The Annunciation of our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary

The Feast of the Annunciation is one of the earliest Christian feasts, and was already being celebrated in the fourth century. There is a painting of the Annunciation in the catacomb of Priscilla in Rome dating from the second century. The Council of Toledo in 656 mentions the Feast, and the Council in Trullo in 692 says that the Annunciation was celebrated during Great Lent. The Greek and Slavonic names for the Feast may be

HOLY NATIVITY: Encyclicals of Patriarch Bartholomew & Archbishop Demetrios for the Feast of the Nativity of Christ 2013

Prot. No. 1109 Patriarchal Encyclical for Christmas + BARTHOLOMEWBy God’s Mercy Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical PatriarchTo the Plenitude of the Church:Grace, mercy, and peace from the Savior Christ, born in Bethlehem Beloved brothers and sisters, children in the Lord, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.” (Isaiah 9.5) Many centuries ago, the Prophet foresaw and announced with enthusiasm and joy the birth of the child Jesus from

Agia Skepi, OHI Day, and the People of Greece

While Most of the Orthodox Christian world celebrates the Holy Protection, or Agia Skepi, of the Theotokos on October 1st according to ancient custom, Greeks celebrate the Holy Protection on October 28th as a special holiday in order to invite the secular government of Greece to honor the Theotokos for her special protection over the Greek people during World War 2. The celebration of Holy Protection dates back to 626 A.D., when the miraculous intervention

The Mother of Us All

Cardinal Newman in his admirable “Letter addressed to the Rev. E. B. Pusey, D.D., on occasion of his Eirenicon” (1865) says very aptly: “Theology is occupied with supernatural matters, and is ever running into mysteries, which reason can neither explain nor adjust. Its lines of thought come to an abrupt termination, and to pursue them or to complete them is to plunge down the abyss. St. Augustine warns us that, if we attempt to find

Her Personal Perfection

The intimate experience of the Mother of the Lord is hidden from us. And nobody was ever able to share this unique experience, by the very nature of the case. It is the mystery of the person. This accounts for the dogmatic reticence of the Church in Mariological doctrine. The Church speaks of her rather in the language of devotional poetry, in the language of antinomical metaphors and images. There is no need, and no

An Eve’s Descendent, too

Mary was chosen and elected to become the Mother of the Incarnate Lord. We must assume that she was fit for that awful office, that she was prepared for her exceptional calling-prepared by God. Can we properly define the nature and character of this preparation? We are facing here the crucial antinomy (to which we have alluded above). The Blessed Virgin was representative of the race, i.e. of the fallen human race, of the “old

Be it according to Thy Word

Again, the Annunciation is “the beginning of our salvation and the revelation of the mystery which is from eternity: the Son of God becometh the Son of the Virgin, and Gabriel proclaimeth good tidings of grace” (Troparion of the Feast of the Annunciation). The divine will has been declared and proclaimed by the archangel. But the Virgin was not silent. She responded to the divine call, responded in humility and faith. “Behold the handmaid of

The Divine Election

Mary “has found favor with God” (Luke 1:30). She was chosen and ordained to serve in the Mystery of the Incarnation. And by this eternal election or predestination she was in a sense set apart and given an unique privilege and position in the whole of mankind, nay in the whole of creation. She was given a transcendent rank, as it were. She was at once a representative of the human race, and set apart.

A Unique Relationship

“But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman” (Gal. 3:4). This is a scriptural statement of the same mystery with which the Fathers were wrestling at Chalcedon. Now, what is the full meaning and purpose of this phrase: “born of woman?” Motherhood, in general, is by no means exhausted by the mere fact of a physical procreation. It would be lamentable blindness if we ignored its spiritual aspect.

The Nature of Christ

The name Theotokos stresses the fact that the Child whom Mary bore was not a “simple man,” not a human person, but the only-begotten Son of God, “One of the Holy Trinity,” yet Incarnate. This is obviously the corner-stone of the Orthodox faith. Let us recall the formula of Chalcedon: “Following, then, the holy Fathers, we confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ… before the ages begotten of the Father as to