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« on: August 14, 2008, 09:46:20 PM »

What do the Orthodox believe concerning the spiritual limitations of Mary? I ask this because I was watching a Roman Catholic prayer show about Mary on EWTN, and they were giving her such titles as "Gate of Heaven", "Powerful Intercessor", "Splendor of the Church", "Tower of David" and "Morning star" and "refuge of sinners".
I immediately got to thinking that such titles really only belong to Jesus Christ!  Huh
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« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2008, 09:52:05 PM »

As far as I know, the Orthodox universally believe that the Most Holy Theotokos was the best, the most perfect human who ever lived. Yet, of course She was not divine. She is not viewed by the Orthodox as a "mediatrix" between God and humans, because only Christ, Who is God and Man, is capable of performing this role.
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« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2008, 10:00:54 PM »

Everything the Theotokos is is because of her relationship to Christ, not just the fact that she is His Mother, but because she heard Him and obeyed Him. She is the Christian par excellence, and the hesychast par excellence. She is also the Martyr par excellence who stood at the Cross watching her Son and God die Who was flesh of her flesh and blood of her blood. She is the Intercessor par excellence who was able to convince her Son to help in the predicament of the newly married couple at Cana, and He performed a miracle at her request, even though His "time had not yet come". And she is the director of Souls to Christ who said to the people at Cana "Do whatever He tells you".
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« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2008, 10:46:24 PM »

Do the Orthodox see these titles as referring to Mary in a "mediatrix" role or no? Do the Orthodox use these same titles to refer to her?
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« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2008, 11:11:24 PM »

Do the Orthodox see these titles as referring to Mary in a "mediatrix" role or no? Do the Orthodox use these same titles to refer to her?

In a way, anyone who intercedes for someone else is a "mediator" or "mediatrix"; I don't think we should be so frightened of the term "mediatrix". But there is some room for concern when people begin using terms like "Mediatrix of All Graces" which, from an Orthodox point of view, would mean that the Uncreated Divine Energies can only come to us through the Theotokos. From an Orthodox point of view, this is erroneous.
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« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2008, 11:53:42 PM »

What do the Orthodox believe concerning the spiritual limitations of Mary? I ask this because I was watching a Roman Catholic prayer show about Mary on EWTN, and they were giving her such titles as "Gate of Heaven", "Powerful Intercessor", "Splendor of the Church", "Tower of David" and "Morning star" and "refuge of sinners".
I immediately got to thinking that such titles really only belong to Jesus Christ!  Huh

These titles are straight from the Litany of Loreto. Here it is in its entirety:

Quote
V. Lord, have mercy.
R. Christ have mercy.
V. Lord have mercy. Christ hear us.
R. Christ graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of Virgins, pray for us.
Mother of Christ, pray for us.
Mother of divine grace, pray for us.
Mother most pure, pray for us.
Mother most chaste, pray for us.
Mother inviolate, pray for us.
Mother undefiled, pray for us.
Mother most amiable, pray for us.
Mother most admirable, pray for us.
Mother of good Counsel, pray for us.
Mother of our Creator, pray for us.
Mother of our Savior, pray for us.
Virgin most prudent, pray for us.
Virgin most venerable, pray for us.
Virgin most renowned, pray for us.
Virgin most powerful, pray for us.
Virgin most merciful, pray for us.
Virgin most faithful, pray for us.
Mirror of justice, pray for us.
Seat of wisdom, pray for us.
Cause of our joy, pray for us.
Spiritual vessel, pray for us.
Vessel of honor, pray for us.
Singular vessel of devotion, pray for us.
Mystical rose, pray for us.
Tower of David, pray for us.
Tower of ivory, pray for us.
House of gold, pray for us.
Ark of the covenant, pray for us.
Gate of heaven, pray for us.
Morning star, pray for us.
Health of the sick, pray for us.
Refuge of sinners, pray for us.
Comforter of the afflicted, pray for us.
Help of Christians, pray for us.
Queen of Angels, pray for us.
Queen of Patriarchs, pray for us.
Queen of Prophets, pray for us.
Queen of Apostles, pray for us.
Queen of Martyrs, pray for us.
Queen of Confessors, pray for us.
Queen of Virgins, pray for us.
Queen of all Saints, pray for us.
Queen conceived without origin pray for us.al sin,
Queen assumed into heaven, pray for us.
Queen of the most holy Rosary, pray for us.
Queen of peace, pray for us.

V. Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
R. Spare us, O Lord.
V. Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
R. Graciously hear us, O Lord.
V. Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray. Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, that we thy servants may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body, and by the glorious intercession of blessed Mary, ever Virgin, may we be freed from present sorrow, and rejoice in eternal happiness. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

The versicle and prayer after the litany may be varied by season. Thus, during Advent (from the fourth Sunday before Christmas to Christmas Eve):

V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray. O God, who hast willed that by the message of an Angel, thy Word should receive flesh from the womb of the Virgin Mary: grant unto thy suppliants, that we who believe that she is truly the Mother of God, may be assisted by her intercession before Thee. Through the same Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

From Christmas to Candlemass (the Feast of the Presentation), that is through February 1:

V. Thou gavest birth without loss of thy virginity.
R. Intercede for us, O holy Mother of God.

Let us pray. O God, Who by the fruitful virginity of blessed Mary hast offered unto the human race the rewards of eternal salvation, grant, we beseech thee, that we may know the effects of her intercession, through whom we have deserved to receive the author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son. R. Amen.

From Candlemass to Easter (through Holy Week), AND from the day after Pentecost (or from Trinity Sunday, if Pentecost is celebrated with octave) to the beginning of Advent:

V. "Pray for us" and prayer "Grant unto thy servants," as above:

During Eastertide (from Easter day through Pentecost, and throughout the octave of Pentecost if it is celebrated):

V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord is truely risen, alleluia.

Let us pray. O God, Who by the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, hast vouchsafed to make glad the whole world, grant, we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His mother, we may attain the joys of eternal life, through the same Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
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« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2008, 11:54:56 PM »

Here is a link that describes each of those titles:

http://www.intermirifica.org/Mary/marylitany.htm
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« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2008, 12:06:17 AM »

In a way, anyone who intercedes for someone else is a "mediator" or "mediatrix"; I don't think we should be so frightened of the term "mediatrix". But there is some room for concern when people begin using terms like "Mediatrix of All Graces" which, from an Orthodox point of view, would mean that the Uncreated Divine Energies can only come to us through the Theotokos. From an Orthodox point of view, this is erroneous.

Saint Gregory Palamas doesn't seem to have a problem with it:

Quote
Hence, as it was through the Theotokos alone that the Lord came to us, appeared upon earth and lived among men, being invisible to all before this time, so likewise in the endless age to come, without her mediation, every emanation of illuminating divine light, every revelation of the mysteries of the Godhead, every form of spiritual gift, will exceed the capacity of every created being. She alone has received the all-pervading fullness of Him that filleth all things, and through her all may now contain it, for she dispenses it according to the power of each, in proportion and to the degree of the purity of each. Hence she is the treasury and overseer of the riches of the Godhead. For it is an everlasting ordinance in the heavens that the inferior partake of what lies beyond being, by the mediation of the superior, and the Virgin Mother is incomparably superior to all. It is through her that as many as partake of God do partake, and as many as know God understand her to be the enclosure of the Uncontainable One, and as many as hymn God praise her together with Him. She is the cause of what came before her, the champion of what came after her and the agent of things eternal. She is the substance of the prophets, the principle of the apostles, the firm foundation of the martyrs and the premise of the teachers of the Church . She is the glory of those upon earth, the joy of celestial beings, the adornment of all creation. She is the beginning and the source and root of unutterable good things; she is the summit and consummation of everything holy.

O divine, and now heavenly, Virgin, how can I express all things which pertain to thee? How can I glorify the treasury of all glory? Merely thy memory sanctifies whoever keeps it, and a mere movement towards thee makes the mind more translucent, and thou dost exalt it straightway to the Divine. The eye of the intellect is through thee made limpid, and through thee the spirit of a man is illumined by the sojourning of the Spirit of God, since thou hast become the steward of the treasury of divine gifts and their vault, and this, not in order to keep them for thyself, but so that thou mightest make created nature replete with grace. Indeed, the steward of those inexhaustible treasuries watches over them so that the riches may be dispensed; and what could confine that wealth which wanes not? Richly, therefore, bestow thy mercy and thy graces upon all thy people, this thine inheritance, O Lady! Dispel the perils which menace us. See how greatly we are expended by our own and by aliens, by those without and by those within. Uplift all by thy might: mollify our fellow citizens one with another and scatter those who assault us from without-like savage beasts. Measure out thy succour and healing in proportion to our passions, apportioning abundant grace to our souls and bodies, sufficient for every necessity. And although we may prove incapable of containing thy bounties, augment our capacity and in this manner bestow them upon us, so that being both saved and fortified by thy grace, we may glorify the pre-eternal Word Who was incarnate of thee for our sakes, together with His unoriginate Father and the life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto the endless ages. Amen.

