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August 15, 2014

The Three Ways the Theotokos Magnified the Lord

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

In today's great feast of the Mother of God, the Dormition of the Theotokos, my beloved Christians, the Church has arranged that during the Service of Matins the Gospel passage that should be read is the one that refers to the visit of the Panagia to Elizabeth after her Annunciation and the conception of Christ. As soon as Elizabeth called her the mother of the Christ and showed her deep respect, the Panagia poured out a hymn and doxology to God. The first verse of this doxology says: "My soul magnifies the Lord" (Lk. 1:46). In other words: "My soul glorifies the Lord".

Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite, who like all the saints harbored a great love for the Panagia, since they were Theotokophiles, interprets this by saying that the Theotokos magnified, or glorified, the Lord in three ways.

First, with thoughts that were great, lofty and worthy of the majesty of God. This is seen throughout the entire life of the Panagia, but especially when she was twelve years old in the Holy of Holies, where she lived in the theoria of God, or theoptia. She saw God and her nous was immersed in Him. The Panagia was found to be above every petty vision of earthly things in this world. Her nous was uninformed and unformed and so the Panagia lived like a bodiless angel. This is why no one else, not even an angel, nor any man, understood better the majesty of God than the Panagia.

Second, the Panagia glorified the Lord with words that were great and lofty and seemly for the majesty of God. Throughout her entire life she sang and glorified the majesty and glory of God with her lips. Indeed, in this ode we sing at every Service of Matins it shows that she is singing the powerful, almighty, holy and most-holy Name of God and proclaiming His mercy.

Third, the Panagia magnified God with deeds that were great, lofty and worthy of the majesty of God. The Panagia, who had a pure, sanctified and equal-to-the-angels life was worthy to become the Mother of Christ and thus benefitted the whole world. All the angels who governed the Nations did not conquer so many people for God nor did they magnify as much the dominion of the Lord as did the Theotokos by herself. Even all the Apostles, who were sent to all parts of the earth to save people, did not populate the Kingdom of the Lord as did the Theotokos by herself. She did the great deed within history, because by her purity she made God the Son of Man, she made people children of God, and she made angels unchangeable towards evil and made them worthy of greater gifts. Thus, the Panagia did the greatest mission in the world, without having to go from place to place, because by her sanctified life and disposition she became the Mother of Christ.

Therefore, the Panagia magnified the Lord with her lofty thoughts, words and deeds. She lived this throughout her entire life, but we see it also during her glorious Dormition. She magnified the Lord so much, so that Christ Himself came down from Heaven to receive her soul, and He filled her with glory and honor. All the Apostles, in a miraculous fashion, came from the ends of the inhabited world, by the energy of the Holy Spirit, and they were astounded by the divine glory that emanated from her holy body.

This means, according to Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite, that the Panagia, because she magnified in her life the Lord, lessened and annihilated the kingdom of the devil and eliminated idolatry. And just as the foremother Eve by her disobedience lessened the Lord and His dominion and at the same time magnified the devil and his kingdom, so did the Panagia, the daughter of Eve, in an opposite fashion, magnify the Lord and His dominion through her obedience, and lessened the kingdom of the devil, in order to heal the misconduct of the foremother.

All this indicates that just as the Panagia said "my soul magnifies the Lord", so also we should do the same in our lives, and we must imitate the Panagia in the doxology of God, with our thoughts, our words and our deeds. Let us have great thoughts regarding God, that is, to think of God and not so much of lesser and earthly things. Let us glorify God with theological words, keeping our mouths clean from profanity, insults and posturing. And let us do good deeds, so that we may return people, through repentance, to God.

When we magnify the Name of God with our thoughts, words and deeds, then we will receive the Grace of God, and we will have the love and protection of the Panagia, even when the time comes for us to depart this world.

I wish you many and blessed years. May the Panagia protect all of us by her Grace and prayers.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "Εορτή Κοίμησεως της Θεοτόκου", July 2007. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.