Mother of God
"Again we commemorate her who is worthy of being called blessed and extolled by all the generations of the earth", we read in the 4th Diptych (Thubden) during our Holy Qurbana about St. Mary, Mother of God.
Our Holy Fathers venerated her as Theotokos (Mother of God). Just as Jesus is the second Adam, she is the second Eve.
- The first Eve gave man the Fruit of Knowledge, the second Eve gave the Fruit of Life.
- The first Eve listened to the words of the Serpent and disobeyed God, the second Eve listened to the words of Archangel Gabriel and submitted herself to the will of God in perfect obedience.
- In the beginning Eve was created out of Adam. The second Adam was born from Eve.
- The first Adam and Eve were created as grown ups without being born as infants, died and returned to the earth through unbelief and disobedience. The second Adam and Eve were born as infants, died and ascended into heaven through faith and obedience.
As we are preparing to celebrate the Festival of Ascension of St. Mary here is a collection of what the Bible, Orthodox tradition and our Holy Fathers say about the "holy, glorious and blessed, ever virgin and blissful, Mary the Mother of God." May her prayers be a stronghold for us.
- The burning bush, the ark of the covenant overlaid with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant all these symbolically represented the Mother of God
- "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" , prophesied Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14)
- "Hail Mary, full of Grace" , Angel Gabriel greeted her
- "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb" , Elizabeth extolled her calling her the "mother of my Lord"
- Her intercession persuaded Jesus to perform his first miracle at Cana of Galilee and paved way for His public ministry
- Her prayers along with the prayers of the Apostles and other disciples invoked Holy Spirit to descend upon all the believers on the day of Pentecost.
- Her tearful intercession strengthened the Martyrs and was instrumental in the growth of the early church. It is said that when St. Stephen, the first Christian Martyr was being stoned to death St. Mary, Mother of God was praying in tears. The spot where she was standing and praying is honored as holy as we read from the "Journey to Jerusalem" travelogue written by Parumala Thirumeni.
- Holy Father St. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria insisted at the third ecumenical council of Ephesus that she should be called 'Theotokos' (Mother of God) and not just 'Christotokos' (Mother of Christ) refuting Nestorianism.
- Holy Father St. Severus, Patriarch of Antioch "preached all the time that Mary was undoubtedly the God-bearer."
- Her prayers healed young deacon Geevarghese from deadly smallpox. Her affectionate advice in a vision persuaded him to forsake worldly life and become a saint - St. Gregorios (Parumala Thirumeni).
St. Dionysius the Areopagite, Bishop of Athens, who was converted to Christ by St. Paul
- "It is impossible for the human mind to grasp what I have seen not only with the eyes of my soul, but with my bodily eyes, too. I have seen with my own eyes the most beautiful and holy Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ .... That time was for me a time of supreme happiness, I thank the most high and most gracious God, and the Divine Virgin, the great Apostle John, and thee (St. Paul), for having mercifully granted me such a great blessing," (letter to St. Paul after visiting the Mother of God in Jerusalem)
- "He became Man by the Virgin so that the course which was taken by disobedience in the beginning through the agency of the serpent, might be also the very course by which it would be put down. For Eve, a virgin and undefiled, conceived the word of the serpent, and bore disobedience and death. But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy when the angel Gabriel announced to her the glad tidings that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her and the power of the Most High would overshadow her, for which reason the Holy One being born of her is the Son of God. And she replied: ‘Be it done unto me according to thy word’." (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 100 [Ca. 155 AD])
St. Ignatius the God bearer
- "If it is made possible, I intend to come to you in order to see the faithful gathered in Jerusalem, and especially the Mother of Jesus: they say of her that she is honorable, affable, and arouses wonder in all, and all wish to see her. But who would not wish to see the Virgin and to converse with her who bore the true God? ...With us she is glorified as the Mother of God and the Virgin full of grace and virtue. They say of her that she is joyful in troubles and persecutions, does not grieve in poverty and want, and not only does not get angry with those who offend her but does good to them still more... All who see her are delighted."