From his Homily on the Dormition
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« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2008, 12:25:30 AM »

^ The other paragraphs have to be read and understood just to place the 2 quoted paragraphs in their proper and Orthodox context.

Mary's role as mediator is clearly defined from these hymns of Paraclesis (Supplication) chanted during the first 13 days of August.

From the GOA Small Paraclesis Service:

Lady and the Mother of Him who saves,
Receive the supplications
Of the lowly who pray to you;
Mediate between us
And the One you brought forth;
O Lady of all people, Intercede for us....

I have you as Mediator
Before God who loves mankind;
May He not question my action
Before the hosts of the Angels,
I ask of you, O Virgin,
Hasten now quickly to my aid.
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« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2008, 12:45:45 AM »

She is human, still. What "uncreated Divine energies" coming from Her are we talking about?
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« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2008, 01:25:51 AM »

^ The other paragraphs have to be read and understood just to place the 2 quoted paragraphs in their proper and Orthodox context.

Thanks, SolEX01.
Proof-texting can really skew things.
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« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2008, 01:31:47 AM »

My 2 cents' worth:

A look at any number of Theotokia and the Akathists to the Mother of God (both the original Akathist, and the multitude of others written for her icons) will show clearly that she is indeed the most exalted and glorious of all creation. The imagery used to describe her is evocative and stunning. Yet, the Orthodox have also NEVER implied or stated that she is herself divine in any way. Yes, she was graced with divinity in that she submitted completely to the Divine will, and conceived and gave birth to the Divine (the Son of God), but she was still human and mortal as we all are.

This is one of the great differences between the Orthodox and RC regard for her: The RC, through their doctrine of "immaculate conception" have transformed the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God to the "Assumption". Read the Orthodox liturgical text for the Vigil of this feast, and there is no doubt that she died physically, as any mortal would. There are constant references to her physical death and burial. The exaposteilarion of this feast is particularly instructive and moving:


O you Apostles, assembled here from the ends of the earth, bury my body in Gethsemane; and You, my Son, receive my spirit.

The only reference to her "bodily assumption" is the appearance of Apostle Thomas at her grave three days after her death, and, in an echo of the Resurrection of Christ, he found her grave empty of her body. By contrast, because of the adoption of the doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary, the RC church has had to transform the death of the Mother of God to the bodily assumption into heaven, as one who was immaculately conceived (i.e. without original sin) could not possibly suffer bodily death and possible corruption, as this would contradict this doctrine. This is a prime example of the dangers of "doctrinal development" as espoused by the RC church.

It is also worth looking at the iconography of the Dormition: The Virgin is laid out on a funeral bier, surrounded by apostles, hierarchs, angels, and the faithful. Her body is being censed, those around her are sorrowful and pensive. In the centre is Christ, surrounded by a mandorla representing the blaze of divine uncreated light and glory, within which are numerous seraphim. He is holding a babe in swaddling clothes, which is the soul of His mother. He is her God, but He is also her Son, and, as she is "who is greater in honour and more glorious than the hosts on high", it makes perfect doctrinal sense, therefore, that Christ Himself escorts His mother's soul to heaven, not even entrusting it to angels.
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« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2008, 01:35:33 AM »

Thanks, SolEX01.

You're welcome although I ought to thank you for introducing proof-texting to my vocabulary.  Smiley

Proof-Texting Fallacies

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« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2008, 01:42:07 AM »

These titles are straight from the Litany of Loreto. Here it is in its entirety:

Since your denomination teaches that the Virgin Mary was conceived without sin, never experienced corruption or death and was bodily assumed directly into Heaven like Elijah and Enoch, certainly all of those superfluous terms can be used to describe the Virgin Mary except that the Orthodox need not use superfluous terms to describe one who is More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim; without defilement you gave birth to God the Word: true Theotokos, we magnify you.
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« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2008, 12:56:45 PM »

^ The other paragraphs have to be read and understood just to place the 2 quoted paragraphs in their proper and Orthodox context.

