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Author Topic: Christ-centered Mariology  (Read 1477 times) Average Rating: 0
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Volnutt
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« on: July 23, 2011, 07:42:18 PM »

I keep being told by Isa and others that the Orthodox do not do Mariology for its own sake but always in order to say things about Christ.

I can understand how confessing Mary as Theotokos and Mother of God is a statement about Christ. I can understand how Old Testament typologies like the Holy of Holies and the Burning Bush (as well as icons such as the Platytera and Kursk Root) are statements about Christ. I even see how Queen of Heaven and Champion Leader and Mother of Believers and Salvation of Christians are statements about Christ.



What I still need help with are the following:

Why she needed to be sinless following the birth of Christ (Though I can see now why she needed to be ever-virgin. The gate was opened for the Lord and then shut).

The purpose of her body being assumed into Heaven after death.

For the life of me, I can't see how these are directly related to Christ. Not that they're bad teachings in and of themselves, but I just don't undertand what makes them specifically Christocentric.
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John Ward
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« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2011, 07:43:39 PM »

I could be wrong, but that might be why neither of those are actually dogma, whereas the title of Theotokos is dogma, since it does have to do with Christ.
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Volnutt
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« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2011, 07:44:34 PM »

Maybe.
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biro
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« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2011, 07:52:11 PM »

Well, the prophet Elijah was swept up into Heaven without the fact of bodily death here on Earth, if I remember correctly. It's never been a major cause for concern, that I've heard about. Yet when we say that the Virgin Mary was assumed into Heaven after her death, it's a puzzlement for some. I don't think it's beyond the pale for Christ to do something unique to honor His holy mother. Mary did something no other human ever did- she was willing to give birth to Christ. If the Lord chose to bring her into Heaven before the rest of us, it's no problem for me.  Smiley
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Volnutt
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« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2011, 08:02:27 PM »

Well, the prophet Elijah was swept up into Heaven without the fact of bodily death here on Earth, if I remember correctly. It's never been a major cause for concern, that I've heard about. Yet when we say that the Virgin Mary was assumed into Heaven after her death, it's a puzzlement for some. I don't think it's beyond the pale for Christ to do something unique to honor His holy mother. Mary did something no other human ever did- she was willing to give birth to Christ. If the Lord chose to bring her into Heaven before the rest of us, it's no problem for me.  Smiley
You make a good point Smiley. Maybe I'm trying to be too systematic.

Another thought that comes to mind is that if she is the quintessential follower of Christ, then maybe it makes sense for her to receive her body back as a sign to us.

Though I have to admit, too much "Mary as prime exemplar" kind of worries because at times it feels like it occludes Christ as our example for living.
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« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2011, 08:06:55 PM »

I can see how you might think that, but it's not the case. Christ is our supreme example, we never forget Him, but honoring Mary does not take away from His honor- any more than reading about Ben Franklin takes away from the importance of George Washington.  Smiley Okay, odd example, but every culture has heroes, and ways to pay respect to those for whom it is grateful.
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2011, 08:16:14 PM »

I don't know that it's a matter of need so much as what was. If she did sin--and indeed some Orthodox believe she did--that wouldn't really change anything.  I will say that, especially in some of the prayers of the Church, the words about her have to be understood taking into consideration the idea that it is always God and Christ who is the focus. So, for example, "Theotokos save us" has to be seen within that context of God alone being the lover and saviour of mankind (and we can also compare the idea with passages such as 1 Tim. 4:16 and James 5:19-20).  
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Volnutt
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« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2011, 08:49:44 PM »

I see what you guys mean and "Theotokos, save us" I can understand. It's when the language gets super excessive such as in the Paraklesis that I think perfectly acceptable laudation breaks from it's moorings.

Unfortunately I can't find it now, but Father Thomas Hopko gave a podcast where he was talking about these prayers in relation to Protestant inquirers and he quoted he a response of a priest to one such letter. Anyway, this priest said that at time Mary is like the Christian's mother whom they can run to and at times even before they run to God. This is the possible excess that sticks in my mind and it seems like the hyperbole can lend itself to that quite easily.
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« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2011, 09:55:26 PM »

I think you're wrong but it's not going to do any good for me to repeat myself. If you don't understand praying with the saints, I suggest sending a message to one of the priests on this board. I've never thought of Marian devotion as pushing out Jesus. I think you believe that because you spent a long time as a Protestant, and no matter what Orthodox or Roman Catholics say, Protestants want to believe what they want to believe in this matter. "Yes." "No." "Yes." "No." It's only going to get more pointless from here on in.

Do you realize that the saints are worshiping God in Heaven, right now? And that when we join our prayers to them, we only take part in the Communion of Saints?

