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Veneration of the Mother of God


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#1 Michael Du.

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 02:27 AM

Hi,

I was at a couple of Orthodox services recently, as I am in the process of exploring Eastern Orthodoxy (not just for curiosity sake, but because I am considering becoming Orthodox). I noticed throughout the service that some of the hymns mention Mary as being holy. Is it okay to understand this as a relative holiness? That is, a holiness that comes from God, derives from God's grace, and the incredible work that God did in Mary (along with her own free will and choice to respond to God), as opposed to some intrinsic holiness that Mary had or achieved on her own? The reason I ask is because when I understand it as a relative holiness, I am not worried as much about idolatry. However, if this holiness is something intrinsic to Mary, then it seems worrisome to me, as that would make her equal to Christ. Any thoughts?

#2 Ben Johnson

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 03:54 AM

I don't have the links right now, but there have been some intense discussions on this.

#3 Paul Cowan

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 04:12 AM

I agree, please do seek out the search feature on this topic, we have had some rather heated discussions I hope we don't relive.

#4 Kosta

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 06:03 AM

Not sure if im understanding you correctly. The word holy and saint tend to be synonyms in greek (hagios). The word is interchangeable, so in the NT even they laity are holy (saints). The word is also a common title for a heirarch, a patriarch is called 'His Holiness', i believe even other religions apply this to their top cleric. So its not because she is a higher distinct being, she assumed the same post-fall human nature as us .

#5 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 09:56 AM

Nobody "achieves" anything on their own. This is a very basic Orthodox understanding. "Apart from Me, you can do nothing" (John 15:5). To be "holy" simply designates that which is set apart for God. And the God-bearer, the Theotokos, was certainly set apart for God, yes?

#6 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 12:13 PM

I am being helped in my understanding through recent reading of the works of St Athanasius.

I think that we are making a basic mistake when we try to begin with ideas such as relative or intrinsic holiness. This simply is not an Orthodox concept.

This is because for us holiness is holiness. It is the fulfillment of man's basic and created image through his life in Christ. Such a life does not make us literally God. But it certainly does make us like God and partakers of Himself.

Seen in this way then the denial of holiness is a denial of man's most basic aspiration but also ultimately a belief that God does not really and literally give of Himself to us. It is a denial of Orthodox belief's basis.

In Christ-
Fr Raphael

#7 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 12:44 PM

According to St Paul (Ephesians 1:4), we are all chosen to be holy (and blameless). To be holy means to be different and in a sense set apart from the world so that its cares do not choke our faith (cf Matthew 13:7, and 22). This does not necessarily mean to be out of the world but to be different within the world so as to be a light in the world (cf Matthew 5:14). The Mother of God is called 'All-Holy'.

#8 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 01:35 PM

There has indeed been intense discussion on whether the Virgin was ever not holy (in other words, whether she ever sinned), but I don't recall any of us doubting that she is all holy now. Whereas we still aspire to perfection, she has already been perfected.

Edited by Brian Patrick Mitchell, 28 March 2016 - 02:23 PM.


#9 Anna Stickles

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 03:03 PM

Michael,

One of the much used analogies to describe theosis is the image of metal being put in the fire. As long as the metal is in the fire it is hot and partakes of the nature of the fire. Remove it and it cools and loses the properties that the fire was transmitting to it.

Likewise only God is holy, only God is immortal and incorruptible, only God is good.... and we are those things only so long as we are united with Him, partaking of His energies. No human being is ever anything in and of themselves. Separated from God who is Light and Life, we become darkened and cold. Separated from God who is holy, we become corrupt - the soul and the body suffer weakness, illness and decay.

#10 Nina

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 01:12 AM

"The Theotokos and the Saints are the smile of God and the consolation of people." ~ An Orthodox Elder

#11 Nina

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 02:28 AM

"The candles lit before the icons of the Theotokos are a symbol of the fact that She is the Mother of the Unapproachable Light, and also of Her most pure and burning love for God and Her love for mankind." ~ St. John of Kronstadt

#12 Lakis Papas

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 01:59 PM

What difference is there between Theotokos and all other humans?

