By His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Kastoria
Saint Theophanes the Branded, Bishop of Nicaea, praising the person of the Most Holy Theotokos, especially her ministry in the mystery "beyond reason and thought" of the incarnation of the Only Begotten Son of God, says the following:
"By your virgin blood was woven a fabric of heavenly clouds clothing you, Daughter, with a garment of incorruption clothe us who have been stripped naked by deceit."1
1. The Panagia is Fabric
The Creator of all and Logos, used her in order to weave from her flesh and the warp of the divine nature His divine-human hypostasis.
With this new garment was replaced the tunic of skin in which Adam was clothed after that terrible fall from the Paradise of bliss.
Therefore, full of admiration, Saint John of Damascus, along with the entire chorus of the Holy Fathers of our Church, confesses: "And You were born of her as one Christ, one Son, God and man both, perfect God and yet perfect man, fully God and fully man, a composite hypostasis from two perfect natures, the divine and human, and within two perfect natures, the divine and human. Not a fleshless God, nor simply a man, but the one and only Son of God and God with flesh, the same God and man together."2
That's why we chant: "You are the Son, dual in nature, but not in hypostasis; thus as perfect God and perfect man we truly proclaim Him by confessing Christ our God."3
She thus became "the workshop of our salvation", again according to the phrase of the God-bearer Damascene.4
Hence, her glory is not only the virtues of her holy parents, nor only her own gifts and heavenly blessings which God generously gave her, but the pinnacle is her "seedless conception" and the "divine indwelling" of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.
"The glory of the Theotokos is within, the fruit of her womb," Christ.5
2. The Theotokos is Fabric
She did not merely give birth to a God-bearer or divinized man, but she hosted in her immaculate womb God the Word, the Only Begotten Son of God, who with the good pleasure of the Father "and by the Holy Spirit and Mary the Virgin" "was given flesh supernaturally and without confusion."
In other words, God becomes a man, in order to give man, after having abolished death, the possibility of eternal life. And by this ministry the Theotokos grants:
- the clay for the Fashioner,
- and humanity to the God and Maker of all.
In this way her immaculate womb, which becomes a loom, weaves together the divine and human nature. "And Christ becomes consubstantial with His mother and with us, uniting closely these two natures, the divine and human, in His one hypostasis, without them being changed, confused or lost."6
This is why the God-bearing Damascene calls her Theotokos, "not only because of the nature of the Logos, but also for the deification of man."7
One Bishop of our Church writes: "The Myrrhbearing women 'bought perfumes in order to anoint Jesus'. The Theotokos did not buy the yarn needed by the Logos to weave the new garment of Grace for humanity. She offered herself and became the 'fabric' (ιστός) by which Christ could weave a new garment for humanity."8
She who fed the Food of Angels with her own food, continues to feed us with the fattened calf, the Body and Blood of her Son and God.
And that we are made worthy of this greatest of blessings, the partaking of the Immaculate Mysteries, this we ascribe to her.
This is why there is no Sacred Service of our Church that does not commemorate her all-holy name, and even in the Divine Liturgy we confess with the angelic powers and the saints that this bloodless sacrifice is offered "especially" for her person.
"We offer this reasonable worship on behalf of those who have reposed in faith... Especially the Panagia, the immaculate, most blessed, glorious, our Lady the Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary."
It is her that we address in the wonderful Service of the Akathist Hymn and we supplicate to her, since her womb became "a holy palace of our King and God", to make us also temples of God, to save us from dangers, give us salvation of our souls, to lead us through the storm of calamaties to the harbor of divine calmness, having brought forth the ruler of dispassion, who is Christ. And also, to illumine the eyes of our intellect to see the face of her Son and God. Because if we don't see God as light in this life, neither will we see Him in Heaven.
"Illumine the eyes of our intellect,
golden lamp of divine light,
and dissolve the gloominess of the passions, Daughter,
and brighten me entirely."9
1. Theotokarion, Tuesday Vespers, Plagal of the First, Ode Four.
2. St. John of Damascus, "On the Dormition of the Theotokos".
3. Sunday Vespers, Theotokion Sticheron, Plagal of the Fourth.
4. St. John of Damascus, "On the Dormition of the Theotokos".
8. Bishop Euthymios Styliou of Achelous, Η Πρώτη, εκδ. Σήμαντρο Αθήνα 1987, β΄ έκδ., σελ. 201.
9. Theotokarion, Tuesday Vespers, Plagal of the First, Ode Four.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.