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InternationalMother of God 

Mother of God 

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There is preserved information about the Mother of God in the Holy Scriptures insofar as her person is in connection with the historical person of the incarnate Word – of our Lord Jesus Christ. But we see that with the historical development of the Church, new information about her begins to appear, which is outside the Holy Scriptures. This is related to the liturgical veneration that develops over time to the Mother of God. This liturgical veneration is observed in the early centuries – in the first, second, third century, we see how the people of God began to show an exceptional veneration of the Mother of God, to reach the fourth century, when there was even a current in the Church. such a degree glorifies the Mother of God that she elevates her to the rank of goddess. The church differs from this heresy; St. Epiphanius of Cyprus strongly spoke out against the abuse of the cult of the Virgin. This is a danger that the Church faces.

On the other hand, there is the danger of denying the Mother of God. That is why the Third Ecumenical Council in Ephesus (431) declared the dogmatic reverence for the Mother of God. Of course, the meaning of the Third Ecumenical Council is rather Christological – it states that Christ is the God-Man; the heresy of Nestorius is denied. But in essence, Nestorianism is a Christological heresy. And we see how at the Third Ecumenical Council the doctrinal significance of the Mother of God is determined in the fact that she is the Mother of God; and in the second dogma at a later stage, in that she is essentially a virgin.

Over the years, honoring the Mother of God requires knowing more about the one who gave birth to God. Because we, the Christians, stand up in prayer and in it we call on the Mother of God – both in the personal prayer and in the liturgy. In the 4th century, St. Gregory the Theologian mentioned in one of his words that Christians have been calling on the Mother of God in their personal prayer since the early tradition. And this is something natural. Even more: in the liturgies, which are the most important liturgical testimony in the Church, we see the doctrinal significance of the Mother of God – we honor her because she is the Mother of God. In essence, the ancient liturgies are important to us because they preserve the reverence for the Mother of God as the mother of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ. And the believing servant of God prays to God’s mother, because he honors her.

In the following centuries, liturgical veneration is associated with the personal veneration that every Christian heart asks of the Mother of God. In the Church, this veneration increases and the situation with heresy in the fourth century is repeated – attempts to deify the Mother of God, which become a problem in the Roman Catholic Church, which introduces new dogmas. This is not the case in the Orthodox Church. Yes, there is – in the fourteenth century, some of the Fathers of the Church in their words, which are part of the tradition, express very strong praise for the Mother of God, but the difference is clear – she is the Mother of God, not a goddess. While, unfortunately, in Roman Catholicism this difference is blurring. And it is quite understandable that the people of God are looking for information outside the sacred Scripture of the Church. Thus we come to the apocrypha, which supplement the Scriptures in a sense.

Above all, what the Scriptures say about the Mother of God is important to us, because it is on the basis of it that the Fathers of the Church speak. They use the apocrypha, that’s true; but use them wisely. According to a Russian theologian and researcher of the Assumption, they managed to find the grain of truth contained in the apocryphal texts. But in essence, the Fathers of the Church and the Hymnographic Fathers, when writing hymnographic texts later, rely on the apocryphal texts very carefully, basically what the Scriptures say about the Mother of God.

We come to what Scripture says because it is the most important source for us. Perhaps we should start with the first book of scripture, the book of Genesis. It describes how, after the fall, the Lord Jesus Christ spoke of the serpent and the woman at the same time. He says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it will strike you in the head, and you will sting it in the heel. ”(Gen. 3:15) The Church Fathers are adamant in their interpretations that it is the Mother of God, the incarnation, the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. . This is the woman’s seed. And it is about the mother of God like the new Eve. We will see that later the Fathers made similar parallels and interpretations of this paragraph, and not only of it, of all the messianic prophecies contained in the Old Testament.

The role of the Mother of God is extremely important because she gave birth to the God-man Christ. And we see that even in the first chapters of the Bible it is a question of the Incarnation of God, which is of crucial importance for all mankind, for the whole world.

