One of the hardest things for me as a convert has been dealing with the theology of the Theotokos. I believe strongly that the Theotokos is the Mother of God. I believe it is right and good for us to ask her to pray to her Son to help us. I believe that we should venerate and honor her. And I accept the Church's teachings of her perpetual virginity, and of other beliefs we are taught. I rarely have issues with the liturgical hymns, save for a few choice hymns about the Theotokos, such as the one mentioned in the title of this post. In fact, I feel comfortable with this because of just getting to the point of asking her to pray for my grandpa...which ended up turning out okay.
Nonetheless, the hymn, O Virgin Pure, seems to go beyond human reverance and honor - to more of a type of worship / requests that I thought should be made to God alone. I truly want to understand this - so please don't think I'm trying to rebel against the beliefs of the Orthodox Church. I accept the teachings of the Church - but I always have a difficult time singing this hymn, and would like to get beyond this stumbling block. Below is the verse that I have the hardest time singing and understanding.
I supplicate you, Lady/ now do I call upon you
And I beseech you, Queen of all/ I beg of you your favor
Majestic maiden, spotless one/ O Lady Panagia
I call upon you fervently/ O sacred, hallowed temple
Assist me and deliver me/ protect me from the enemy
And make me an inheritor/ of blessed life eternal.
Rejoice, O Bride Unwedded!
The entire hymn seems to be a huge amount of honor and veneration and even worship beyond where I thought any human...no matter how perfect and pure and important...should receive. Individually, most of the lines of the hymn can be broken down (in my mind) to the point where they are acceptable. However, the last verse I have posted seems to have several lines that I have a very hard time reconciling. For example, it sounds like we are asking her to do the things listed...not having her pray and ask her Son to do them. "Assist me and deliver me"..."Protect me from my enemy..." and most importantly "And make me an inheritor of blessed life eternal." We believe that salvation is given from God...that we aren't given eternal live by a human, right? Why does this hymn (and several others) seem to assign that role of redemption and salvation to the Theotokos as opposed to God?
I asked my boyfriend's mother about this (they all are cradle Orthodox), and she said that she and others know that it is truly right to say these things because they have experienced the Theotokos coming to their aid. That she had a vision of the Theotokos comforting her...that others have had the Theotokos do things to help them...and that they have seen her do that. Which to me also rubs me the wrong way...since shouldn't it be God doing those things? If I understand it correctly, the roles of the Saints and the Theotokos are of honor, veneration, and requesting prayers from them in the same sense of an intercessor.
I truly do want to understand this...I don't want to have this sticking point. And I accept the teachings of the Orthodox Church...and I wont' let this keep me from trusting the teachings of the Orthodox Church...but I would like to understand it more if I can.
Thank you for your help!