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Author Topic: "Most Holy Theotokos, save us!"  (Read 6754 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: September 18, 2009, 01:47:01 AM »

I need some help understanding this phrase. It makes me a little wary, because it seems kind of off speaking of anyone but God as involved in saving us.

I expect there may be a legitimate explanation of an orthodox meaning, though.

Does anyone here know?
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« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2009, 02:09:01 AM »

Yes.  I can paraphrase, as best I can recall, what we were taught by Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh, many years ago, when a former chanter of ours was chanting "Most Holy Theotokos, 'Intercede' for us."

He explained that it is a traditional liturgical practice that we ask her to save us, even thought we know our theology teaches that only Christ can save us and we know when we ask her to save, we are asking for her intercession to save us.  If we were to liturgically ask her to "intercede," we draw attention to a practice that appears that we have a deficient tradition which we know is pure and not deficient. 

If I have erred in this reply, the error is due to my lack of retention of what His Eminence had taught years ago; it cannot be an error in his teaching.
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« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2009, 02:18:55 AM »

See reply 61, below:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,21890.msg337683.html#msg337683

I seem to recall it's been discussed elsewhere, but I can't recall where.
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« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2009, 03:10:49 AM »

Think of it as:

save = rescue, assist, help

We ask her to rescue us through her powerful prayers, not to give us the fullness of salvation and deification through her specially endowed powers.

But the simple fact is that Orthodox laity on the practical level do not make sharp theological distinctions, carefully only asking for the prayers of the saints of God.

They ask their patron or the Theotokos to act directly in their lives: to heal them, to protect them, et cetera.  This bothered me until I remembered that these servants of God are deified.  They are feasting upon the banquet of His energies, so anytime that they act 'directly' in our lives, this is only by the grace and power of God working through them.  They become active conduits of God's grace.
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« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2009, 05:17:54 AM »

Think of it as:

save = rescue, assist, help

We ask her to rescue us through her powerful prayers, not to give us the fullness of salvation and deification through her specially endowed powers.

But the simple fact is that Orthodox laity on the practical level do not make sharp theological distinctions, carefully only asking for the prayers of the saints of God.

They ask their patron or the Theotokos to act directly in their lives: to heal them, to protect them, et cetera.  This bothered me until I remembered that these servants of God are deified.  They are feasting upon the banquet of His energies, so anytime that they act 'directly' in our lives, this is only by the grace and power of God working through them.  They become active conduits of God's grace.

Is this the same meaning of the phrase "save us" in  "Help us; save us; have mercy on us; and keep us, O God, by thy grace."? Or is this referring to salvation of our soul here?


To the OP, a similar usage of this type of "save" is used in Romans 11:14:

"I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them."

Obviously Paul is not saying that he himself will save their souls. He is simply referring to keeping them from error or from falling along their spiritual journey by his guidance and direction. This is the proper meaning of "Most Holy Theotokos, save us!"
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« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2009, 06:07:00 AM »

For some reason I can't edit my other post anymore.  Other verses that illustrates this concept of "saving" are James 5:20, Luke 9:24, Jude 1:23, 1 Corinthians 7:16, and Proverbs 23:14,  just to name a few.  Hopefully this clears it up a bit.
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« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2009, 09:15:11 AM »

Yes.  I can paraphrase, as best I can recall, what we were taught by Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh, many years ago, when a former chanter of ours was chanting "Most Holy Theotokos, 'Intercede' for us."

He explained that it is a traditional liturgical practice that we ask her to save us, even thought we know our theology teaches that only Christ can save us and we know when we ask her to save, we are asking for her intercession to save us.  If we were to liturgically ask her to "intercede," we draw attention to a practice that appears that we have a deficient tradition which we know is pure and not deficient. 

If I have erred in this reply, the error is due to my lack of retention of what His Eminence had taught years ago; it cannot be an error in his teaching.

"Most holy Theotokos intercede for us" really grates on my ears for that very reason - it makes it sound like the tradition to say "save us" is somehow wrong. 
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« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2009, 09:54:08 AM »

I've heard many explanations for this, all pretty much the same... One explained like this:

Imagine someone were on the side of the road and had been bitten by a snake (though you aren't sure if it's poisonous or not) in the middle of  nowhere. You drive by, stop and the person asks for you to "save them" because they are afraid they will die without medical attention.
You accept their plea and take them to the nearest hospital where they discover the snake was poisonous and the proper antidote is given. The doctor comes out and thanks you, telling you that you saved the person's life.

Also think about if you were drowning and you could not swim... You would probably shout for help, asking others to "save you". Is this wrong?

In a similar way we are asking for the Theotokos to save us. Only Christ can save our souls and give us salvation. However, we can still save each other in important (yet not the same) ways.

"To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some."
- St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:22
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« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2009, 12:56:49 PM »

St. Paul, I believe, also says that a husband may save his wife and a wife her husband because of faith.  We don't vituperate Paul for using the word save (which is the same that we use when we ask both Christ and the Theotokos to save us) so why should we be apprehensive when we apply this to the Theotokos? 
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« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2009, 06:51:07 PM »

Thanks for the responses so far! I think this is making more sense to me now.
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« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2009, 04:03:46 PM »

Having been a Protestant for many years, I imagine part of our "hang up" with this phrase is our view of the word "save." I believe someone above mentioned her "assisting" us, which is a great point. Bottom line is, Christ is our salvation and the Orthodox surely know this!  angel
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« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2009, 04:26:38 PM »

Assist us in our Salvation , anyway i think Mary can save us trough Jesus Christ.After Most Holy Theotokos, save us , we say:"And let us give all our lives to Christ the Lord... To Thee oh Lord!".Mary has a place and a role into our Salvation , She was the Mother of Jesus and She is the Bride of God.Ephrem the Syrian says beautiful:" Jesus Christ,the Son of the Father is the Son of Mary".
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« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2009, 04:29:55 PM »

As St Irenaeus says, Mary is the "new Eve." The first Eve led Adam into sin and death for all creation, but the second and new Eve prays to her Son for our salvation, Who is the second and greater Adam.
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« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2009, 04:39:59 PM »

Mary is the advocate of Eve, the cause of our Salvation and the defender of the human race.
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« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2009, 06:55:43 PM »

Assist us in our Salvation , anyway i think Mary can save us trough Jesus Christ.

This sounds closer to a co-redemptrix role to me.   
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« Reply #15 on: September 20, 2009, 07:25:26 PM »

Perhaps someone here can elaborate on the Greek word for "save" used in these prayers? This should help clear up some misconceptions of non-Orthodox Christians, eg: Byzantine exaltation of Mary into a goddess.
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« Reply #16 on: September 20, 2009, 09:53:48 PM »

It sounds like some of the people in that forum are deliberately misunderstanding what the EO's mean in their prayers.  I'm not sure that the leadership of the ACE would be that uncharitable, or as Protestant-sounding as those individuals.

Neither the EO's, nor OO's, nor even the Catholics have made the Mother of God into a goddess.  If people are going to deliberately misconstrue what we mean in our prayers, that is their business.  We're not going to change how we address her in order to please some Protestants or some individuals in the ACE.
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« Reply #17 on: September 21, 2009, 12:45:52 AM »

This might be kind of off topic, but along the same vein.  What does "more spacious than the heavens" mean in relation to the Platytera Theotokos icon?
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« Reply #18 on: September 21, 2009, 12:53:26 AM »

All of heaven cannot contain Christ our God, and yet for nine months He was contained in the womb of His mother.
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« Reply #19 on: September 21, 2009, 12:57:42 AM »

This might be kind of off topic, but along the same vein.  What does "more spacious than the heavens" mean in relation to the Platytera Theotokos icon?