Context is important, but I can't post entire articles - or entire books of the Bible - just to make sure everyone has the complete context. The best I can do is link to the original article - or at least properly cite it if no online source is available. I did that.

Reading the entire article though gives no waver to the meaning I presented. It basically boils down to this: God is the ultimate source of all grace and gifts; God, in His Will, has given Mary charge over this treasury; Mary, in accordance with the divine Will, dispenses to mankind His graces and gifts.
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« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2008, 01:12:33 PM »

Thanks for all the help!
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« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2008, 01:16:15 PM »

This is one of the great differences between the Orthodox and RC regard for her: The RC, through their doctrine of "immaculate conception" have transformed the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God to the "Assumption". Read the Orthodox liturgical text for the Vigil of this feast, and there is no doubt that she died physically, as any mortal would. There are constant references to her physical death and burial. The exaposteilarion of this feast is particularly instructive and moving:

Since your denomination teaches that the Virgin Mary was conceived without sin, never experienced corruption or death and was bodily assumed directly into Heaven like Elijah and Enoch, certainly all of those superfluous terms can be used to describe the Virgin Mary except that the Orthodox need not use superfluous terms to describe one who is More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim; without defilement you gave birth to God the Word: true Theotokos, we magnify you.

Please, if you're going to criticize the Catholic Church, at least know what She teaches. Whether Mary died or not is NOT part of the dogmatic teaching, one way or the other. The feast, which we celebrate today, commemorates "that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory." (Pope Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus, 44)

The dogma of the Immaculate Conception tells us "that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin". (Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus) She was, in other words, redeemed by Jesus Christ in advance of the Paschal Sacrifice - after all, God isn't constrained by time; He transcends time. So Mary was in the same state as Eve in the Garden of Eden; Eve chose to sin, Mary chose to obey God's Will - that's why (at least one reason) she is referred to as the New Eve.


The titles of the Litany of Loreto are not superfluous (do you think the title of Mother of God from the Council of Ephesus is superfluous?). They each relate directly to her relationship to God and to us, in so far as she aids us in coming to Christ. The Litany(ies) in the West is also quite similar to the Akathist(s) in the East (do you think that the Akathist lays on superfluous titles? i.e., <-Rejoice, star that causest the Sun to appear: = Morning Star, pray for us->).
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« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2008, 01:26:40 PM »

^ Does the Catholic Church commemorate Elijah and Enoch for also being assumed body and soul into Heaven?  Are there superflous litanies for Elijah and Enoch like there are for Mary?

I'm not criticizing the Catholic Church and I'm reiterating what the Catholic Church teaches about Mary.
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« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2008, 01:47:02 PM »

Context is important, but I can't post entire articles - or entire books of the Bible - just to make sure everyone has the complete context. The best I can do is link to the original article - or at least properly cite it if no online source is available. I did that.

Selective cut and paste of documents written by Holy Fathers (especially after the Great Schism like St. Gregory Palamas) doesn't prove anything.

Reading the entire article though gives no waver to the meaning I presented. It basically boils down to this: God is the ultimate source of all grace and gifts; God, in His Will, has given Mary charge over this treasury; Mary, in accordance with the divine Will, dispenses to mankind His graces and gifts.

Orthodox do not believe in the underlined part.  The underlined part transforms Mary into a Divine entity rather than a Human entity.  Re-read the passages from Genesis about Jacob's ladder and the Burning Bush....
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« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2008, 03:14:44 PM »

Grace and Peace Everyone,

I don't know about everyone on this forum but I just spent a great deal of the last 24 hours honoring the Most Holy Theotokos, Mother of Life.

Could we continue to honor her and her Dormition with some civility toward our visitors from the West? I'm just asking. I'm tired and I'm wore out and I'm just not up for all this pickering.