Unless you believe that there's a giant wall between us and Heaven, and Christ doesn't give people eternal life...

 Cry

That would be sad, I should think.
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« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2011, 12:00:11 AM »

I think you're wrong but it's not going to do any good for me to repeat myself. If you don't understand praying with the saints, I suggest sending a message to one of the priests on this board. I've never thought of Marian devotion as pushing out Jesus. I think you believe that because you spent a long time as a Protestant, and no matter what Orthodox or Roman Catholics say, Protestants want to believe what they want to believe in this matter. "Yes." "No." "Yes." "No." It's only going to get more pointless from here on in.
Actually, I'd really prefer to believe in devotion to the Saints and I can handle most of it except that one part. But like I said before, it's probably going to remain a problem of my conscience no matter what arguments I hear.  Undecided

I know you don't personally intend to slight God with your devotion to the Theotokos. I wish I could be like you.

Do you realize that the saints are worshiping God in Heaven, right now? And that when we join our prayers to them, we only take part in the Communion of Saints?
I do. But my conscience is perhaps irrational?

Unless you believe that there's a giant wall between us and Heaven, and Christ doesn't give people eternal life...
God forbid.
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Alveus Lacuna
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« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2011, 12:20:48 AM »

Actually, I'd really prefer to believe in devotion to the Saints and I can handle most of it except that one part. But like I said before, it's probably going to remain a problem of my conscience no matter what arguments I hear.  Undecided

After weighing all of the intellectual arguments, the thing that did it over time for me was participation in the devotions. May I suggest what my priest told me to do: every night for a couple of weeks (really 40 days but that might be too tough as even I didn't really do that) read the akathist to the Mother of God before her image.

That's it.

Just pray to God beforehand and open up your heart. Let Him know your reservations and that you don't want to offend God or to take any glory away from Him, but that you're trying to discern if the Orthodox faith is truly the original Christian faith. Ask Him in advance to forgive you if there's something wrong about doing it and for Him to show you that. Then just pray with an open heart and see what happens. At least do it a few times, but I think I probably did it about 10-15 times scattered over a month or two. It really made it click for me over time.
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« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2011, 01:16:17 AM »

Volnutt,
I had the same reservations.  Granted, I also had them about praying to Christ, so I had a bit to get over.  I pretty much followed Alveus' advice and it has helped.

I still believe, and some Orthodox clergy agree, that wording in various prayers can become theologically troublesome, but not if properly understood.  I still don't fully grasp why a faith that is so particular about wording is seemingly so relaxed about this. 

I think, like Alveus suggested, that if you explain your hesitation to God, He'll understand.
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Volnutt
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« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2011, 02:35:04 AM »

I've spontaneously said things like "Rejoice, God-bearing maiden" while reading and such, I'll try the more concerted effort you guys suggest. Thanks.  Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2011, 08:13:29 AM »

Volnutt:

I would recommend that you take the advice of Alveus' priest and simply pray the Akathist to the Mother of God every day for a month.  Don't try to overly intellectualize it, either.  Remember that the Orthodox faith is not a syllogism like Protestantism. The Orthodox faith is better expressed by poetry and mystery. And the Akathist Hymn is, if nothing else, religious poetry par excellence. Enjoy its poetic beauty and learn to love and rejoice in the Mother of God. You don't need to be like a Protestant and analyze intellectually every statement we make about her.
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« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2011, 08:29:17 AM »

I had some major reservations concerning the Orthodox view of Mary, including calling her the Theotokos. Then I went to an Orthodox service and saw her with Christ, and I noticed there wasn't a single icon of her without Christ also present in the icon. That's when it began to make sense to me.

She was the first faithful follower of Christ and in turn she continues to point the way.

As for the sinlessness and her body being assumed into Heaven...

She had the Eternal and Infinite within her womb, she said yes to this, so I have no reason to believe she would start telling God "no" after God had come forth from her womb! And as for her body being assumed, the way it's been explained to me is that Jesus is still Incarnate, so Mary is still His Mother. It makes sense that out of love for His Mother, she would be the first of the resurrected. I mean, what man doesn't love his mom?

But ultimately, I agree and disagree with the idea of Orthodoxy being more poetic. It is poetic, and it is mysterious, and it is only through participation we can see this...but after we have engaged in the mystery and the poetry, we begin to see the rationality. In other words, there is a rationality to it, but it's only accessible after you've begun to participate. I am still in the process of discovering this and only wish I had as much faith as everyone else on this board.
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“Wherefore, then, death approaches, gulps down the bait of the body, and is pierced by the hook of the divinity. Then, having tasted of the sinless and life-giving body, it is destroyed and gives up all those whom it had swallowed down of old." - St. John of Damascus
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