A fantastic question, and one that strikes at the heart of the matter.

The Theotokos received a privilege beyond that of any other human at any time in human history.  She received a greater honor than any of the great prophets of old or any of the apostles who walked and talked with the Lord.  She was allowed to carry the fullness of God within her womb.

This is a true miracle beyond comprehension, as we know that all of the created world is not enough to contain the fullness of the glory of God.  He is present everywhere and filling everything, but He is not contained within any of it.  And yet the mystery is this: that God allowed His fullness to be contained within the womb of a woman, when the heavens themselves were not spacious enough to contain His majesty.

Therefore, she is more spacious than the heavens.  Likewise, she is more honorable that the cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim for the same reason.  For who among the angels was given the honor of containing God within themselves?

This is why the Mother of God is also seen as an image of the Holy of Holies.
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« Reply #20 on: September 21, 2009, 01:24:26 AM »

REPLY to #15, Nazarene, The Greek word for "Save" is "Soson." Save is an accurate translation into English.

REPLY to #19, Alveus Lacuna, Your post is the best explanation of "Wider than the Heavens" I've ever seen and I've been looking around for inclusion in a "Tour of [my] Church" I'm preparing to publish very shortly. Thank you.

Near the end of this "Tour..." I have recommended "oc.net" for "Further Reading" as an exceptionally vast resource of information on the Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #21 on: September 21, 2009, 02:06:30 PM »

Assist us in our Salvation , anyway i think Mary can save us trough Jesus Christ.

This sounds closer to a co-redemptrix role to me.   


“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel [Genesis 3:14-15].’”

"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. [Genesis 3:15]"

Two other women called blessed among all women and predicted to be praised by all generation, Jahel and Judith, both by the power of God strike at the head of the chief enemy.

Judges 4:9“Very well,” Deborah said, “I will go with you. But because of the way you are going about this,b the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will hand Sisera over to a woman.”

Judges 5:24 Blessed among women be Jahel the wife of Haber the Cinite, and blessed be she in her tent. 25 He asked her water and she gave him milk, and offered him butter in a dish fit for princes. 26 She put her left hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workman's hammer, and she struck Sisara, seeking in his head a place for the wound, and strongly piercing through his temples.

Judith 13:17 Judith said: Praise ye the Lord our God, who hath not forsaken them that hope in him. 18 And by me his handmaid he hath fulfilled his mercy, which he promised to the house of Israel: and he hath killed the enemy of his people by my hand this night. 19 Then she brought forth the head of Holofernes out of the wallet, and shewed it them, saying: Behold the head of Holofernes the general of the army of the Assyrians, and behold his canopy, wherein he lay in his drunkenness, where the Lord our God slew him by the hand of a woman. 20 But as the same Lord liveth, his angel hath been my keeper both going hence, and abiding there, and returning from thence hither: and the Lord hath not suffered me his handmaid to be defiled, but hath brought me back to you without pollution of sin, rejoicing for his victory, for my escape, and for your deliverance. 21 Give all of you glory to him, because he is good, because his mercy endureth for ever. 22 And they all adored the Lord, and said to her: The Lord hath blessed thee by his power, because by thee he hath brought our enemies to nought. 23 And Ozias the prince of the people of Israel, said to her: Blessed art thou, O daughter, by the Lord the most high God, above all women upon the earth. 24 Blessed be the Lord who made heaven and earth, who hath directed thee to the cutting off the head of the prince of our enemies. 25 Because he hath so magnified thy name this day, that thy praise shall not depart out of the mouth of men who shall be mindful of the power of the Lord for ever, for that thou hast not spared thy life, by reason of the distress and tribulation of thy people, but hast prevented our ruin in the presence of our God. 26 And all the people said: So be it, so be it.

How much more than , the Mother of God, trough whom the head of the serpant is crushed, by the offspring of the women(Jesus)?
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« Reply #22 on: September 21, 2009, 08:05:32 PM »

I think we have to draw the line somewhere. The only One who has saved, is saving, and will save our souls is Jesus Christ. Only One died on the cross for our salvation.
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« Reply #23 on: September 21, 2009, 08:34:03 PM »

^I think that's a reductionist way of looking at it.

If we ourselves have a role in our own salvation, then why not the Saints? When we repent, we do in a sense work towards our own salvation. When a Saint intercedes on our behalf with the effect of drawing God's Grace to us in a way that saves us from temptation, that Saint in a sense works towards our salvation. Similarly if the relic of a Saint should permit us a unique burst of Grace that enlightens us to Truth in a way that allows us to pursue a direction in life, or make a decision that is conducive to our salvation. Needless to say, all such acts are empowered by the Grace of God; they operate within the context of synergy with that Grace.

With respect to the Theotokos in particular, her unique position amongst the Saints renders her most effective in this regard. A short while ago I wrote a piece on an Oriental Orthodox Saint's contemplation on the prophetic role of the Holy Theotokos. He explained how at the Wedding at Cana, the Theotokos and the Lord Christ were actually operating in unison and harmony for the sake of the salvation of those present. The Lord Christ had a plan, and the Theotokos was able to prophetically conceive of and assist enact that plan. She continues operating in that prophetic capacity till this very day. I'm going to quit linking people to my material lest I should be misinterpreted, but should anyone be interested in reading my article feel free to PM me.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us!
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« Reply #24 on: September 21, 2009, 08:48:05 PM »

"There is an indirect or unequal but important participation by the Blessed Virgin Mary in redemption. She gave free consent to give life to the redeemer, to share his life, to suffer with him under the cross and to sacrifice him for the sake of the redemption of humankind."

"Mary gave birth to the redeemer, who is the fountain of all grace. Therefore she participated in the mediating of grace. A second opinion states that Mary, assumed into heaven, participates in the mediating of divine graces of her son."

Are these statements in line with Orthodox belief?
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« Reply #25 on: September 21, 2009, 09:20:45 PM »

I need some help understanding this phrase. It makes me a little wary, because it seems kind of off speaking of anyone but God as involved in saving us.

I expect there may be a legitimate explanation of an orthodox meaning, though.

Does anyone here know?

1Timothy 4:16

Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
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« Reply #26 on: September 22, 2009, 01:18:18 AM »

I think we have to draw the line somewhere. The only One who has saved, is saving, and will save our souls is Jesus Christ. Only One died on the cross for our salvation.
But we are not saved alone.  We are saved as a community, a community that includes all the saints from ages past and ages future.  In some way, our veneration of the Theotokos and prayers to her recognize this communal foundation of our faith.  In no small way, Mary is truly the mother of the Church.
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« Reply #27 on: September 22, 2009, 02:20:32 AM »

^I think that's a reductionist way of looking at it.

