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August 15, 2020

Three Ways the Panagia Magnified the Lord (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

In today's great Theometoric feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, beloved Christians, there has been appointed by the Church for us in the Service of Matins to read the Gospel passage referring 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 Christ and showed deep reverence for her, the Panagia put forth a hymn and doxology to God. The first verse of this Doxology is:

"My soul magnifies the Lord" (Luke 1:46). In other words, "My soul glorifies the Lord."

Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite, who nurtured, like all the saints, a great love for the Panagia, since they were Theotokophiles, interprets that the Panagia magnified, that is, glorified the Lord in three ways.

First, with thoughts that are great, lofty, and worthy of God's majesty. This is evident from the fact that the Panagia throughout her life, but especially when she was twelve years old in the Holy of Holies, lived constantly in the theoria of God, that is, the vision of God. She saw God and her mind was immersed in Him. The Panagia was above any petty vision of earthly things in this world. Her mind was ignorant and formless and so the Panagia lived like an incorporeal angel. That is why no one else, neither angel nor man, understood the greatness of God more than the Panagia.

Second, the Panagia glorified the Lord with words that are great and lofty and worthy of the majesty of God. Throughout her life she praised and glorified the greatness and glory of God with her mouth. In fact, in this ode that we sing every time in the Service of Matins, it seems that she praises the mighty and almighty, holy and all-holy Name of God and proclaims His mercy.

Third, the Panagia magnified God with works that are great, lofty and worthy of divine majesty. The Panagia who had a pure and sanctified and angelic life was found worthy to be the Mother of Christ and in this way benefited the whole universe. All the angels in charge of the Gentiles did not submit so many people to God, nor did they magnify the dominion of God as much as the Panagia alone. And all the Apostles, who were sent to all parts of the earth to save people, did not expand the Kingdom of the Lord as much as the Panagia alone did. She did the great work in history, because with her purity she made God the son of man, humans children of God and the angels proved invulnerable to evil and had them found worthy of greater gifts. Thus, the Panagia did the greatest mission in the world, without going from place to place, because with her sanctified life and conduct she became the Mother of Christ.

Therefore, the Panagia glorified the Lord with her lofty thoughts, words and deeds. She experienced this throughout her life, but we also see it during her glorious Dormition. She glorified the Lord so much that Christ Himself came down from Heaven to receive her soul, filled it with glory and honor, and all the Apostles, in a miraculous way, came from the ends of the universe, by the energy of the Holy Spirit, and were ecstatic by the divine glory contained in her holy body.

This means, according to Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite, that the Panagia, because she magnified the Lord in her life, she therefore reduced and annihilated the kingdom of the devil and eradicated idolatry. And as the foremother Eve by her disobedience drove away the Lord and His dominion and at the same time magnified the devil and his kingdom, so the Panagia, the daughter of Eve, had to magnify the Lord and His dominion, through obedience, and to diminish the kingdom of the devil, in order to cure the transgression of the foremother.

All this shows that just as the Panagia said "my soul magnifies the Lord", so we must do in our lives, and imitate the Panagia in the glorifying of God, with thoughts, words and deeds. To have great thoughts about God, that is, to think of God and not so much petty and earthly things, to glorify God with theological words, to keep our mouths clean from obscenities, insults and chatter, and to do good deeds, with which to return people, through repentance, to God.

When we magnify the Name of God with 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 has come for us to leave this world.

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

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.