Orthodox Church of the Mother of God

Joy of all the Sorrowful - Mays Landing, NJ (f. 1966)

Orthodox Veneration of the Mother of God

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Attempts of Iconoclasts to Lessen the Glory of the Queen of Heaven; They are put to Shame.

AFTER THE Third Ecumenical Council, Christians began yet more fervently, both in Constantinople and in other places, to hasten to The intercession of the Mother of God and their hopes in Her intercession were not vain. She manifested Her help to innumerable sick people, helpless people, and those in misfortune. Many times She appeared as defender of Constantinople against outward enemies, once even showing in visible fashion to St. Andrew the Fool for Christ Her wondrous Protection over the people who were praying at night in the Temple of Blacherna.

The Queen of Heaven gave victory in battles to the Byzantine Emperors, which is why they had the custom to take with them in their campaigns Her Icon of Hodigitria (Guide). She strengthened ascetics and zealots of Christian life in their battle against human passions and weaknesses. She enlightened and instructed the Fathers and Teachers of the Church, including St. Cyril of Alexandria himself when he was hesitating to acknowledge the innocence and sanctity of St. John Chrysostom.

The Most Pure Virgin placed hymns in the mouths of the composers of church hymns, sometimes making renowned singers out of the untalented who had no gift of song, but who were pious laborers, such as St. Romanus the Sweet-Singer. Is it therefore surprising that Christians strove to magnify the name of their constant Intercessor? In Her honor feasts were established, to Her were dedicated wondrous songs, and Her Images were revered.

The malice of the prince of this world armed the sons of apostasy once more to raise battle against Immanuel and His Mother in this same Constantinople, which revered now, as Ephesus had previously, the Mother of God as its Intercessor. Not daring at first to speak openly against the Champion General, they wished to lessen Her glorification by forbidding the veneration of the Icons of Christ and His saints, calling this idol-worship. The Mother of God now also strengthened zealots of piety in the battle for the veneration of Images, manifesting many signs from Her Icons and healing the severed

The persecution against the venerators of Icons and Saints ended again in the victory and triumph of Orthodoxy, for the veneration given to the Icons ascends to those who are depicted in them; and the holy ones of God are venerated as friends of God for the sake of the Divine grace which dwelt in them, in accordance with the words of the Psalm: "Most precious to me are Thy friends." The Most Pure Mother of God was glorified with special honor in Heaven and on earth, and She, even in the days of the mocking of the holy Icons, manifested through them so many wondrous miracles that even today we remember them with contrition. The hymn “In Thee All Creation Rejoices, 0 Thou Who Art Full of Grace,” and the Icon of the Three Hands remind us of the healing of St. John Damascene before this Icon; the depiction of the Iviron Icon of the Mother of God reminds us of the miraculous deliverance from enemies by this Icon, which had been thrown in the sea by a widow who was unable to save it.

No persecutions against those who venerated the Mother of God and all that is bound up with the memory of Her could lessen the love of Christians for their Intercessor. The rule was established that every series of hymns in the Divine Services should end with a hymn or verse in honor of the Mother of God (the so-called “Theotokia”) . Many times in the year Christians in all corners of the world gather together in church, as before they gathered together, to praise Her, to thank Her for the benefactions She has shown, and to beg mercy.

But could the adversary of Christians, the devil, who goeth about roaring like a lion, seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8), remain an indifferent spectator to the glory of the Immaculate One? Could he acknowledge himself as defeated, and cease to wage warfare against the truth through men who do his will? And so, when all the universe resounded with the good news of the Faith of Christ, when everywhere the name of the Most Holy One was invoked, when the earth was filled with churches, when the houses of Christians were adorned with Icons depicting Her-then there appeared and began to spread a new false teaching about the Mother of God. This false teaching is dangerous in that many cannot immediately understand to what degree it undermines the true veneration of the Mother of God.

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