Orthodox venerate the Theotokos (Virgin Mary).
Very true, after attending the Akathist hym services this last lent, and getting to know Orthodox priests and Orthodox families, I know this to be very true.
But I dare say that some Roman Catholics placed the Virgin on a scale extremely close to Divinity.
Spartacus, in another thread you said you were a former Catholic apologist, I highly doubt you were if this crap comes out of your mouth! Please do tell how the Catholic Church places the Blessed Virgin Mary on a scale "extremely close to Divinity."
I sure hope your argument for this one isn't as stupid as the one you had against the use of ashes in the Catholic Church!
I don't mean to offend you, or be rude, but comments like these are truly absurd!
Some insisting that one must go through the Virgin Mary in order for Christ to hear our prayers.
We do not have to have a devotion to Mary to become close to Christ or to be rewarded eternal life with God in Heaven. But even the the Orthodox Church teaches that correct Marian devotion brings us closer to Christ.
We must remember though, that if it were not for Mary, the story of our salvation would be totally different! Through Mary, God came to us, and it only makes sense that we now go to God through Mary, the Blessed ever-virgin. And this is what the Catholic Church teaches. The Catholic Church does *not* teach you must have a devotion to Mary to enter Heaven or even have a relationship with Chirst, but it only makes sense to have a devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and only God knows how many miracles and conversions have been brought about by her powerful intercession.
As Orthodox we ask the Theotokos to pray for us but still recognize that Christ is her savior as well as ours.
And so does the Catholic Church! If you think that somehow the dogma of the Immaculate Conception means Mary needed no savior, then you truly don't understand the dogma! The whole point of the Immaculate Conception, is that God *saved* the Blessed Virgin form *all* sin, original and actual. And to be honest, this is not very different froom the Orthodox teaching on the matter.
The Orthodox Church teaches Mary, like all of us, is free from Adam's guilt, and that she never commited acutal sin. The vast majoirty of Orthodox priests I have spoken to have told me that the Orthodox Church believes the Virgin to chose not to commit actual sin, and by this choice and the grace of God, she was free from all sin.
The only difference is that the Orthodox Church doesn't make such things Dogma, for I have been told it would make Theosis to complex, when in reality it is very simple, and must reamin this way. The Catholic Church just likes to define everything, while the Orthodox Church doesn't.
Also, another huge differnce is that the Orthodox Church centers on Mary much more, liturgically speaking. I remember one Orthodox priest (OCA) telling me that the Western Church slowly took Mary out of the Liturgy, and Marian devotion turned into a private thing, and this where such practices as the Rosary comes in. While in the Orthodox Church the Blessed Virgin is invoked so many times in the Litrugy, and there are many Orthodox feast days devoted to her.
Rather than pray the Rosary we use prayer ropes and pray the Jesus prayer.
Both the Rosary and the Jesus Prayer are great prayers, but if we take your statement too far we end up saying "Rather than sing the Akathist Hym, we should sing Thrice-Holy Hym again and again" or "Rather than asking the Theotokos to pray for us, we should go straight to Jesus." If we take what you are saying to far, and apply it to all Marian devotion in the Church, we end up with something looking a lot like Protestantism.
Orthodox monastic manuals prescribe the recitation of up to 150 Our Fathers and the same number of the prayer "Rejoice, Virgin Mother of God" , accompanied by prostrations at the end of each prayer. The famous Saint Seraphim of Sarov had his special devotion of walking around the perimeter of the Monastery of Diveyevo, prayer rope in hand, reciting the 150 Our Fathers and Hail Marys for all one's relatives and friends, living and dead. At the end, one was to ask for a special grace and it would be granted on condition that the person truly needed it.
The use of a form of the Rosary was in vogue among certain Orthodox Bishops, including meditation on the mysteries. Such forms of prayer are to be found among the devotions of Saints of the Kyivan Baroque period such as St Dmytry Tuptalo, who adopted rosaries in honour of the "Joys and Sorrows of Our Lady" and who also recited a "Hail Mary" at the beginning of each and every hour of the day!
Bishop Seraphim Zvezdinsky, martyred by the Bolsheviks in 1937, prayed fifteen decades of the rosary, that is, fifteen groups of ten Hail Mary's headed with an Our Father.
He meditated on the following mysteries at the beginning of each decade of prayers:
1) Nativity of the Mother of God - for families
2) Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple - for bad Christians
3) Annunication - for those who are depressed
4) Visit to St Elizabeth by the Theotokos - for the unification of persons who are separated from one another
5) Nativity of Christ - for the rebirth of our souls
6) Meeting of the Lord in the Temple --for a good death
7) Flight to Egypt - to flee from temptations
8 ) Finding in the Temple of the boy Jesus - for the Grace of constant repetition of the Jesus Prayer
9) the Miracle at Cana - for the constant assistance of the Mother of God
10) the Mother of God under the Cross of Her Son - for fortitude
11) the Resurrection - for strngth and persistence in spiritual exercises
12) Ascension - for the grace to transcend worldly things and live for heavenly ones;
13) Pentecost - for a clean heart and the Gift of the Holy Spirit
14) the Dormition - for a peaceful and happy end
15) the Protection of the Mother of God - for the grace of constant protection by the Mother of God.