heresies and sins, you would have been able to understand very clearly (enlightened) why we Orthodox Christians of the Church of Christ accord the Super-devotion (exceptional honour) to the Most Holy Theotokos Mary. By asking her, we set her as intercessor to her Son and our God, to help us through her intercessory mediations which she always presents to God for the whole human race and especially for the devout Christians.
Why don't you honour the Mother of the Lord when the Holy Bible itself reveals to you that the Archangel Gabriel honoured her with the greeting (Luke 1:29).
What is the reason you do not honour the Mother of the Lord, who according to the testimony of the Holy Bible and of the evangelist Archangel Gabriel, she is "full of grace"? (Luke 1:28-30). Why are you so hard hearted and blind that you do not comprehend you do not honour the Mother of the Lord even though by the grace of the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth confessed that she was the Mother of the Lord and blessed among women? (Luke 1:40-43).
If you say that you believe in the writing of the Holy Bible, why then don't you honour and respect the Mother of the Lord, when the Bible reveals to you she will be blessed by all generations, for the honour that God granted her?
What is the reason you reached such great ignorance, where instead of you honouring and respecting the Mother of the Lord, you blaspheme her and in your disorder (foolishness) you consider her as a common woman? The Holy Spirit has presented her in the psalms as queen of the angels and of all creation, sitting to the right of her Son, clothed in gold and adorned (Ps 45:13) and you name her as a common woman like all the rest?
The Holy Spirit reveals in the Holy Bible that she will be commemorated from generation to generation and all the nations will hymn her incessantly through the ages (Ps 45:17) while you do not want to glorify and honour the Mother of the Lord. The Holy Spirit reveals the "King's daughter is all glorious within, her clothing is of wrought gold (Ps 45:13). By the inner glory it shows that it is a temple of the Holy Spirit, immaculate, while you blaspheme the Mother of the Lord and do not honour her.
The Mother of the Lord is that Virgin who gave birth to Emmanuel God (Isaiah 7:14) and you say she is any woman as all the other women. The Holy Spirit through the mouth of the Prophet Ezekiel depicts the Mother of the Lord as "a closed gate" through which no one will enter but only the God of Israel and after the passage, she will remain closed (Ezekiel 44:13), namely she will be virgin before the birth, during the birth and ever virgin she will remain after the birth, and you say that the Mother of the Lord had other children apart from the Son of God, whom she bore.
It would be better to hang a rock round your neck and jump in the sea (Matt 18:6-7; Mark 9:42; Luke 17:1-2) than scandalize the souls of innocent Christians with your lies and your satanic and cursed blasphemies. How could the just and God fearing Joseph (Matt 1:19) dare to touch the Most Holy Virgin after the birth, especially after he received the revelation - by the angel "for in her will be born by the Holy Spirit, is Holy (Matt 1:20) and the conceived by the grace of the Holy Spirit will be the Saviour of the world, Christ (Matt 1:21).
Would perhaps the righteous and God fearing Joseph -to whom God revealed that the Virgin Mary, his betrothed, conceived by the Holy Spirit and understood that through her God would work the salvation of the human race, by crashing the head of the snake (Gen 3:15) and that she is the Virgin, prophesied by the Holy Spirit through the Prophet Isaiah, who will give birth to Emmanuel, God and Saviour of the world (Isaiah 7:14)- be capable of entertaining human thoughts on her? Exactly because of this the righteous and God fearing Joseph proved to be such a zealot and obedient and served with such toil the divine Child, from birth to escape to Egypt and then return (Luke 2:4-5; Matt 2:13; 20:21-23) as well as the rest of the time of his life, until the age of the Saviour of 30 years, for he could understand completely the calling to serve the Most Holy Virgin through whom God came to the world, to redeem the human race.
Therefore, let the mouths of all the heretics and neoprotestants remain silent, from blaspheming against the Queen of the angels and Mother of God and of the righteous and God fearing Joseph concerning the evil and foolish thoughts that the Most Holy and Immaculate Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, the "full of grace" could have other children.
Denying all the dumb blasphemies of the heretics, we, the children of the Church of Christ, let us always have the Mother of God our continuous supplicator and intercessor for our salvation in front of God. Let us incessantly honour her name as Mother of the Son of God. Let the virgins glorify her as an Ever Virgin mother. The priest and the monastics as the mother of the Great Arch-Priest Jesus Christ, while we, the pious Christians, together with the angels and the saints let us sing daily the Akathist and the canon of the Paraclete to the Mother of God, repeating all together the holy hymn (obedience): "Rejoice, Bride, Unwedded".
George Dem. Apostolou
From the Journal: "Orthodox Filotheos Martyria"
Publication: "Orthodox Kypseli" Thessaloniki.