Let us seek the intercession of the Holy Virgin during this pandemic
The Holy Virgin is a stumbling block for many protestants looking into Orthodoxy. The idea that this woman described in the Gospels in such humble terms could be called the Mother of God seems unbiblical to them. She was never called Mother of God in the Bible, they say, so why would she be given such an exalted title? She was, they think, simply the mother of Jesus.
From the earliest of times the Church has seen fit to call her exalted among women, even more exalted then the heavenly hosts. Her role in the history of salvation has been seen as pivotal from the time of the very first century for her humility and obedience before God made her the New Eve. Whereby death entered the world through the disobedience of the first mother, Eve, the Holy Virgin became the New Eve the moment she answered, “be it done according to Thy word”, agreeing to be the Mother of Christ.
The very first icon was painted depicting Mary holding the child Jesus by none other than the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke. The Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God was painted on a board from the table at which the Savior ate together with His All-Pure Mother and Righteous Joseph. The Mother of God, upon seeing this image, exclaimed, “Henceforth, all generations shall call Me blessed. The grace of both My Son and Me shall be with this icon.” She was thus recognized by the Church for her pivotal role with the title Theotokos, which means God-bearer.
The Council of Ephesus decreed in 431 that Mary is Theotokos because her son Jesus is one person who is both God and man, divine and human. To call her the mother of Jesus was seen as heretical because to do so would be to suggest that Jesus was simply a man, apart from being God at the same time. The balance of being both God and Man was thus preserved by the Church from the earliest of times.
The angel Gabriel was sent by God to announce to the Virgin the birth of the Saviour: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.” (Luke 1:28) This angelic salutation forms a part of the hymn of the Church most frequently sung in her honor, in imitation of the words of this angelic messenger of God. Elizabeth, the Virgin’s cousin, considered it an honor for the Mother of her Lord to visit her. “And whence is this to me that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43) There is no difference between saying “Mother of God” and “Mother of the Lord”. Surely, God is the Lord! (Psalm 118:27) During her visit to Elizabeth, the Blessed Virgin spoke the words that form the principal hymn sung in her honor at the Matins service.
My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden, for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” (Luke 1: 47-48)
Elizabeth, having been “filled with the Holy Spirit”, cried out: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” (Luke 1:41, 42) This honor given the Theotokos by her cousin is exactly what all generations of the Church do when they call her blessed. When Jesus beheld His mother and His disciple John standing by the cross, He entrusted him with her care, but He also established a new spiritual relationship between them in saying to the disciple: “Behold thy Mother!” (John 19:27) In making this declaration our Lord made His Mother the Mother of all Christians!
This pandemic is the perfect time to call upon the Mother of God for her intercessory help. As our caring mother, she is quick to hear our collective voices, begging for her intercession before the Throne of God. Just as her son, Jesus Christ, performed His first miracle of turning water into wine at her request, He will hear the voice of his mother as she pleads on our behalf.
With love in Christ,
Monday March 23, 2020 / March 10, 2020
Fourth Week of the Great Lent: Adoration of Cross. Tone seven.
Great Lent. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)
Martyrs Codratus (Quadratus) and with him: Cyprian, Dionysius, Anectus, Paul, Crescens, Dionysius (another), Victorinus, Victor, Nicephorus, Claudius, Diodorus, Serapion, Papias, Leonidas, Chariessa, Nunechia, Basilissa, Nice, Galla, Galina, Theodora, and others at Corinth (258).
St. Paul of Taganrog (1879).
New Hieromartyr Demetrius, priest (1938).
Martyrs Codratus, Saturninus, and Rufinus of Nicomedia (3rd c.).
Venerable Anastasia the Patrician of Alexandria (567).
New Martyr Michael of Agrapha, Thessalonica (1544). (Greek).
Martyr Marcian (Greek).
Venerable George Arselaites (6th c.).
St. Attalus, abbot of Bobbio (626).
St. Kessog, bishop of Loch Lomond.
St. John of Khakuhli, also called Chrysostom (10th-11th c.) (Georgia).
The Scripture Readings
24 The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying,
“Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass,
And as I have purposed, so it shall stand:
25 That I will break the Assyrian in My land,
And on My mountains tread him underfoot.
Then his yoke shall be removed from them,
And his burden removed from their shoulders.
26 This is the purpose that is purposed against the whole earth,
And this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations.
27 For the Lord of hosts has purposed,
And who will annul it?
His hand is stretched out,
And who will turn it back?”
28 This is the burden which came in the year that King Ahaz died.
29 “Do not rejoice, all you of Philistia,
Because the rod that struck you is broken;
For out of the serpent’s roots will come forth a viper,
And its offspring will be a fiery flying serpent.
30 The firstborn of the poor will feed,
And the needy will lie down in safety;
I will kill your roots with famine,
And it will slay your remnant.
31 Wail, O gate! Cry, O city!
All you of Philistia are dissolved;
For smoke will come from the north,
And no one will be alone in his appointed times.”
32 What will they answer the messengers of the nation?
That the Lord has founded Zion,
And the poor of His people shall take refuge in it.
21 And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.
22 “While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease.”
God’s Promise to Noah
9 So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. 4 But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5 Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man.
6 “Whoever sheds man’s blood,
By man his blood shall be shed;
For in the image of God
He made man.
7 And as for you, be fruitful and multiply;
Bring forth abundantly in the earth
And multiply in it.”
19 As righteousness leads to life,
So he who pursues evil pursues it to his own death.
20 Those who are of a perverse heart are an abomination to the Lord,
But the blameless in their ways are His delight.
21 Though they join forces, the wicked will not go unpunished;
But the posterity of the righteous will be delivered.
22 As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout,
So is a lovely woman who lacks discretion.
23 The desire of the righteous is only good,
But the expectation of the wicked is wrath.
24 There is one who scatters, yet increases more;
And there is one who withholds more than is right,
But it leads to poverty.
25 The generous soul will be made rich,
And he who waters will also be watered himself.
26 The people will curse him who withholds grain,
But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.
27 He who earnestly seeks good finds favor,
But trouble will come to him who seeks evil.
28 He who trusts in his riches will fall,
But the righteous will flourish like foliage.
29 He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind,
And the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.
30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who wins souls is wise.
31 If the righteous will be recompensed on the earth,
How much more the ungodly and the sinner.
The House of the Righteous Shall Stand
12 Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge,
But he who hates correction is stupid.
2 A good man obtains favor from the Lord,
But a man of wicked intentions He will condemn.
3 A man is not established by wickedness,
But the root of the righteous cannot be moved.
4 An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,
But she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones.
5 The thoughts of the righteous are right,
But the counsels of the wicked are deceitful.
6 The words of the wicked are, “Lie in wait for blood,”
But the mouth of the upright will deliver them.