If we ourselves have a role in our own salvation, then why not the Saints? When we repent, we do in a sense work towards our own salvation. When a Saint intercedes on our behalf with the effect of drawing God's Grace to us in a way that saves us from temptation, that Saint in a sense works towards our salvation. Similarly if the relic of a Saint should permit us a unique burst of Grace that enlightens us to Truth in a way that allows us to pursue a direction in life, or make a decision that is conducive to our salvation. Needless to say, all such acts are empowered by the Grace of God; they operate within the context of synergy with that Grace.

With respect to the Theotokos in particular, her unique position amongst the Saints renders her most effective in this regard. A short while ago I wrote a piece on an Oriental Orthodox Saint's contemplation on the prophetic role of the Holy Theotokos. He explained how at the Wedding at Cana, the Theotokos and the Lord Christ were actually operating in unison and harmony for the sake of the salvation of those present. The Lord Christ had a plan, and the Theotokos was able to prophetically conceive of and assist enact that plan. She continues operating in that prophetic capacity till this very day. I'm going to quit linking people to my material lest I should be misinterpreted, but should anyone be interested in reading my article feel free to PM me.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us!

I'm linking the article because I think it's relevant and it will do people good to read it:


http://www.erkohet.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=83:mysticalprophetess&catid=45:smnunewtestament&Itemid=18
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« Reply #28 on: September 22, 2009, 02:24:58 AM »

Something else which is relevant is the prayer to the Mother of God by the Armenian Catholicos, Simeon Yerevantsi:

http://www.erkohet.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=127:aprayertothetheotokos&catid=29:mnuprayers&Itemid=22
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« Reply #29 on: September 22, 2009, 03:58:28 AM »

“The various forms of piety towards the Mother of God, which the Church has approved within the limits of sound and orthodox doctrine, according to the dispositions and understanding of the faithful, ensure that while the mother is honored, the Son through whom all things have their being Col 1:15-16 and in whom it has pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell Col 1:19 is rightly known, loved and glorified and his commandments are observed.”

There are three levels of reverence that we in this life offer. Latria is reserved for God alone. Hyperdulia is reserved for the Blessed Virgin. Dulia is reserved for all the rest of the heavenly host.

Dulia - The kind and degree of honor or veneration given to angels and saints. From the Greek root meaning "slavery" or, more broadly, "respect." Dulia is governed by ecclesiastical authority, and distinguished from hyperdulia and latria.

Hyperdulia - As its Greek roots suggest, hyperdulia is above and beyond the dulia. Hyperdulia, or extended praise, is reserved to Our Lady alone because of her role in salvation history.

Latria - This term is derived from a Greek root meaning "service," but in Christian thought, latria has come to denote specifically that kind and degree of praise which is reserved for God alone.
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« Reply #30 on: September 22, 2009, 04:36:23 AM »

“The various forms of piety towards the Mother of God, which the Church has approved within the limits of sound and orthodox doctrine, according to the dispositions and understanding of the faithful, ensure that while the mother is honored, the Son through whom all things have their being Col 1:15-16 and in whom it has pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell Col 1:19 is rightly known, loved and glorified and his commandments are observed.”

There are three levels of reverence that we in this life offer. Latria is reserved for God alone. Hyperdulia is reserved for the Blessed Virgin. Dulia is reserved for all the rest of the heavenly host.

Dulia - The kind and degree of honor or veneration given to angels and saints. From the Greek root meaning "slavery" or, more broadly, "respect." Dulia is governed by ecclesiastical authority, and distinguished from hyperdulia and latria.

Hyperdulia - As its Greek roots suggest, hyperdulia is above and beyond the dulia. Hyperdulia, or extended praise, is reserved to Our Lady alone because of her role in salvation history.

Latria - This term is derived from a Greek root meaning "service," but in Christian thought, latria has come to denote specifically that kind and degree of praise which is reserved for God alone.

Would you please provide the urls for these quotes.
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« Reply #31 on: September 22, 2009, 04:38:29 AM »

http://somanydevotions.blogspot.com/2007/06/spotlight-on-words-dulia-hyperdulia-and.html

http://www.secondexodus.com/html/catholicdefinitions/hyperdulia.htm
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« Reply #32 on: September 22, 2009, 05:20:22 AM »

^^ I'm wondering why you have provided Roman Catholic definitions regarding devotion to the Theotokos on a thread in Faith Issues, which is for discussion of issues and inquiries related to the Orthodox Christian faith. Perhaps you have a reason for this?
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« Reply #33 on: September 22, 2009, 05:46:40 AM »

the orthodox is the same; it`s because i did not find an orthodox source online;
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« Reply #34 on: September 22, 2009, 05:35:46 PM »

"There is an indirect or unequal but important participation by the Blessed Virgin Mary in redemption. She gave free consent to give life to the redeemer, to share his life, to suffer with him under the cross and to sacrifice him for the sake of the redemption of humankind."

"Mary gave birth to the redeemer, who is the fountain of all grace. Therefore she participated in the mediating of grace. A second opinion states that Mary, assumed into heaven, participates in the mediating of divine graces of her son."

Are these statements in line with Orthodox belief?

No one cares to address these statements?
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« Reply #35 on: September 22, 2009, 09:04:28 PM »

"There is an indirect or unequal but important participation by the Blessed Virgin Mary in redemption. She gave free consent to give life to the redeemer, to share his life, to suffer with him under the cross and to sacrifice him for the sake of the redemption of humankind."

"Mary gave birth to the redeemer, who is the fountain of all grace. Therefore she participated in the mediating of grace. A second opinion states that Mary, assumed into heaven, participates in the mediating of divine graces of her son."

Are these statements in line with Orthodox belief?


No one cares to address these statements?

Can you give us a source for them?
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« Reply #36 on: September 22, 2009, 10:18:23 PM »

"There is an indirect or unequal but important participation by the Blessed Virgin Mary in redemption. She gave free consent to give life to the redeemer, to share his life, to suffer with him under the cross and to sacrifice him for the sake of the redemption of humankind."

"Mary gave birth to the redeemer, who is the fountain of all grace. Therefore she participated in the mediating of grace. A second opinion states that Mary, assumed into heaven, participates in the mediating of divine graces of her son."

Are these statements in line with Orthodox belief?



No one cares to address these statements?

Can you give us a source for them?

These are the wikipedia definitions of Mary's role as a co-redemptrix and mediatrix, respectively.  Can someone tell me what part of these statements Orthodox do not subsribe to specifically?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Co-Redemptrix

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediatrix
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« Reply #37 on: September 22, 2009, 10:33:44 PM »

Those are articles about the Catholic veneration of St. Mary.  You need to be careful about attributing Catholic language and beliefs about the Mother of God to the Orthodox.  Even where our language may be similar, we may mean different things. 