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« Reply #20 on: August 15, 2008, 03:18:59 PM »

^Amen to that.
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« Reply #21 on: August 15, 2008, 03:31:23 PM »

Please, also be aware that this is the Faith Issues section, a place for "Discussion of issues and inquiries related to the Orthodox Christian faith."  For our RC posters, this does place some rather strict limitations on how much we can discuss issues from your point of view, which is why we have a separate Orthodox-Catholic board.  Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

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« Reply #22 on: August 15, 2008, 04:29:32 PM »

You are truly deserving of glory, O Theotokos, the ever-blessed and most pure Mother of our God.  More honorable than the Cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, who as a Virgin gave birth to the Word of God (Christ), true Theotokos we magnify you.

I think the prayer says it all.  That's how we should remember Mary, read each word and each sentence slowly and think about how much that hymn says.  It is beautiful.   We sing it each Divine Liturgy.  Since we pray what we believe we can say that as Orthodox Christians this is what we should believe and how we should respect and honour Mary.  And this is a hymn sang directly after the Epiclesis.  That is right after the priest calls the holy spirit down upon the Heavenly gifts, the Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  Then he takes the censor and says, "Especially for our most ever-holy ever-pure ever-blessed and glorious Lady the Theotokos and ever Virgin Mary"  then the hymn above is sang.  This prayer show how much we love and respect and honour Mary, the Mother of our God as Orthodox Christians. 
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« Reply #23 on: August 16, 2008, 12:22:13 AM »

Very Rev. John Breck from the OCA wrote an article explaining the Dormition/Ascension of the Theotokos and discusses how the Catholicism has raised the Theotokos to a Divinity "that effectively erases the crucial and absolute distinction between human and divine life."  The end of the article is quoted below:

Quote
.... They, like her, will be raised in Him and exalted to the same glory to which He raised and transformed their fallen human nature. She is thus a forerunner of their salvation, a prophetic image of the glorified life that awaits all those who bear Christ in the inner depths of their being, as she bore Him within the depths of her womb.

Yet she is more than this. She is not only a model of the common destiny of Christian people. She also accompanies them at every step of their journey, offering them - offering us - her incessant prayer and love. In her falling asleep and in her exaltation to heaven, she "did not forsake the world," but remains, as the liturgical hymns of the feast proclaim, the Mother of Life, who is "constant in prayer" and "our firm hope," who by her prayers "delivers our souls from death!"

Dormition or Assumption?

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« Reply #24 on: August 17, 2008, 04:56:42 AM »

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As far as I know, the Orthodox universally believe that the Most Holy Theotokos was the best, the most perfect human who ever lived.

How can She be considered the most perfect human being if she carried the...er..."something or other" of original sin? Huh
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« Reply #25 on: August 17, 2008, 06:55:29 AM »

How can She be considered the most perfect human being if she carried the...er..."something or other" of original sin? Huh

Who exactly are you quoting, I'd help but I don't have time to read every post in the thread to find this sentence below that you quoted.  When you did it you didn't put the person's name into the quote. 
If it was from the Roman Catholic point-of-view disregard it as this is an Eastern Orthodox message board.  This is the Faith Issues forum on an Eastern Orthodox forum.  What I am saying is that you asked this question in the first place to Eastern Orthodox Christians not Roman Catholics.  So if this came from one of them and you want to know more about it well, I would go to a Roman Catholic message board to find the answer. 
So who exactly are you quoting?
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« Reply #26 on: August 17, 2008, 07:41:53 AM »

How can She be considered the most perfect human being if she carried the...er..."something or other" of original sin? Huh

Myrrh,

What do you mean by "something or other" of original sin?
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« Reply #27 on: August 17, 2008, 06:52:57 PM »

from Username:
Quote
Who exactly are you quoting, I'd help but I don't have time to read every post in the thread to find this sentence below that you quoted.  When you did it you didn't put the person's name into the quote.

Sorry. I was quoting Heorhij.

From Riddikulus:
Quote
What do you mean by "something or other" of original sin?

From a RC background, I would have put "stain", but I'm not sure what to put since it's OC. As far as I've learned, OC believes that we don't carry a stain, but a tendency to sin?
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« Reply #28 on: August 17, 2008, 07:48:37 PM »

Who exactly are you quoting, I'd help but I don't have time to read every post in the thread to find this sentence below that you quoted.  When you did it you didn't put the person's name into the quote. 
Myrrh, clicking the "quote" link above the post you want to quote (as opposed to just typing [ quote ][ /quote ]) will keep the quoted poster's name attached to the quote so others can see whom you are quoting.
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