August 14, 2014

The Theotokos and Mother of the Light

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The feast we are festively celebrating in the middle of August indicates to us the all-revered person of our Panagia. The feast is designated as the "Dormition of our Most-Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary". In these words are hidden the entire mystery of our Panagia, which is associated with the mystery of Christ. In the sermon today we will make a short analysis of the words in this title "Dormition of our Most-Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary".

The death of the Panagia is called "Dormition", because on the one hand death after the Resurrection of Christ is a sleep, since all will be raised bodily at the Second Coming of Christ, and on the other hand because our Panagia after her Dormition was translocated to the heavens. Thus, according to the tradition of the Church, that which will take place with everyone at the Second Coming of Christ, took place with the Panagia at her Dormition.

Next, the Panagia is called "Most-Holy", because she is not only holy, sanctified, but she is above all those who are holy. She is "more honorable than the Cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim". Saint Gregory Palamas says that the Panagia is the peak and perfection of all the saints. Indeed, all the Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, Fathers, Venerable Ones, and generally all the saints sing her praises and glorify her.

Also, the Panagia is called "Lady", because she is the Mother of the Master Christ. Indeed, Christ is the Lord and Master of heaven and earth, as consubstantial with the Father and the Holy Spirit, while His Mother, from whom He received His human nature, is the Lady, having a special place in the mystery of the divine economy, as well as a special place in the life of the Church, and she constantly intercedes for us.

In addition, the Panagia is designated as "Theotokos", because she simply did not give birth to a man of stature, but the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Nestorius and those heretics like-minded with him were repulsed by the epithet "Mother of God", as well as the term "Theotokos", because they argued that the Virgin gave birth to Christ the man, not God, Who "came forth", or was "passed forth", or was "brought forth" through her, but was not born "from her". Yet the Third Ecumenical Synod established the faith of the Church, that the Panagia is the Theotokos, she gave birth to God, she gave flesh to the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, and this is why she should be called "Theotokos". This is not simply a philosophy, but theology, since the Apostles who saw Christ shining in the Light of His divinity came to know by experience that He is "Light from Light, true God from true God", which is why the Panagia is the Theotokos and Mother of the Light. Thus, in the ninth ode of the Service of Matins the priest makes the pronouncement: "The Theotokos and the Mother of the Light, honoring with hymns let us magnify."

In the title of today's feast of the Panagia, she is also referred to as "Ever-Virgin Mary". The word "Mary" is her name, and the word "Ever-Virgin" shows the mystery of ever-virginity, her perfect purity, since she was a virgin before giving birth, during her pregnancy and after birth. In every icon of the Panagia the iconographer paints three stars - one on her forehead, one on her right shoulder and one on her left shoulder, which denote the ever-virginity of our Panagia. This is a mystery. And this is verified through the experience of divine glory.

Therefore, the feast of the "Dormition of our Most-Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary" shows us the entire wondrous and blessed Person of our Panagia, who we must honor with fasting, prayer, repentance, doxology and Divine Communion of the Body and Blood of her Son, with spiritual joy. Also, honor is given with the revered offering of her honorable name and with supplications and prayers to her who intercedes for all of us.

Today, we must be glad on this day because we are given the opportunity to take a vacation and to visit beloved places and persons, otherwise why are we given an opportunity to celebrate, except that the honorable and blessed person of our Panagia is celebrated, who also was honored by Christ Himself.

Many years, my brethren, and may the Panagia intercede for all of us and protect us from all evil.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "Ἡ Θεοτόκος καί Μητέρα τοῦ Φωτός", July 2014. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.