These two threads may be helpful to you:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13075.0.html

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,15799.0.html

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« Reply #38 on: September 22, 2009, 11:06:51 PM »

No matter what, the prayers (e.g. Akathist), DO ask Mary to save us, and we are calling ourselves her servants, we have no other hope, etc.  We can say, oh, it doesn't really mean that, the intention is only to venerate, but, how can we blame non-Orthordox who would see these prayers and think otherwise? Jesus taught us to pray and that was to God. I completely honor and respect Mary and the lessons she gave us of following God's will so perfectly. But, something about praying in the way I'm 'supposed' to as an Orthodox, at times, does not feel right to me. I actually think Mary would cringe at some of it because she was so humble. Yes, I know I am a heretic, heterodox, apostate, etc, no one has to point that out, thanks. Wink  God is the best judge. I just think giving so much focus to others besides our God can have the effect of pushing him out of the focus. Yes the prayers are poetic and beautful and it is easy to cross a line. It really is. 
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« Reply #39 on: September 22, 2009, 11:18:17 PM »

No matter what, the prayers (e.g. Akathist), DO ask Mary to save us, and we are calling ourselves her servants, we have no other hope, etc.  We can say, oh, it doesn't really mean that, the intention is only to venerate, but, how can we blame non-Orthordox who would see these prayers and think otherwise? Jesus taught us to pray and that was to God. I completely honor and respect Mary and the lessons she gave us of following God's will so perfectly. But, something about praying in the way I'm 'supposed' to as an Orthodox, at times, does not feel right to me. I actually think Mary would cringe at some of it because she was so humble. Yes, I know I am a heretic, heterodox, apostate, etc, no one has to point that out, thanks. Wink  God is the best judge. I just think giving so much focus to others besides our God can have the effect of pushing him out of the focus. Yes the prayers are poetic and beautful and it is easy to cross a line. It really is. 

The veneration of the Mother of God brings us closer to her Son.  Think about her words at the Wedding of Cana.  She told the guys with the water jugs to do as her Son says.  That's what her veneration is all about.  We don't venerate her, or any other saints, for their own sake.  Being closer to certain Christians makes one feel closer to God.  The Mother of God is no exception, and since she was the closest one to Christ, she is best able to draw us to Him.

For an example, see my reply 35 in this thread:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,6917.msg95866.html#msg95866
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« Reply #40 on: September 23, 2009, 02:40:43 AM »

Yes the prayers are poetic and beautful and it is easy to cross a line. It really is. 

This is what i've been trying to determine. It is certainly a very gray area, but there is a line nonetheless.  How will we know if we have crossed such a line? We insist that the Supplicatory Canon is veneration and not worship, but what are the distinguishing words or characteristics that seperate the two from one another?
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« Reply #41 on: September 23, 2009, 05:00:02 AM »

If you look at the whole Supplicatory Canon, or the Akathist to the Mother of God, or the liturgical text for the Vigil of any of the feasts of the Mother of God, the Virgin is indeed extolled with high praise, yet, time and again in these services, one is never allowed to forget that it is because of Christ's incarnation that we venerate His mother so highly. This balance of exalting the Mother of God and being drawn to Christ is quite clear when looking at these texts as a whole. This balance cannot be seen if bits and pieces are picked out.
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« Reply #42 on: September 23, 2009, 08:12:11 PM »

Those are articles about the Catholic veneration of St. Mary.  You need to be careful about attributing Catholic language and beliefs about the Mother of God to the Orthodox.  Even where our language may be similar, we may mean different things. 

These two threads may be helpful to you:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13075.0.html

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,15799.0.html



The more that I read these threads, the more I discovered how similar the teachings of Co-Redemptrix of Mediatrix are to Orthodox teaching on the matter. Is this merely a case of "Romophobia" where we are  denouncing a term because of it's apparent Latin origin, even if we agree with it in principle?
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« Reply #43 on: September 23, 2009, 09:44:26 PM »

Those are articles about the Catholic veneration of St. Mary.  You need to be careful about attributing Catholic language and beliefs about the Mother of God to the Orthodox.  Even where our language may be similar, we may mean different things. 

These two threads may be helpful to you:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13075.0.html

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,15799.0.html



The more that I read these threads, the more I discovered how similar the teachings of Co-Redemptrix of Mediatrix are to Orthodox teaching on the matter. Is this merely a case of "Romophobia" where we are  denouncing a term because of it's apparent Latin origin, even if we agree with it in principle?

Your suspicion of Romophobia runs deeper than you think. Here is a tangent I went on in another thread to explain how Prostestant reaction to Catholic teachings regarding the Theotokos and the saints has corrupted the very meaning of the word "worship" - and why it is even worse for you as an American. I've had this on my computer for a while, so I'm not sure where I got the information from; just reading bits and pieces, I suppose. The point is, I can't give references. And don't forget that my intention is not to criticise Protestants or Americans for this unfortunate evolution in the English language, but am simply stating a case for a broader understanding of something that has been forgotten in colloquial usage. I don't think it's a trend that can be reversed, but understanding some of the history might help the individual. I hope it's helpful. If it's not..... what can I say?  angel 

Quote
It's like one of the recent podcasts on Our Life In Christ... A guy contacted them saying the Orthodox worship Mary because a "western" dictionary says they do by definition... It just does not make any sense and is illogical.

Tangent alert!!

By definition it's completely logical. "Worship" is a Western word. It's English. Interestingly, Wycliffe, in his translation of scripture into the English of the pre-Reformation 1300s quotes; "Worschipe thi fadir and thi modir" (Mark 7.10). Today, this verse is translated as "honour your father and mother".

The guy you refer to, though no doubt confused, is actually correct. In the absolute and true sense of the word "worship", we Orthodox do worship Mary. The etymological origin and literal meaning of the English word “worship” is; wur’-ship (Anglo-Saxon: weorthscipe, wyrthscype, "honor," from weorth, wurth, "worthy," "honorable," and scipe, "ship" - in other words "conferring honour to those who are worthy of receiving it"). It's not an exclusively religious word (as seen in the examples of its use below) and it traditionally includes several definitions and applications with regard to conferring honour – including adoration. Whilst, theologically speaking adoration is the highest mode of conferring honour and is offered to God alone, it is still a definition of “worship”.   

During the English Reformation, certain Christian communities under influences from Europe began to reject the worship of the Mother of God, along with that of the saints, angels, icons and relics. In many places there were widespread outbreaks of iconoclasm. Sacred images which had been worshipped for centuries by devout Christians came to be seen, by the Reformers, as idols. The English Reformers, emulating their European counterparts, argued the same biblical texts to justify their beliefs as the Eastern iconoclasts had done back in the early centuries of Christian history; so it isn’t unexpected that these items came to be treated as abominations and destroyed. Communities which resisted the Reformation often hid their sacred images, and restored them to use when the opportunity arose. This was the case during the brief reign of Mary Tudor in England.

The English Reformation’s rejection of the worship of the Mother of God, saints, angels, icons and relics, had an odd consequence for the emerging Protestant usage of the English language. Since Protestants mistakenly assumed that God was the sole object of Christian worship, the word gradually began to be restricted in meaning and finally became treated solely as a synonym for "adore."

The English word "adoration" correctly translates from the Greek word "latreia" or the Latin "adoratio" or "adoratio latriae". Now, there can be no doubt that this is the utmost mode of worship; due to God and to God alone. Adoration as a mode of the utmost form of worship springs from the Christian’s acknowledgement of our absolute dependency on God as created beings. But let’s not forget that “adoration” is still a mode of worship; still a definition of "worship".

The English Reformation’s rejection of the worship of the saints, their relics and sacred images left no other definition of worship except for “adoration” in the Protestant mindset. Unfortunately, no distinction was made by Protestants between adoration and the other lesser, relative modes of worship, since none of them had survived in their religious practice.

