the Mother of God

Today the Church celebrates her through whom the Word became flesh- the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos. She was chosen for a reason. God providentially, by grace in the time of the Law, raised up a remnant, a line of faithful, blameless ones. It is to be noted that her cousin Elizabeth was counted blameless before God. (Luke 1) The Virgin Mary was the cream of the crop, as it were.

Many former Protestants who become Orthodox struggle with the Church’s supreme veneration  of the Theotokos. While it isn’t the worship that belongs to God alone, it can “feel” that way.

This is how I have come to terms with this in my morning prayers:

“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, O Virgin Theotokos; blessed art thou, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls.  . . . Holy, Holy, Holy, art Thou O God; through the Theotokos save us.  . . . Most Holy Theotokos, save us.”

In this way the final petition to the Theotokos is contextualized, and is offered in peace, with veneration and affection. The pure one “saves” us by her birthgiving and prayers. And for this, as the Church says, we cannot honor her enough.

This is how one former Protestant deals with his “attitude disability” to the Theotokos. Those of us who grow up outside the fullness of the Faith acquire habits of mind, heart, and action foreign to Orthodox Christianity, and even if we become convinced, we must expect our healing, our “abling,” to take time.

And those of us who have experienced, for extended periods of time, extremely dysfunctional forms of Christianity, will require more time. These experiences, while making for dramatic conversion stories, are in actuality very disabling spiritually. I myself spent 4 years with a group called “The Church of Bible Understanding” from 1974 to 1978. Its leader was “gifted” (from the infernal regions) at verbal abuse; it was a zealous but mean-spirited bunch- a most terrible combination. I have inner struggles today, I believe, because of those days. But in Christ there is a sure source of healing, which proceeds at the pace the Master, in His infinite love and wisdom, sets.

And the Body of Christ, both the members who share our present pilgrimage and those who are in His Presence, especially His Mother, the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos (God-bearer) are there for us, to aid us in the many ways in which they have been “abled” to do so. And so let us honor Her (the Mother of us all!) and all of them fittingly.

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