St. George
Serbian Orthodox Church
Carmichaels, PA

Thoughts On The Mother of God




Icon From St. Sava's Cell - Mt. Athos

Mary, the Mother of God

We pray to the Mother of God and rejoice in her intercession before her Son. We seek guidance from the Mother of God on a daily basis, learning from her purity and example of attentiveness and obedience.

The Mother of God shares a relationship with her Son unduplicated in history. The unity experienced by the Mother of God with her Son Jesus Christ reveals the love God had for Mary and the love she had for God.

Centuries have passed since the Nativity of the Lord Jesus Christ. The virgin birth of Jesus Christ stands through the centuries, capturing the thoughts of believers and calling attention to the acts of God for the salvation of humankind.

We cannot look to the Theotokos alone. Her honor comes through being chosen by God to be the virgin-birthgiver. Her honor comes in the unity she experienced with Christ. Her honor comes out of the identification she has with a life that is associated through the centuries with goodness.

People pray to the Mother of God with regularity as individuals. People pray to the Mother of God in services of the Church with regularity. Miracles and good works of the Mother of God have been related through the centuries.

Time has not caused a distance or insurmountable barrier to be erected prohibiting contact with or belief in the power of the Mother of God.

The Holy Orthodox Church celebrates the Nativity of the Mother of God in September each year. The Holy Orthodox Church remembers the Dormition of the Mother of God each August.

The Mother of God was with Jesus Christ when He entered the world in bodily form. She was with Him at the time of the crucifixion. The Mother of God knew the joy of Christ's birth. She knew the pain of His bodily death.

At the wedding of Cana, Mary had a major part in Jesus acting to turn the water into wine. The intercession of Mary with her Son Jesus Christ draws the prayers of believers from nations around the world.

Time and cultural changes have not silenced the witness to Mary through the centuries. Time and cultural changes have not prevented the Church from venerating the Mother of God. Icons depict the Mother of God in many different ways. The icon of the Annunciation shows the angel visiting Mary, announcing the coming birth of Christ.

The icon of the Protection of the Mother of God evokes an image of great power. The icon of the Mother of God, Joy of All Who Sorrow, draws attention to the ill, the grieving, and the poor. The Mother of God is present in icons of the Holy Ascension of Jesus Christ.

The return of Jesus Christ, His Second Coming, is of permanent interest to believers. In the Nicean-Constantinopolitan Creed, Orthodox Christians always profess belief in the Second Coming. Imagine the joy of the Mother of God in knowing of the Holy Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The thoughts to be attributed to the Mother of God regarding Christ's Second Coming exceed human capability.

The Mother of God has a linear presence which extends beyond the time marked as her Dormition. Though her earthly life was finite, Christians reach to the Mother of God in prayer and are able to communicate in a way of lasting value.

The Holy Orthodox Church focuses particular attention on the Mother of God on the Feasts of her Nativity, Presentation in the Temple, the Meeting of the Lord, the Annunciation and Dormition.

The hymnography of the Feasts are rich in instruction. Orthodox Christians do well to study the hymnography of the Church. Much learning is available in the texts of the services throughout the year.

Images of the Mother of God are assigned prominent places in Orthodox Churches. Her image is frequently found on the ceiling in the Altar area of the Church. Her image is always adjacent to the Royal Doors, opposite the icon of Christ.

At least one icon stand in each Church normally holds an icon of the Mother of God. Icons of the Feast of the Mother of God are placed in the center of the Church on the respective Feast days.

The Dormition Fast each August gives great emphasis to the Mother of God in the lives of Orthodox Christians. Serious followers of the Fast will meditate on the Mother of God each day.

The literature on the Mother of God through the centuries is enormous. Serious students have abundant resources from which to draw. Ancient documents and modern texts give a range for thoughtful consideration.

Orthodox Christian must come to terms with the place of the Mother of God in the life of Jesus Christ. Her place is too prominent not to consider in depth.

The obedience of the Mother of God is impetus for self-examination among serious Christians. Questions to consider include the ability of the self to be actualized consistent with the teachings and life of Jesus Christ and the ability of the self to reflect a state of purity which holds the Mother of God as a model.

Believers desire eternal life. Believers seek the Kingdom of God. Believers desire lasting unity with Jesus Christ. The Mother of God stands at the forefront of humanity. Believers do well in considering all aspects of the life of the Mother of God.

There is only one Mother of God. Of all the women born, throughout all the centuries, Mary was chosen our to time to bear the Christ-Child. No woman in the centuries before Mary or in the centuries since the birth of Christ, can lay claim to an honor equal to Mary's.

Many women have given birth to babies who have grown to be saints of God. Mary honors every mother, having been honored by God in the birth process. Mary honors every woman, having been chosen as a woman for Christ's entry into the world.

The references to the Mother of God in the Divine Liturgy and other services of the Church strike the attention of believers. Worshippers are rapidly educated about the importance of the Mother of God.