The next paragraph of scripture I will mention is again from Genesis, the twenty-eighth chapter, which describes Jacob’s dream. “And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and the angels of God ascended and descended upon it. And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of thy father Abraham, and the God of Isaac; (Do not be afraid). The land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your seed; and thy seed shall be as the sand of the earth. And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and said, Surely the LORD is in this place, and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! This is nothing but the house of God, this is the gate of heaven. ” (Gen. 28: 12-17)

This heavenly ladder, on which the angels descend in Jacob’s dream, is in fact the Mother of God. It is no coincidence that St. Patriarch James says that this is the house of God. Later, the hymnographic fathers on the feasts of the Church emphasized this. Very often we will meet how the Mother of God is called “the gate of heaven”, “house of God”, “heaven”, “paradise”… We will meet the analogy of crossing the sea as on dry land, we will meet the blackberry that burns and does not burn… These are all biblical images, which refer precisely to the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in connection with this – to the image of the Virgin.

One of the important texts of Scripture in this regard is found in the book of Psalms. There are many messianic prophecies there, but since Psalm 44 is usually sung on the feast of the Virgin Mary, I want to explain why this text is used. There is a messianic prophecy in it; specifically the verses used are for the Mother of God. “King’s daughters are among Your honorable; the queen stood at your right hand in gold of Ophir. Hear, O daughter, and see; incline thine ear, and forget thy people, and thy father’s house. And the King will greatly desire your beauty, because He is your Lord, and you bowed down to Him. And the daughter of Tire with gifts and the richest of the people will beg Your face. All the glory of the king’s daughter is within: her garment is embroidered with gold; she is brought to the King in a variegated robe; after her, virgins, her companions, are brought to you, they are brought with joy and rejoicing, they enter the king’s palace. ”(Ps. 44: 10-16)

In a sense, it is precisely this messianic prophecy that we have of the Mother of God that is used here – as Christ is the King of heaven, so we call the Mother of God the “Queen of Heaven.” This is an epithet used in church hymnography to show great glory – not so much doctrinal as praiseworthy. We praise the Mother of God as the queen of heaven because she gave birth to the Lord Jesus Christ; at the same time the King is one. This is very common in church hymnography and the believer’s heart understands it.

I will also mention the text from Isaiah, on which the holy evangelist Matthew also refers: “The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call his name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14). The text of the holy prophet Ezekiel also speaks of The Mother of God as for doors through which no one will pass (cf. Ezek. 44: 1-2). The meaning of this is that the Mother of God remains a virgin forever – a virgin.

Later, it was with the virginity of the Mother of God that the cult of the Mother of God developed even more. St. Athanasius of Alexandria called the Mother of God “a role model” in the early Christian era. Then the Fathers of the Church, when writing their treatises on virginity, look for analogies with the Mother of God, and this is observed even in the modern Christian world. The Mother of God is a prototype of virginity – she gave birth to the Godman, she remained a virgin at birth, and after birth she is always a virgin.

When the holy evangelist Matthew speaks of the birth of Christ, he mentions the prophecy of the holy prophet Isaiah. But in the first chapter of the Gospel he tells how an angel appeared to Mary’s husband, St. Joseph the Righteous. In connection with this, the Holy Scriptures refer precisely to the Mother of God. And when Joseph was about to leave the Mother of God, the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid to accept Mary, your wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; and she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS; for he will save his people from their sins. And all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, the virgin shall conceive in her womb, and bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which shall say, God is with us. (Matt. 1: 20-23) Behold, we see the scripture of the Old Testament being fulfilled in the New Testament; how these messianic prophecies are fulfilled. Here again it is witnessed how in her essence the Mother of God has her place insofar as she is the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. Based on this is the subsequent veneration and the development of the feasts of the Virgin Mary over the centuries.

The other evangelists, with the exception of the evangelist Luke, do not talk so much about the Mother of God. Although the holy apostle and evangelist John the Theologian accepts the Mother of God in his words, according to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, “Woman, behold your son” (cf. John 19:26), he speaks very little of her. The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke is the one who speaks more about the Mother of God. He describes the Annunciation – how the gospel itself happens:

“The angel came to her and said: Rejoice, gracious one! The Lord is with you; blessed art thou among women. […] And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. and, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom shall have no end. And Miriam said unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore the Holy One, who will be born of you, will be called the Son of God ”(Luke 1: 28-35).

(to be continued)

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