Nonetheless, despite this manipulation of the English word, the older, broader concept of "worship" still survives to some degree in England. A mayor of a city is referred to as "your Worship," and, of course, this is completely without any suggestion that anyone is acknowledging that person as the Creator of the Universe. In the older version of the Anglican Marriage service the bride and bridegroom exchange rings, saying “with this ring, I thee wed, with my body I thee worship,". As we said these words, neither my husband nor myself were the slightest bit confused that either of us was acknowledging the other as Almighty God. 

Unfortunately, this useage hasn't continued with you, our American neighbours. You seem to have managed to completely obliterate the broader meaning of the English “worship”, and made it a word that can now only to be used in connection with God. How far you have succeeded in this linguistic manipulation is evident with the Episcopalians who, from what I understand, have completely removed the line “with my body, I thee worship” from the marriage vows in the Common Book of Prayer. Perhaps if this phrase had remained within the Episcopalian movement, you might have retained a broader understanding of the English word “worship”, and not fallen into the Protestant trap. Often I see someone deny our worship of the Mother of God, the saints and relics, with the insistance that we merely venerate” Her. Of course, this completely misses the point, for veneration is simply a definition of the word "worship".

Examples of usage.   

In Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) we find; Worship \Wor"ship\, n. [OE. worshipe, wur[eth]scipe, AS. weor[eth]scipe; weor[eth] worth + -scipe -ship…
     
     1. Excellence of character; dignity; worth; worthiness. [Obs.] (Shakespeare)
              A man of worship and honour. (Chaucer)
 
              Elfin, born of noble state, And muckle worship in his native land.  (Spenser)
 
     2. Honour; respect; civil deference. [Obs.]
 
              Of which great worth and worship may be won. (Spenser)                                             
 
              Then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat
    With thee. (Luke 14:10). (*King James Version)
                                           
     3. Hence, a title of honour, used in addresses to certain magistrates and others of
         rank or station.
 
              My father desires your worships' company. (Shakespeare)
 
     4. The act of paying divine honours to the Supreme Being; religious reverence and
         homage; adoration, or acts of reverence, paid to God, or a being viewed as God.
   
   “God with idols in their worship joined.'' (Milton)
 
              The worship of God is an eminent part of religion, and prayer is a chief part
              of religious worship. (Tillotson)
 
     5. Obsequious or submissive respect; extravagant admiration; adoration.
 
              'T is your inky brows, your black silk hair, Your bugle eyeballs, nor your
               cheek of cream, That can my spirits to your worship. (Shakespeare)
 
     6. An object of worship.
 
              In attitude and aspect formed to be at once the artist's worship and despair.
   (Longfellow)
 
Tangent ended.   



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« Reply #44 on: September 24, 2009, 03:46:21 AM »

Those are articles about the Catholic veneration of St. Mary.  You need to be careful about attributing Catholic language and beliefs about the Mother of God to the Orthodox.  Even where our language may be similar, we may mean different things. 

These two threads may be helpful to you:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13075.0.html

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,15799.0.html



The more that I read these threads, the more I discovered how similar the teachings of Co-Redemptrix of Mediatrix are to Orthodox teaching on the matter. Is this merely a case of "Romophobia" where we are  denouncing a term because of it's apparent Latin origin, even if we agree with it in principle?

I`d say yes.
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« Reply #45 on: September 24, 2009, 10:45:03 AM »

Assist us in our Salvation , anyway i think Mary can save us trough Jesus Christ.

This sounds closer to a co-redemptrix role to me.   

I wonder how many people know that the title "co-redemptrix" is not a dogmatic title in the Catholic Church. I wonder how many people know what theologians in the west even mean by the title "co-redemtrix".
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« Reply #46 on: September 24, 2009, 11:34:38 AM »

I scanned this link yesterday. The author is a traditional Catholic who has taken aim, not at the title "co-redemtrix", but rather, those who are promoting it. He narrows it down to what he thinks it should mean, and what it does not mean.
http://www.catholicplanet.com/CMA/contra-vox-populi.htm

There's a couple more essays here, but my favourite is the one entitled "13 reasons to delay" where he takes aim at Vox Populi, Mark Miravelle and a questionable (i.e. fraudulent) Marian apparition.
http://www.catholicplanet.com/CMA/

( "Vox Populi" was cited in one of the earlier OC.net threads. )
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« Reply #47 on: September 25, 2009, 01:28:25 AM »

I just think giving so much focus to others besides our God can have the effect of pushing him out of the focus. Yes the prayers are poetic and beautiful and it is easy to cross a line.  It really is.

Are we pushing the line with the Holy Trinity?  Muslims and Jews seem to think so.  There's a fine line between monotheism and polytheism, and it would be really easy for a person to 'accidentally' form a misconception about the nature of the Godhead and to cross that line you're so worried about.

The fact of the matter is that no one can 'accidentally' give the exclusive worship and adoration due to God alone to anyone or anything else.  That level or reverence and service is fully deliberate.  It is simply going to take you some time to get comfortable with the more subtle distinctions in Orthodoxy.  Different levels of honor are due to different manifestations of God's glory.

The English word "adoration" correctly translates from the Greek word "latreia" or the Latin "adoratio" or "adoratio latriae". Now, there can be no doubt that this is the utmost mode of worship; due to God and to God alone. Adoration as a mode of the utmost form of worship springs from the Christian’s acknowledgement of our absolute dependency on God as created beings. But let’s not forget that “adoration” is still a mode of worship; still a definition of "worship".

But how are we meant to linguistically express the highest form of honor paid to God alone?  Like it or not, worship in current American English usage best conveys this concept to what is due to God alone.  It would be perfectly acceptable for me to say that I adore the Virgin Mary in current English usage; this would not cause scandal to the faithful.  So what do you propose be alternatively used to convey the prohibition of the "latreia" of anyone beside the Lord?
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« Reply #48 on: September 25, 2009, 01:42:29 AM »

I just think giving so much focus to others besides our God can have the effect of pushing him out of the focus. Yes the prayers are poetic and beautiful and it is easy to cross a line.  It really is.

Are we pushing the line with the Holy Trinity?  Muslims and Jews seem to think so.  There's a fine line between monotheism and polytheism, and it would be really easy for a person to 'accidentally' form a misconception about the nature of the Godhead and to cross that line you're so worried about.

The fact of the matter is that no one can 'accidentally' give the exclusive worship and adoration due to God alone to anyone or anything else.  That level or reverence and service is fully deliberate.  It is simply going to take you some time to get comfortable with the more subtle distinctions in Orthodoxy.  Different levels of honor are due to different manifestations of God's glory.

The English word "adoration" correctly translates from the Greek word "latreia" or the Latin "adoratio" or "adoratio latriae". Now, there can be no doubt that this is the utmost mode of worship; due to God and to God alone. Adoration as a mode of the utmost form of worship springs from the Christian’s acknowledgement of our absolute dependency on God as created beings. But let’s not forget that “adoration” is still a mode of worship; still a definition of "worship".

But how are we meant to linguistically express the highest form of honor paid to God alone?  Like it or not, worship in current American English usage best conveys this concept to what is due to God alone.  It would be perfectly acceptable for me to say that I adore the Virgin Mary in current English usage; this would not cause scandal to the faithful.  So what do you propose be alternatively used to convey the prohibition of the "latreia" of anyone beside the Lord?