Mary's presence is intact in the Nicean-Constantinopolitan Creed. She is a fundamental part of the Christian way of life. At each Baptism, new Christians embrace the place of Mary in the Church.

Learning about Mary is an on-going process throughout the Christian life. As we grow, we begin to see and know her differently. Periodically, we need to revisit our thoughts about Mary and reconstruct them to conform to our state of growth. Mary helps believers to grow.

Stagnancy denies the believer the joy of growing in Christ. Mary was a part of the initial joy experienced due to Christ's Nativity. Mary can help contemporary believers know the joy of Christ. The various Akathist services to the Mother of God discipline the believer to focus on the far-reaching impact of the Mother of God. Praying the Akathists to the Mother of God with regularity helps to unite the believer with Mary in prayer.

We do not live in isolation. We do not pray in isolation. Christianity requires that we look within ourselves, at the same time being attentive to the needs of our neighbor.Mary is an irreplaceable figure in Christ's life. When we know more about Mary, we know more about Christ.

The love of Christ for His Mother was shown when He took time to consider His Mother at the time of His death. The love of Christ for His Mother was shown when He took time to perform the miracle at the wedding in Cana. The love of Christ for His Mother continues to be shown by the good works attributed to her through the centuries.

May the days of the Dormition Fast enrich us in the life of the Mother of God. May we contemplate her place in Christ's life and in our own lives. Let us reach out in prayer to Mary and may Mary reach out to help us. May she be instrumental in our salvation.

Mary walked this earth in bodily form. She lived during a particular time in history. She was observed by other human beings. The Holy Scriptures are a record of important aspects of her life.

The Old Testament has references which the Church concludes and teaches as a foreshadowing of Mary, a written image of her who was to come at later time.

The definitive presence of Mary in history provides a trail of evidence which can be conclusive. Researchers have much to work with as they set out to study Mary.

Any study of the Mother of God carries with it the joy of discovery about Christ. We deny ourselves the joy of Christ when we choose not to think seriously about Him. We deny ourselves the joy of Christ when we do not think seriously about His Mother.

Being serious about Christ does not preclude being joyful in Christ. Being serious about Mary does not preclude sharing in her joy in Christ.

The joy of Christ cannot be contained. The joy of Christ is to be shared. Mary shared and was chosen to share herself with Christ. Let us seek to share in understanding Mary's place in Christ's life, that He may live in our hearts and in our midst at all times.


The Nativity of the Mother of God
September 8/21, 2002

Today the Orthodox World directs attention to the Nativity of the Mother of God. Mary’s birth was cause for great joy. She was to ascend to heights reached by no other woman. She was to enter a relationship with Jesus Christ unlike any other known to humanity.

The birth of Mary requires Orthodox Christians to think of her as an infant born to her parents Joachim and Anna. Mary grew from infancy to motherhood. Born of a mother, Mary became the Mother known around the world and through the centuries.

God gave Mary life in infancy. God gave Mary the opportunity to give birth to Jesus Christ, the granter of eternal life. Serious Orthodox Christians think about the meaning of life. Serious Orthodox Christians find the meaning of life in Jesus Christ.

Orthodox believers look to Mary today as they have through the centuries. She is a source of inspiration. She is a model of purity and obedience. She is an image of prayer.

Orthodox Christians draw near to Mary in prayer, asking her to intercede with the Lord Jesus Christ. Music and iconography in honor of the Theotokos reflect the reverence afforded her.

The icon of Mary’s birth is found in Orthodox Churches around the world. The celebration of her birth is preserved in the Holy Orthodox Church and in the hearts and minds of Orthodox believers.

Each person receives life from God. Each person chooses the way he or she lives the life given by God. Mary chose to be obedient. She remained ever-pure. Believers seeking to be united with Christ look to Mary and her relationship with Christ.

Time is penetrated in the celebration of Mary’s birth. Orthodox Christians are linked through the centuries. The love of Christ for Mary and the love of Mary for Christ are subjects of continuous interest to Orthodox believers.

Today church bells ring. The Divine Liturgy is celebrated in places around the world where Orthodox believers have built temples to God. The celebration of Mary’s birth is cause for serious believers to come to church.

Mary continues to draw believers to Christ. Mary continues to stand out among women. Mary continues to inspire generation after generation.

The world becomes new each time the Divine Liturgy is served. The world changes each time a believer prays.

The world has not been the same since Jesus Christ was born. Today we celebrate the birth of Mary, the Mother of God, the Bogorodica. Let us be thankful for all the good done by Mary, for all the prayers directed to her and for her continued presence before our Lord Jesus Christ.

We often pray “Most Holy Theotokos save us!” Let us be thankful for prayers answered, for prayers heard, and for miracles rendered.

St.George Serbian Orthodox Church, Carmichaels, Pennsylvania. September 8/21,2002.

The Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God.


Fr. Rodney Torbic

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