The Theotokos in the holy of holies?
Posted 16 August 2010 - 06:09 PM
Posted 16 August 2010 - 06:35 PM
INXC, Fr Irenei
Posted 16 August 2010 - 10:06 PM
Ὑπεραγία Θεοτόκε, σῶσον ἡμᾶς.
For all of us on the revised calendar that celebrated the Dormition yesterday, Happy Feastday, Χρόνια Πολλά.
Kontakion. Tone Two.
The Theotokos who is sleepless in intercession
And the immovable hope of protection
Could not be contained by the tomb and death.
For as the Mother of Life,
She was transfered to life by Him
Who dwelt in the ever-virgin womb.
August 15th: The august Translation (Aussumption) of our most glorious Lady Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary.
It is no wonder that she died who saved the world, since even He who made the world once died in the flesh. God's Mother forever lives, even if she died on the fifteenth.
When our Lord Jesus Christ wished to take His Mother to himself, He informed her of her translation to heaven three days in advance through an Angel (who, as they say, was the Archangel Gabriel). This angelic messenger came to her and said, "Thus says your Son: 'The time has come for me to take my Mother to myself. Therefore, do not be disturbed by this, but rather gladly accept the tidings, for you are coming to immortal life'".
Upon learning this, the Theotokos rejoiced with great joy. In fact, moved by her longing to be transported to her Son, she hastened to the Mount of Olives in order to pray (for she was accustomed to ascend this mountain often in order to pray). Then followed an extraordinary wonder. For when the Theotokos went up to the mountain, the trees that were planted there bowed their crowns as if they were animate and rational, and thus worshiped and accorded due reverence and honor to the Lady and Mistress of the world.
After she had prayed for a good while, she returned home, and - strange wonder! - immediately the entire house was shaken. Whereupon she lit many lights and gave thanks to God. She invited her relatives and neighbors, cleaned house, decorated the funeral bier, and prepared everything that was necessary for her burial. Moreover, she revealed to the other women the words the Angel had spoken to her concerning her translation to heaven. To verify what was said, she showed to them the token of joy and victory which the Angel had given her, namely a palm branch. Upon hearing these sad tidings, the women who had been invited lamented and wet their faces with tears, wailing in pitiful voices. When they had ceased their lamentations, they entreated their Lady not to leave them orphaned. The Theotokos, for her part, reassured them that, once translated to heaven, she would preserve not only them, but the whole world as well. So with such words of consolation she assuaged the excessive sorrow of those present. Then the all-pure Virgin dictated concerning her two garmentsL that the two poor widows who were companions and friends of hers, and whom she supported and fed, should each take one of them.
While the all-blameless Lady was arranging these matters - strange wonder! - there was a sudden sound of loud thunder, and there immediately converged a multitude of clouds which had snatched the Apostles from the ends of the earth and had carried them to the Theotokos' house. Together with the Apostles also came Dionysios the Areopagite, St. Hierotheos his teacher, the Apostle Timothy and the other God-bearing hierarchs, likewise carried on the clouds. When they learned the reason for which they had so suddenly and marvelously been assembled, they said to the Theotokos such words: "O Lady, with you still living in the world, it is as if we see your Son and our Master and Teacher, and we are thus comforted. But now, how shall we bear the suffering? At your Son's behest you are to be taken away to supermundane regions, and therefore we lament and weep, as you see, though otherwise we rejoice over the things that have been arranged for you." And as they said these things, they wet their faces with tears.
Then the Theotokos said to them, "O friends and disciples of my Son and God, turn not my joy into grief and sorrow, but bury my body in the position I will lay it in the funeral bier. When she finished these words, behold, the inspired Apostle Paul arrived, the chosen vessel. Falling at the feet of the Mother of God, he extolled her with many encomiums, saying among other things: "Rejoice, O Mother of Life and the subject of my preaching. For, though I did not see your Son bodily on earth, yet beholding you I thought I was actually seeing Him."
After this, the Virgin bade farewell to all. She reclined on the funeral bier and positioned her body as she wished. Then she sent up prayers and supplications to her Son for the sustenance and peace of the whole world. And thus she filled those at hand with her Son's blessing which is given through her. Finally, she surrendered her spirit into the hands of her Song and God.
Afterwards the chief Apostle Peter began to funeral hymns, while the other Apostles carried the bier. Some went ahead with lanterns in hands and chanting hymns, while others followed, escorting to the grave the body that had hosted God, the body of the Mother of God. Then the Angels were actually heard chanting, and the voices of the bodiless Powers filled the air.
The rulers of the Jews, however, unable to endure the sight and sound of such things, instigated certain individuals from the rabble and persuaded them to attempt to upset the bier on which the life-welling body of the Theotokos lay. But, vengeance was quickly wreaked on the insolent who dared such a thing, and they were chastened with blindness. One fellow lost both his hands as well. For, being bolder than the rest, he rushed at that sacred bier and took hold of it. But his impudent hands remained on the bier, for the sword of divine vengeance amputated them. And he was a wretched sight, until he believed wholeheartedly; whereupon he was healed and restored to wholeness as before. Likewise, those who were blinded believed, and a piece of the Theotokos' garment was placed on their eyes, and they were healed.