I don't really propose anything, I just thought the history surrounding the word "worship" and the misconceptions that we have surrounding it are kind of interesting. I did warn that it was a tangent.  Wink
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« Reply #49 on: September 25, 2009, 01:53:34 AM »

I just think giving so much focus to others besides our God can have the effect of pushing him out of the focus. Yes the prayers are poetic and beautiful and it is easy to cross a line.  It really is.

Are we pushing the line with the Holy Trinity?  Muslims and Jews seem to think so.  There's a fine line between monotheism and polytheism, and it would be really easy for a person to 'accidentally' form a misconception about the nature of the Godhead and to cross that line you're so worried about.

The fact of the matter is that no one can 'accidentally' give the exclusive worship and adoration due to God alone to anyone or anything else.  That level or reverence and service is fully deliberate.  It is simply going to take you some time to get comfortable with the more subtle distinctions in Orthodoxy.  Different levels of honor are due to different manifestations of God's glory.

The English word "adoration" correctly translates from the Greek word "latreia" or the Latin "adoratio" or "adoratio latriae". Now, there can be no doubt that this is the utmost mode of worship; due to God and to God alone. Adoration as a mode of the utmost form of worship springs from the Christian’s acknowledgement of our absolute dependency on God as created beings. But let’s not forget that “adoration” is still a mode of worship; still a definition of "worship".

But how are we meant to linguistically express the highest form of honor paid to God alone?  Like it or not, worship in current American English usage best conveys this concept to what is due to God alone.  It would be perfectly acceptable for me to say that I adore the Virgin Mary in current English usage; this would not cause scandal to the faithful.  So what do you propose be alternatively used to convey the prohibition of the "latreia" of anyone beside the Lord?

The Trinity is doctrinally defined and spelled out clearly in the Church councils. The veneration of Mary isn't.  We don't honestly know how much is acceptable and how much isn't, other than by what we read in the prayers and liturgy of the Church.  Still, the words that we find in such do not tell us the whole story. There is more than enough "ammunition" found in such that if someone desired to engage in Mariolatry, they easily could by reading or singing hymns such as the akathist or the supplicatory canon, and would probably go unnoticed. From what I gather here, it is not the words present in these liturgical texts and prayers, so much as it "the meaning" behind them. The Church doesn't really tell us if we're supposed to really "mean it" when we call Mary the "saviour of our souls" or "our only hope". We don't have disclaimers on top of our prayers and hymns to the Theotokos that say, "The following is contained within the context of  Byzantine poetic exaggeration, flowery language, and hyperbole." As a result, many people, expecially inquirers, end up taking such words as literal. Honestly, can you blame them? Can we reallly tell these people, "Well, we call her our only hope, but of course we don't really mean that!" Well then, what else don't we take literally or consider to be "poetic exaggeration"?  

 Honestly, off the top of my head, I can't think of any specific words or phrases that the Orthodox considered as "off-limits" to use towards any person other than God. I believe this to be a very mis-leading and potentially dangerous practice.
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« Reply #50 on: September 25, 2009, 03:10:21 AM »

Honestly, off the top of my head, I can't think of any specific words or phrases that the Orthodox considered as "off-limits" to use towards any person other than God. I believe this to be a very mis-leading and potentially dangerous practice.

And while it makes perfect sense that you are seeking clarification on many of these issues as a catechumen, does it really seem appropriate for you to be so hyper-critical of the Church that you're seeking to enter at such an early stage?  Shouldn't you be eager to learn from the Church, not to begin pronouncing judgments on her practices?

The most practical advice I can give you is to begin to actually pray these prayers.  I had to do this as a form of self-purification for a time, in order to counteract the resistance I was also getting from my Protestant half (I was raised half Southern Baptist and half Catholic).  I saw the Church bringing healing into every other aspect of my life, but I was openly resisting the Mother of God.  Understanding this is going to take time.

My only passing advice is to pick your battles, because I've already seem a lot of people argue their way right out of Orthodoxy.  Don't let the Virgin Mary being your stumbling block.  If you must, for now just focus on other things and come back to this later. 

Or just ignore me, because I'm probably totally off the mark.   Wink
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« Reply #51 on: September 25, 2009, 03:16:53 AM »

Honestly, off the top of my head, I can't think of any specific words or phrases that the Orthodox considered as "off-limits" to use towards any person other than God. I believe this to be a very mis-leading and potentially dangerous practice.

And while it makes perfect sense that you are seeking clarification on many of these issues as a catechumen, does it really seem appropriate for you to be so hyper-critical of the Church that you're seeking to enter at such an early stage?  Shouldn't you be eager to learn from the Church, not to begin pronouncing judgments on her practices?

The most practical advice I can give you is to begin to actually pray these prayers.  I had to do this as a form of self-purification for a time, in order to counteract the resistance I was also getting from my Protestant half (I was raised half Southern Baptist and half Catholic).  I saw the Church bringing healing into every other aspect of my life, but I was openly resisting the Mother of God.  Understanding this is going to take time.

My only passing advice is to pick your battles, because I've already seem a lot of people argue their way right out of Orthodoxy.  Don't let the Virgin Mary being your stumbling block.  If you must, for now just focus on other things and come back to this later. 

Or just ignore me, because I'm probably totally off the mark.   Wink
No, I think you're right on target with your advice. Wink
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« Reply #52 on: September 25, 2009, 05:15:59 AM »

Honestly, off the top of my head, I can't think of any specific words or phrases that the Orthodox considered as "off-limits" to use towards any person other than God. I believe this to be a very mis-leading and potentially dangerous practice.

And while it makes perfect sense that you are seeking clarification on many of these issues as a catechumen, does it really seem appropriate for you to be so hyper-critical of the Church that you're seeking to enter at such an early stage?  Shouldn't you be eager to learn from the Church, not to begin pronouncing judgments on her practices?

The most practical advice I can give you is to begin to actually pray these prayers.  I had to do this as a form of self-purification for a time, in order to counteract the resistance I was also getting from my Protestant half (I was raised half Southern Baptist and half Catholic).  I saw the Church bringing healing into every other aspect of my life, but I was openly resisting the Mother of God.  Understanding this is going to take time.

My only passing advice is to pick your battles, because I've already seem a lot of people argue their way right out of Orthodoxy.  Don't let the Virgin Mary being your stumbling block.  If you must, for now just focus on other things and come back to this later. 

Or just ignore me, because I'm probably totally off the mark.   Wink

I'm sorry, I've just been really frustrated lately. Aside from this issue, nearly everything else in Orthodoxy seems rock solid and makes perfect sense to me. Honestly, I think Orthodoxy is my last shot. If I convince myself out of this, I doubt there would be any more hope for me as far as Christianity goes, or any religion for that matter. I suppose i'll just try to focus on what I do understand for the time being and give this a rest.
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« Reply #53 on: September 25, 2009, 05:22:56 AM »

Honestly, off the top of my head, I can't think of any specific words or phrases that the Orthodox considered as "off-limits" to use towards any person other than God. I believe this to be a very mis-leading and potentially dangerous practice.

And while it makes perfect sense that you are seeking clarification on many of these issues as a catechumen, does it really seem appropriate for you to be so hyper-critical of the Church that you're seeking to enter at such an early stage?  Shouldn't you be eager to learn from the Church, not to begin pronouncing judgments on her practices?

