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Author Topic: Most Holy Theotokos, save us.  (Read 1342 times) Average Rating: 0
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oldgoat2013
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« on: August 02, 2013, 08:38:29 AM »

I am confused about something. As a person on a journey to Orthodoxy from Protestantism I was told that in Orthodoxy Mary is not worshipped and only Christ saves us.  Then I see "Most Holy Theotokos, save us,"
in the liturgy and I become confused.

Can someone help me with my confusion?

Thanks!
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« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2013, 08:45:30 AM »

It's been discussed many times before, so maybe someone can link to those threads, but I'll try to briefly answer.

We all ultimately help each other by God's grace and power, as we all ultimately have out very being in God. We have a real communion with the saints, thus we ask them to help, save, and rescue us. This does not mean that our salvation is ultimately found in the Holy Virgin, but rather that she is an agent of God's saving actions. If you were drowning in the water and cried out to me: "Save me, Matthew!" I wouldn't look at you and say: "Sorry, only God can save!" Same basic principle.

All that being said, she has a place of preeminence among the saints due to her extreme obedience to God has the Ark of the New Covenant.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2013, 08:45:38 AM by Alveus Lacuna » Logged
jah777
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« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2013, 09:34:04 AM »

As was pointed out, this is a very common question of inquirers so you can probably find a lot of good responses to this question on this forum and elsewhere.  I will just point out a few things.  When Protestants hear "save us!" they usually have only one definition in mind for "save", that is to grant eternal salvation which was the purpose of Christ's Incarnation, Death, Resurrection, and the sending down of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  This is not the only meaning of the word "save", however, nor is it the only meaning used in the Scriptures.  For instance, in Matthew 8:24-25, when the disciples were in the boat and and a violent storm arose while the Lord slept, they cried out to the Lord, "Lord, save us: we perish".  They were not saying, "deliver us from the consequences of sin, from the Evil One, and from Hell", but rather keep them safe, protect them from the storm, etc. 

According to the Greek Lexicon, the word "save", which is transliterated as "sozo", has as one of its meanings, "to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction one (from injury or peril)", which is also a definition of the word "save" in the English language.  The same word can be used to refer to being delivered from the consequences of sin and death.  Now, we Orthodox Christians who pray "Most Holy Theotokos, save us!" have already been baptized and cleansed of our ancestral sin and of those sins we accumulated prior to baptism.  We have already committed our life to Christ as Saviour and God.  However, we understand that salvation is not a one-time decision, but the healing of our souls from the sickness of sinful passions as we struggle to live a life of obedience to Christ.  If you have studied the subject of "salvation" in Orthodox teaching, and the Scriptural basis of the Orthodox teaching on this subject, you understand that after baptism a person can still be condemned if they fail to live a life of repentance in obedience to Christ and instead give serve the passions and the will of the Devil. 

In our spiritual struggle to save our souls by keeping the commandments of Christ and fleeing from the snares of the Evil One, we need great help.  So, we receive the mysteries, we ask God to help us, and we also ask the saints and the Theotokos to help us.  The longer one is in the Church, the more one appreciates and comes to love the Theotokos, understanding the great power of her prayers to the Lord, her great purity and holiness, and also her great love for man.  We cry, "Most Holy Theotokos, save us!" because we are asking for her help as we face the many trials of life which seek to divert us from following her Son, which is Christ our God. 

So, the Theotokos does not grant salvation or anything else apart from Christ.  The saints and the Theotokos were not able to accomplish anything apart from Christ in their life, nor can they help us now apart from Christ.  The only glory that the saints and the Theotokos have is due to their obedience to Christ and His glorification of them.  But those who are of Christ, who are part of His body, who have been cleansed by Him of their sins and are on the path of salvation, we receive great help in trials by asking the Theotokos to save us from the snares of the Devil by her holy prayers.   
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« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2013, 09:40:27 AM »

Romans 11:14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
James 5:20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
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« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2013, 09:47:26 AM »

All these fine folks have it pretty much covered

For me, as a trained linguist, I just realise it's that in English we lack enough synonyms for 'save' that can be used to convey the nuances.

And yes, it feels and sounds terribly odd at first, to Protestant 'Jesus Saves' ears. That part just takes time. 
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« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2013, 10:24:19 AM »

I like to think of it this way:  Would the Son ignore the petitions of His Mother?  Or, the marriage feast at Canaan when His Mother requested something be done because the wine vessels were empty.  Our Lord, in spite of knowing His "time has not come" did obey His Mother and provide the wine for the celebration.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2013, 10:26:45 AM by JoeS2 » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2013, 10:27:57 AM »

I am confused about something. As a person on a journey to Orthodoxy from Protestantism I was told that in Orthodoxy Mary is not worshipped and only Christ saves us.  Then I see "Most Holy Theotokos, save us,"
in the liturgy and I become confused.

Can someone help me with my confusion?

Thanks!
I agree with the above posters.  The questions you raise remind me of the questions I had when I joined the Eastern Church -- I'm still there.
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katherineofdixie
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« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2013, 11:44:45 AM »

When Protestants hear "save us!" they usually have only one definition in mind for "save", that is to grant eternal salvation which was the purpose of Christ's Incarnation, Death, Resurrection, and the sending down of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  This is not the only meaning of the word "save", however, nor is it the only meaning used in the Scriptures.  For instance, in Matthew 8:24-25, when the disciples were in the boat and and a violent storm arose while the Lord slept, they cried out to the Lord, "Lord, save us: we perish".  They were not saying, "deliver us from the consequences of sin, from the Evil One, and from Hell", but rather keep them safe, protect them from the storm, etc. 