Gabriel said to Theotokos: Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women.

Why was Virgin addressed in this manner? At this time the Holy Spirit was not upon her.

#13 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 04:10 PM

The difference between the Theotokos and all others is that she is all-holy and our supreme model for the attainment of theosis.

 

Divine grace was always with her: she was highly favoured because God chose her from all the women who will ever have lived to bear God the Son. The Holy Spirit 'overshadowed' her at the Annunciation.

 

It is unlikely that anyone from now until the end of the age will be worthy to be called, 'more honourable than the Cherubim and past compare more glorious than the Seraphim'.



#14 Ben Johnson

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 07:05 PM

The Lord favored Mary with the task of carrying the Son of God.  When the angel Gabriel announced this, she said "Yes," and completely submitted to that task; therefore, she is a role model for all Christians.



#15 Lakis Papas

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 10:27 PM

My question is why angel Gabriel said those words to Theotokos before her acceptance. What if she had reply "no"?

Edited by Lakis Papas, 25 March 2016 - 10:28 PM.


#16 Olga

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 11:07 PM

My question is why angel Gabriel said those words to Theotokos before her acceptance. What if she had reply "no"?

 

The Incarnation is the greatest of mysteries. We should be content that it happened, not speculate on what might have happened.



#17 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 11:37 PM

The Holy Fathers are clear that the Mother of God had free will, and so could have said, 'No'. But she said, 'yes' - ' be it unto me according to thy word'. God foreknew that she would say 'yes' which is why He chose her.



#18 Loucas

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Posted 26 March 2016 - 12:52 AM

Yes, Kosta, Agios ( holy or saint ) not really sure of the conflict at question though. All the Saints or Holy ones are Holy because of God. Of course that is dependent on one's own Spiritual life, acesis if you will. Idolatry?? Sorry that is very much incorrect. Veneration of the Mother of God and/or the Saints has nothing at all to do with idolatry. Read today's Gospel, today being the feast of the annunciation. And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name." So we can clearly see the source of the Holiness, but read the annunciation and we learn about our own life leading to Theosis when, And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. The Saints live every hour every day to be close to God, as did Mary, and find favor from God, who in turn fills them with Grace which of course is AGIOS. We venerate their Holiness and hope to be even a fraction of what they have achieved. The Mother of God ( Theotokis ) is Holy today, yesterday, tomorrow, always and everywhere and thus is called All Holy ( Panagia ).



#19 Kosta

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Posted 26 March 2016 - 03:29 AM

The term panagia for Mary was first coined by Origen, to describe the heights of her deification.
She was holy before the Anunciation as the seed of her lineage was of the holy root of Jesse, she was preserved in the temple, purified in the Holy Spirit, healed of the curse of Eve by the hypostatic union within her womb, and received reception of the spiritual gifts of Pentecost.

Edited by Kosta, 26 March 2016 - 03:30 AM.


#20 Father David Moser

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Posted 26 March 2016 - 03:02 PM

Lakis,

 

Even as God exiled our first parents from Eden in order to show them their sin and bring them to repentance, He promised that He would restore them and began preparing that restoration.  Throughout the ensuing centuries, God carefully crafted the vessel of His redemption, preparing the one who would serve as the instrument of His incarnation by which all mankind was to be redeemed and restored to union and communion with God.  The end result of that divine labor and preparation is the Most Holy Virgin Mary.  She was the one chosen by God - but not chosen by chance because she was in the right place at the right time, but chosen by design, going back to the beginning of time.  She was shaped and molded by centuries of biological, cultural and spiritual forces by the hand of God.  She is the pinnacle of humanity - the best, most perfect human being that ever was or will be born (other than our Lord Himself).  She was not chosen by chance, but by design and she was designed throughout the whole history of mankind to be the ladder between earth and heaven, the one who would contain the uncontainable, the one who would give birth to the One begotten before all ages.  Even before the incarnation, she was the "most blessed" and "most perfect" person of all humanity - the one shaped and chosen by God from the very creation of the world.  For this reason the archangel greeted her according to her stature and place among the human race even before she consented to be the vessel of the incarnation.

 

Fr David Moser






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