Mother of God
The Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary
Key Facts and Ideas
Some Christians and many others have difficulty in understanding the importance of Mary in some Christian traditions. The Orthodox Church neither neglects the Mother of God nor ascribes to her a significance beyond that demanded by the Incarnation and her total response to God throughout her life.
In the annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel she enabled our Saviour to come to earth in her Womb, the Infinite in the Finite. This is the origin of the title "Theotokos" or "God-Bearer" (aka Mother of God). The Third Ecumenical Council at Ephesus in 431 AD saw fit to use this term to settle permanently the implications of the Incarnation for the Person of Christ. He who was born of Mary taking our humanity from her was and never ceased to be true God. To say that Mary is something less than Theotokos is to deny the full meaning of the Incarnation. So, "Theotokos" is a title for Mary that really concerns her Son!
Throughout her life Mary remained in the background but always there supporting, as only a mother could, the infant Church of her Son. On numerous occasions she gathered together the apostles and others, enjoining them to be obedient to her Son. She stood weeping at the Cross with St. John when all others had fled. Tradition records that she held the veneration and respect of the Church until her Dormition (falling asleep, death) and Assumption into heaven at the close of her life. In all of this, like St. John the Baptist, she pointed all to Christ, (as you can see her doing in the icon above).
All of us appreciate people not only through our own perceptions but also through those who know them closely and can speak to us of their own personal knowledge and experience. In this manner we gain a rounded knowledge of the person relatively free from individual prejudices and distortions. Arguably, of all people, Mary knows her Son the best. Why then would we resist learning from her to complement our own direct knowledge of Christ? I know of no good reason. We should learn from the Mother in order to know and love the Son better.
Apart from the Father, (and he differently as incorporeal), nobody knows the Son like the Mother who was totally obedient to her Child.
Do I feel comfortable relating to the Virgin Mary? What stands in the way of this relationship?
1. The Ever-Virgin Mother of God by Fr. George Florovsky
2. The Blessed Virgin Mary by Bishop Alexander Mileant
3. Directory of Links concerning the Theotokos
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