According to the Greek Lexicon, the word "save", which is transliterated as "sozo", has as one of its meanings, "to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction one (from injury or peril)", which is also a definition of the word "save" in the English language.  The same word can be used to refer to being delivered from the consequences of sin and death.  Now, we Orthodox Christians who pray "Most Holy Theotokos, save us!" have already been baptized and cleansed of our ancestral sin and of those sins we accumulated prior to baptism.  We have already committed our life to Christ as Saviour and God.  However, we understand that salvation is not a one-time decision, but the healing of our souls from the sickness of sinful passions as we struggle to live a life of obedience to Christ.  If you have studied the subject of "salvation" in Orthodox teaching, and the Scriptural basis of the Orthodox teaching on this subject, you understand that after baptism a person can still be condemned if they fail to live a life of repentance in obedience to Christ and instead give serve the passions and the will of the Devil. 

In our spiritual struggle to save our souls by keeping the commandments of Christ and fleeing from the snares of the Evil One, we need great help.  So, we receive the mysteries, we ask God to help us, and we also ask the saints and the Theotokos to help us.  The longer one is in the Church, the more one appreciates and comes to love the Theotokos, understanding the great power of her prayers to the Lord, her great purity and holiness, and also her great love for man.  We cry, "Most Holy Theotokos, save us!" because we are asking for her help as we face the many trials of life which seek to divert us from following her Son, which is Christ our God. 

So, the Theotokos does not grant salvation or anything else apart from Christ.  The saints and the Theotokos were not able to accomplish anything apart from Christ in their life, nor can they help us now apart from Christ.  The only glory that the saints and the Theotokos have is due to their obedience to Christ and His glorification of them.  But those who are of Christ, who are part of His body, who have been cleansed by Him of their sins and are on the path of salvation, we receive great help in trials by asking the Theotokos to save us from the snares of the Devil by her holy prayers.   

Hi, o.g., remember on another thread I said that Protestants and Orthodox often use the same words and mean radically different things? This is one of those times!
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oldgoat2013
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« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2013, 10:21:46 PM »

Thanks again everyone for your very helpful posts.  I am attempting to face my biases.  I have challenges ahead, but God will help me.
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oldgoat2013
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« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2013, 10:03:16 PM »

Well, Saturday I attended a Paraklesis service at a small Antiochan Orthodox church I found.  I was able to bow to the Icon of the Theotokos and kiss it.

I am making progress.
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« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2013, 10:09:58 PM »

Well, Saturday I attended a Paraklesis service at a small Antiochan Orthodox church I found.  I was able to bow to the Icon of the Theotokos and kiss it.

I am making progress.
That's very rapid progress! It took me at least six months of attending regularly before I kissed an icon. Can't imagine not doing it now, of course!

My own little parish is doing the Paraklesis service once each week during the Dormition Fast (Thursday evenings). It's our first chance to do so since we just bought a building of our own this past spring - our former rental accommodations gave us little flexibility for additional services.

It's a wonderful service that reminds us that we're not alone in our prayers.
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« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2013, 10:22:50 PM »

If it helps, as you are exposed to more and more Orthodox services. If you listen closely, in some of them you will hear a fuller expression of "O Theotokos, save us." It continues "by your prayers/through your intercessions" or related variations on that idea.

It is also well to remember that the fathers and saints of old teach that the Saints communicate God not unlike the way iron heated at the forge communicates fire. A touch is sufficient.

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« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2013, 09:57:59 AM »

Well, Saturday I attended a Paraklesis service at a small Antiochan Orthodox church I found.  I was able to bow to the Icon of the Theotokos and kiss it.

I am making progress.

Hi, one thing that helped me a great deal in understanding devotion to Mary (also coming from a protestant background) was one of the 10 commandments. Honor thy father and thy mother. As I reflected on that It came to me that Jesus would obey commandment. He obeyed the law perfectly. And as I reflected on what it means to be the theotokos, and what it means to honor thy mother, the devotion shown to Blessed Mary began to make perfect sense.
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« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2013, 11:11:37 AM »


This also holds true for the miracle at the wedding at Cana.

He changed water into wine, before His time....only because His mother asked Him to.  The event "saved" the reputation of those involved.

So, if we ask her to pray for us, to ask on our behalf....He will listen...and we will be saved.
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« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2013, 07:46:48 PM »

a fortiori argument

We have read heard in the scriptures that believers will possess power. So, is the Theotokos, the mother of our Lord and God, be less?

Lord, have mercy.

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« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2013, 08:33:04 AM »

I'm not yet Orthodox, but I remember reading a story (I think it was in Mark, and maybe in other Gospels as well; only just getting back into reading the Bible) where four men bring their paralyzed friend to see Jesus, and he tells the four men, not the paralyzed man, that their faith has been rewarded, and then tells the paralyzed man that his sins are forgiven. Then the Pharisees start whispering and Jesus heals him physically as well, but my point is that he rewards our faith when we ask for his help on behalf of others, not just ourselves.

So why not ask for Mary, who we know to be without sin, to ask for his help on our behalf, when we know that she has perfect faith, and, being without sin, can't possibly ask anything that would be wrong?

What I said above makes sense to me, but if it was wrong in any respect, please let me know. I'm very new to Orthodoxy.
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