When they reached the village of Gethsemane, the Apostles buried the life-welling body of the Theotokos and remained there for three days, continually hearing those angelic voices throughout. By divine arrangement, one of the Apostles (namely Thomas, as most assert) was not present for the funeral of the life-welling body of the Mother of God. Arriving three days late, he was distressed and greatly saddened that he had not been granted to witness what all his other fellow Apostles had witnessed. Therefore, by common decision, they opened the grave so that the last remaining Apostle might also venerate that all-blameless body. But they were all amazed. For they found the tomb empty of the holy body and containing only the winding-sheet. which remained as a consolation to the Apostles and all the faithful for their future sorrows, and also as a indubitable witness of the translation of the Theotokos. Thus, empty is her rock-hewn tomb seen and venerated to this day.
This Synaxis and Feast of the Theotokos used to be celebrated in the grand house of Vlachernae in Constantinople. Today it is festively celebrated at the Holy Mountain of Iviron on Mt. Athos, as well as in all the Orthodox Churches and Monasteries throughout the world.
Through her holy intercessions, O Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
Most Holy Theotokos save us from all heresies!
Posted 18 August 2010 - 03:00 PM
My closing comment would be primarily one in the way of an expression of gratitude. This thread, the question behind the question, has been very enlightening to me on different levels and I am grateful for this. And, as well, I'm not sure how to even start a new thread on what I am considering now based on what was learned in this thread, let alone what to give it as title . . . but, I am left at the end of this discussion with a thought about the way of asceticism. Specifically, there is a tape playing in my mind today saying "the one who follows the way of asceticism, the ascetic, is seldom interested in either attacking or defending."
Apologetics, [əˌpäləˈjetiks], plural noun, treated as singular or plural: A field of study concerned with the systematic defence of Christianity. Derived from the Greek word apologia (απολογία), which means in defense of (also means "reply" or "answer").
If I remember correctly, every Ecumenical Council has been convened to defend the faith from heretics and the things that are innately un-Orthodox. A well know story from the First Ecumenical Council details that Saint Nicholas of Myra, became so angry upon hearing the views of Arius that he rushed over to the heretic and gave him a boxing on his ears, sending him to the ground. Not too surprisingly, Saint Nicholas was stripped of his omophorion (his episcopal authority) for this violent act. However, both Saint Nicholas and his fellow bishops later saw dreams and/or visions where Christ and the Mother of God appeared, with the Mother of God holding Saint Nicholas's omophorion in her outstretched hands. This was interpreted as a sign that Saint Nicholas was correct in his anger in defending the true faith of the correct understanding of the Holy Trinity, and he was duly reinstated as bishop.
And just returning for a second to Ruth's comment from quite a while ago:
If one's undergarment becomes enmeshed with the woolly jumper worn over the top, that might indeed happen. If you are afraid in your case that this is so, then, be very careful! But for me, and for some others on this thread, the woolly jumper of devotional fashion can change from century to century and the undergarment of historical, credal, wonderful faith will keep us from nakedness, whatever happens. We can even posit a situation of first and second century saints maybe wearing a woolly jumper of different style and colour to the one you are wearing right now, and not be anxious about it. If thinking about this makes you anxious, then, just don't go there.
To that, I rebut with this:
"Does our Church also have to go down this fashionable path, 'in step with the times,' so as 'not to be left behind'? What kind of 'church' would it be, which would permit itself all this, or at least would look upon this with all-forgiving condescension! …No matter what is done by apostates, fallen from True Orthodoxy, which is the ascetic Faith, the Faith of struggle, we will not permit the modernization of our Church, and we will not go 'in step with the times!'"~Archbishop Averky
This might be worthwhile reading for those who feel that the Orthodox faith is merely a bit of "devotional fashion" that can change: http://www.orthodoxi...m/keepstep.aspx
Posted 21 August 2010 - 05:27 AM
It appears that even today many hold that Mary, after the birth of her Son, was found to be in the state of a woman who has given birth, while in fact she was not so. For some say that, after giving birth, she was examined by a midwife, who found her to be a virgin(1). These things are attested to by the Scriptures of the Lord, which also give birth to the truth and remain virginal, in the hiddenness of the mysteries of truth. "She gave birth and did not give birth", Scripture(2) says, since she conceived by herself, not as a result of union with a man.
(1) reference to the Protoevangelium of James
(2) taken from the apocryphal Pseudo-Ezekiel (which other ancient Christian authors also cite as canonical)
Posted 04 December 2011 - 05:45 PM
Dear Rick - I'm glad you've found something of profit personally in the discussion. I would wonder at your characterisation of the ascetic, however. It is true that the ascetic knows that truth is to be found chiefly by the interior work of obedience and self-sacrifice; but the history of our Church has shown us that when the proclamation 'that has gone out unto all the earth' is challenged, these men and women often rise up quite mightily to its defence, given the true illumination to speak rightly through their endeavours. But that is for another conversation!
INXC, Fr Irenei
Indeed. During the decades of the monothelite heresy, when the west was more Orthodox than the east, there were the efforts, sufferings and martyrdom of Popes Vitalian and St Agatho, of St Maximos the Confessor, and of Pope St Martin respectively.
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