The most practical advice I can give you is to begin to actually pray these prayers.  I had to do this as a form of self-purification for a time, in order to counteract the resistance I was also getting from my Protestant half (I was raised half Southern Baptist and half Catholic).  I saw the Church bringing healing into every other aspect of my life, but I was openly resisting the Mother of God.  Understanding this is going to take time.

My only passing advice is to pick your battles, because I've already seem a lot of people argue their way right out of Orthodoxy.  Don't let the Virgin Mary being your stumbling block.  If you must, for now just focus on other things and come back to this later. 

Or just ignore me, because I'm probably totally off the mark.   Wink

I'm sorry, I've just been really frustrated lately. Aside from this issue, nearly everything else in Orthodoxy seems rock solid and makes perfect sense to me. Honestly, I think Orthodoxy is my last shot. If I convince myself out of this, I doubt there would be any more hope for me as far as Christianity goes, or any religion for that matter. I suppose i'll just try to focus on what I do understand for the time being and give this a rest.

To be honest with you, I was struggling with issues regarding our veneration of the Theotokos right up to the day before I was to convert; and I have never had a Romophobic bone in my body. I think it's natural to be concerned that one isn't overstepping the line with something that is so foreign to previous experience, but if one trusts the Church, one trusts the Church.  I hope that with God's grace, you are able to overcome this hurdle. I did. Smiley
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« Reply #54 on: September 25, 2009, 08:11:21 AM »

Quote
The Church doesn't really tell us if we're supposed to really "mean it" when we call Mary the "saviour of our souls" or "our only hope".

This must be understood in relationship with Jesus , and in relationship with the Incarnation.Without Mary we would not have the Incarnation, God Himself choose it to be this way , that through a woman and the offspring of the woman to come the Salvation of the world.This is God`s response to Adam , who said : The woman Thou gave me.So the same way the world fell , the same way is restaurated through a woman, the woman becoming the instrument of our Salvation, the chosen vessel.By her birth,the birth of Christ came salvation.

The head is crushed entirely by the Woman and the Man.She(the Woman) has a role in crushing the head of the serpant and represents the Church, the bride of God.Mary is called our only hope , because of her role in the Incarnation of Jesus, who represents the contribution of the world in God`s Salvation , the partaker of God`s plan , foretold from eternity.

"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. [Genesis 3:15]"

let`s remmeber what David says about her:

"They shall make mention of thy name from generation to generation: therefore shall the nations give thanks to thee for ever, even for ever and ever." [Psalms 44:11 /45:9]

"I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever." KJV

And


And Mary said:

My soul glorifies the Lord

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has been mindful

of the humble state of his servant.

From now on all generations will call me blessed,

for the Mighty One has done great things for me—

holy is his name. [Luke 1:46-49]
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« Reply #55 on: September 25, 2009, 09:34:19 AM »

See, I wouldn't argue about giving Mary her due for the role she played.  I think one of the worst losses for the Protestants was the inspiration of all the saints, Muslims even honor saints including Mary, John the Baptist, and other.  When you think about it, these people all played important roles in bringing other to God, in some way or other, Mary in a particularly huge way. Smiley Darn well we'd better honor them.  Where I run into the wall is when it comes to invoking her (or any saint) for future intentions, miracles, protection, etc which really can only come from God. If we were JUST asking her to pray for us, it wouldnt be problematic in my mind. This all couldn't have happened without her free will (or shall we say because God gave her the choice at the annunciation), granted - but I think her overall 'role' in this gets inflated. I mean, it was God who chose her intially anyway, it was his idea... ah, deep thoughts. Good morning. Smiley
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« Reply #56 on: September 25, 2009, 10:55:07 AM »

See, I wouldn't argue about giving Mary her due for the role she played.  I think one of the worst losses for the Protestants was the inspiration of all the saints, Muslims even honor saints including Mary, John the Baptist, and other.  When you think about it, these people all played important roles in bringing other to God, in some way or other, Mary in a particularly huge way. Smiley Darn well we'd better honor them.  Where I run into the wall is when it comes to invoking her (or any saint) for future intentions, miracles, protection, etc which really can only come from God. If we were JUST asking her to pray for us, it wouldnt be problematic in my mind. This all couldn't have happened without her free will (or shall we say because God gave her the choice at the annunciation), granted - but I think her overall 'role' in this gets inflated. I mean, it was God who chose her intially anyway, it was his idea... ah, deep thoughts. Good morning. Smiley

Do you believe that God can work miracles through people living on this earth at present time--for example, through a surgeon's hands?

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« Reply #57 on: September 25, 2009, 02:36:52 PM »


What about the incident at Blachernae?

According to Eastern Orthodox Sacred Tradition, the apparition of Mary the Theotokos occurred during the 10th century at the Blachernae church in Constantinople where several of her relics (her robe, veil, and part of her belt) were kept. On Sunday, October 1 at four in the morning, St. Andrew the Blessed Fool-for-Christ, who was a Slav by birth, saw the dome of the church open and the Virgin Mary enter, moving in the air above him, glowing and surrounded by angels and saints. She knelt and prayed with tears for all faithful Christians in the world. The Virgin Mary asked her son, Jesus Christ, to accept the prayers of all the people entreating him and looking for her protection. Once her prayer was completed, she walked to the altar and continued to pray. Afterwards, she spread her veil over all the people in the church as a protection.
St Andrew turned to his disciple, St. Epiphanius, who was standing near him, and asked, "Do you see, brother, the Holy Theotokos, praying for all the world?" Epiphanius answered, "Yes, Holy Father, I see it and am amazed!"
An icon of the Virgin Mary praying, surrounded by people, was said to be kept in the Blachernae church. It is said to reproduce the events as St Andrew saw them that day.

What a wonderful example, no?  She asked in earnest on our behalf.  She, herself, didn't manifest the miracle, but, through her intercession the people were saved. 

What's to say that is the case in all miracles attributed to her?

One of the 10 Commandments teaches us to respect our Mother and Father. 

When Christ turned the water into wine at the wedding in Cana, He stated that it was not yet time for Him to reveal Himself.  Yet, because His mother asked this of Him, He could not say "no" to her (per the Commandment).

Using that as an example, wouldn't it be accurate to assume that if she asks Christ today to grant us whatever it is that we are asking for help with, that He would listen to her?

I'm not saying that Christ takes "orders" from anyone, however, it is harder to say "no" to One's mother.

 
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« Reply #58 on: September 25, 2009, 04:08:00 PM »

I am a cradle Orthodox and phrases like "Mary, the savior of our souls" or "our only hope" have also bothered me.  Of course, these phrases cannot be sound theological statements. And, of course, they are sentimental pleas.

When I had one foot in the grave with heart problems, many people prayed for me. As for me, I prayed the Lord's prayer and also prayed for the Lord to make the doctors and nurses His instruments, His extensions. In any case, it is hard for me to say with certainty whether I am alive today because it was not time for me to go; the intercessions of the people and Saints who prayed for me; the actions of any particular doctor, surgeon or nurse; a direct intervention by God; or any combination of the above. (You will notice that I am discounting the last possibility that I am alive because a combination of luck, medical science, and my body and mind fighting death--this is a very remote possibility as my doctors to this day are amazed that I survived.)