- "The Virgin Mary, being obedient to his word, received from an angel the glad tidings that she would bear God." (Against Heresies [A.D. 189])
- "(Eve) having become disobedient, was made the cause of death for herself and for the whole human race; so also Mary, betrothed to a man but nevertheless still a virgin, being obedient, was made the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race...Thus, the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin Eve had bound in unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed through faith." (Against Heresies [A.D. 189])
- "The Word begotten of the Father from on high, inexpressibly, inexplicably, incomprehensibly, and eternally, is he that is born in time here below of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God." (The Incarnation of the Word of God [A.D. 365])
- "Many, my beloved, are the true testimonies concerning Christ. The Father bears witness from heaven to his Son. The Holy Spirit bears witness, coming down bodily in the form of a dove. The Archangel Gabriel bears witness, bringing the good tidings to Mary. The Virgin Mother of God bears witness." (Catechetical Lectures 10:19 [A.D.350])
- "I have been amazed that some are utterly in doubt as to whether or not the Holy Virgin is able to be called the Mother of God. For if our Lord Jesus Christ is God, how should the Holy Virgin who bore him not be the Mother of God?" (Letter to the Monks of Egypt [A.D. 427])
- "This expression, however, 'the Word was made flesh' [John 1:14], can mean nothing else but that he partook of flesh and blood like to us; he made our body his own, and came forth man from a woman, not casting off his existence as God, or his generation of God the Father, but even in taking to himself flesh remaining what he was. This the declaration of the correct faith proclaims everywhere. This was the sentiment of the holy Fathers; therefore they ventured to call the holy Virgin, the Mother of God, not as if the nature of the Word or his divinity had its beginning from the holy Virgin, but because of her was born that holy body with a rational soul, to which the Word, being personally united, is said to be born according to the flesh." (First Letter to Nestorius [A.D. 430])
- "And since the holy Virgin hath borne after the Flesh God united personally to the Flesh, therefore we do say that she is also Mother of God, not as though the Nature of the Word had the beginning of Its existence from flesh, for It was in the beginning and the Word was God, and the Word was with God [John 1:1], and is Himself the Maker of the ages, Co-eternal with the Father and Creator of all things." (Third Letter to Nestorius [A.D. 430])
- "If anyone will not confess that the Emmanuel is very God, and that therefore the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God, inasmuch as in the flesh she bore the Word of God made flesh [John 1:14]: let him be anathema". (Anathemas against Nestorianism [A.D. 431])
- "We confess, then, our lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God perfect God and perfect man of a rational soul and a body, begotten before all ages from the Father in his godhead, the same in the last days, for us and for our salvation, born of Mary the virgin, according to his humanity, one and the same consubstantial with the Father in godhead and consubstantial with us in humanity, for a union of two natures took place. Therefore we confess one Christ, one Son, one Lord. According to this understanding of the unconfused union, we confess the holy virgin to be the Mother of God because God the Word took flesh and became man and from his very conception united to himself the temple he took from her" (Formula of Union [A.D. 431])
- "If anyone does not agree that Holy Mary is Mother of God, he is at odds with the Godhead" (Letter to Cledonius the Priest 101 [A.D. 382])
St. Ephrem the Syrian, The Harp of the Holy Spirit
- "Come, let us wonder at the virgin most pure, wondrous in herself, unique in creation, she gave birth, yet knew no man; her pure soul with wonder was filled, daily her mind gave praise in joy at the twofold wonder: her virginity preserved, her child most dear. Blessed is He who shone forth from her!" (Songs of Praise [A.D. 351])
- "Though still a virgin she carried a child in her womb, and the handmaid and work of his wisdom became the Mother of God." (Songs of Praise [A.D. 351]).
- "Awake, my harp, your songs in praise of the Virgin Mary! Lift up your voice and sing the wonderful history of the Virgin, the daughter of David, who gave birth to the Life of the World.", (Songs of Praise [A.D. 351]).
St. George the Martyr Saint
- "To whom, O governor, wouldst thou compare Apollo ? Wouldst thou compare him to the great Peter, the Arch-apostle to whom were given the keys of the kingdom of heaven ? Or wouldst thou compare him to the mighty Elijah the Tishbite who was an angel upon earth, and who was taken up to heaven in chariot of fire ? Is he not more excellent than the wicked sorcerer Poseidon ? or Smaraktos the profane who worked enchantment by fire ? and who lived with the defiled one, whom they call Timetia who gave birth to the Saraphin the sea warriors, who on account of their deeds were cast into the abyss of the sea ? In whom wouldst thou believe, O king, in Jezebel who slew the prophets, or in the most exalted Virgin Mary who bore us our Lord Jesus Christ ? Be ashamed then, O foolish one, for thy wicked and impure gods are devils." (discourse to King Dadianus on the futility of worshipping idols)
- "O Thou Who in the last days didst appear to us upon earth and didst take flesh through the God-bearer, Mary the Virgin, by an unfathomable and unknowable mystery; the true offspring [of God]; Who didst walk upon the waves of the sea and Whose feet were not wetted by them; Who with five loaves of bread didst feed five thousand men, and they were satisfied; Who didst rebuke the sea and the waves and they subsided everywhere, and were obedient upon Thee, for all creatiion is Thine; let now Thy mercy come upon us and upon me, Thy servant George, for with Thee there is mercy, and to Thee and to Thy Good Father and to the Holy Spirit belongeth the glory for ever. Amen." (A Prayer)