I am telling you all this because when you look at this analysis of mine, one thing becomes very clear. All of the "what ifs" and logic pale into insignificance (almost disappear as when the sun burns off the fog) when you realize that the bottom line is: without God I would not be alive. Therefore, I advise you, as others have, not to concentrate on the phrases about the Theotokos or any other prayer that bother you. The object is not intellectual assent and satisfaction but the chalice.
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« Reply #59 on: September 25, 2009, 06:03:12 PM »

Thanks second chance for that very inspiring account.  I will ask one more question, although not directly related to the Theotokos.

I was in catechesis the other day, and one of the girls in there told the priest that she can't look up at the dome anymore because she is so afraid of Jesus.  I know that fear of God is a virtue, and one that we should all seek after. He is our dread Judge, of course, but he is also the one to whom we are to boldy approach with all of our concerns.  Do you think that as a result of this fear, that people feel they are not worthy to go directly to Him, and approach His mother instead in attempt to appease Him, since she does not have the ability to judge or condemn? Or perhaps in a sense, we consider her as our "safe" passageway to direct our concerns to, so she will filter them appropriately before sending them to Him, so we don't risk asking Christ things that would bring condemnation upon us?
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« Reply #60 on: September 25, 2009, 06:23:53 PM »

Thanks second chance for that very inspiring account.  I will ask one more question, although not directly related to the Theotokos.

I was in catechesis the other day, and one of the girls in there told the priest that she can't look up at the dome anymore because she is so afraid of Jesus.  I know that fear of God is a virtue, and one that we should all seek after. He is our dread Judge, of course, but he is also the one to whom we are to boldy approach with all of our concerns.  Do you think that as a result of this fear, that people feel they are not worthy to go directly to Him, and approach His mother instead in attempt to appease Him, since she does not have the ability to judge or condemn? Or perhaps in a sense, we consider her as our "safe" passageway to direct our concerns to, so she will filter them appropriately before sending them to Him, so we don't risk asking Christ things that would bring condemnation upon us?

That is certainly possible. But, why fret about this? You don't have to pray in any particular way in your private prayer life. The Lord told us we could pray directly to God the Father (the Lord's Prayer). We know we can pray to the Lord Himself and to the Holy Spirit. You can choose one or many set prayers, or even pray from your heart.

On the other hand, there are a lot of references in the Holy Scriptures to intercessions. In addition to praying directly to God the father, Son or the Holy Spirit, you could also ask for the intercession of your Christian friends and fellow Church members (to include the Theotokos and all of His Saints). Again, it does not really matter as, in each instance, you are praying to God.

Also, don't fret about what others believe or do; some things that we do are just pious customs--just concentrate on the essential task. As you get closer to the Lord, you will naturally draw closer to other members of His Body.
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« Reply #61 on: September 25, 2009, 09:12:48 PM »

Honestly, off the top of my head, I can't think of any specific words or phrases that the Orthodox considered as "off-limits" to use towards any person other than God. I believe this to be a very mis-leading and potentially dangerous practice.

And while it makes perfect sense that you are seeking clarification on many of these issues as a catechumen, does it really seem appropriate for you to be so hyper-critical of the Church that you're seeking to enter at such an early stage?  Shouldn't you be eager to learn from the Church, not to begin pronouncing judgments on her practices?

The most practical advice I can give you is to begin to actually pray these prayers.  I had to do this as a form of self-purification for a time, in order to counteract the resistance I was also getting from my Protestant half (I was raised half Southern Baptist and half Catholic).  I saw the Church bringing healing into every other aspect of my life, but I was openly resisting the Mother of God.  Understanding this is going to take time.

My only passing advice is to pick your battles, because I've already seem a lot of people argue their way right out of Orthodoxy.  Don't let the Virgin Mary being your stumbling block.  If you must, for now just focus on other things and come back to this later. 

Or just ignore me, because I'm probably totally off the mark.   Wink

I'm sorry, I've just been really frustrated lately. Aside from this issue, nearly everything else in Orthodoxy seems rock solid and makes perfect sense to me. Honestly, I think Orthodoxy is my last shot. If I convince myself out of this, I doubt there would be any more hope for me as far as Christianity goes, or any religion for that matter. I suppose i'll just try to focus on what I do understand for the time being and give this a rest.
Here is a simple way to look at this statement (Holy Theotokos, save us).  If you and some friends fell into a river and were drowning, you would shout, “Help!  Save us!”  You are not requesting that the person who throws you a rope save your souls. You are requesting that this person help you and your friends escape from danger.  Mary prays for us which helps us escape from "danger".

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« Reply #62 on: September 25, 2009, 09:25:36 PM »

Thanks second chance for that very inspiring account.  I will ask one more question, although not directly related to the Theotokos.

I was in catechesis the other day, and one of the girls in there told the priest that she can't look up at the dome anymore because she is so afraid of Jesus.  I know that fear of God is a virtue, and one that we should all seek after. He is our dread Judge, of course, but he is also the one to whom we are to boldy approach with all of our concerns.  Do you think that as a result of this fear, that people feel they are not worthy to go directly to Him, and approach His mother instead in attempt to appease Him, since she does not have the ability to judge or condemn? Or perhaps in a sense, we consider her as our "safe" passageway to direct our concerns to, so she will filter them appropriately before sending them to Him, so we don't risk asking Christ things that would bring condemnation upon us?
I feel saddened by your statement that someone cannot look upon the icon in your dome.  In my worthless opinion, I think she will feel less afraid after she goes to confession for the first time. She will feel relieved and will feel how much God loves her.

I have always had empathy for adult converts when they go to confession for the first time.  ( I have to warn people, behind me in the confession line, that it is going to be a looong wait once I get up there.)
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« Reply #63 on: May 06, 2013, 05:06:53 PM »

The Greek word for "Save" is "Soson." Save is an accurate translation into English.

 I'm late to the conversation but I was reading a book on the Divine Liturgy the other day and the author, Fr. Vassilios Papavassiliou, explained that 'soteria' can also mean 'to protect' or 'to help' in relation to asking Mary to save us.  This makes sense and also also helps.  But since 'soteria' is the word often used with 'salvation' (soteriology), what's the difference between "Soteria" and "Soson"?
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« Reply #64 on: May 06, 2013, 07:45:33 PM »

Christ is the only Savior, yet He uses means, including persons to save, therefore persons are said in our scripture to save,, as indicated clearly by the selective examples listed below.

That only Christ saves, and that persons can save others too is a typical "both/and" ancient Near Eastern (and explicitly biblical) method of speaking that potentially gives some modern Europeans and Americans (like yours truly) fits, but the problem is more cultural and linguistic than biblical. The both/and method not only of speaking, and not only thinking, but also being is, I would argue, integral to the Patristic doctrine of theosis and as such NOT a proper thing to jettison or cease to place at the forefront precisely as our Divine Liturgy has in the wisdom of our Fathers among the saints long placed it.

James 5:20 "remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins."

1 Tim 4:16 "Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers."

Jude 22-23 "Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear--hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh."

Rom 11:14 "I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry n the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.

1 Cor 1:21 "For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe."

1 Cor 7:16: "How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?"

1 Cor 9:22: "To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some."

We do not save alone. Mary does not save alone. Christ is the wellspring of our salvation who said "without Me you can do nothing" (Jn 15:54). Gal 2:20: "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." If we cannot understand and affirm what our Most Holy Theotokos, Fathers, and Saints were and are in Christ how can we begin to comprehend much less pursue what we in Christ are called to be and do?
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