From this week, until the 14th of August, each day is dedicated to the Theotokos and ‘Mother of the Light.’ (Orthros) Our thoughts and hearts are with her, especially throughout this summer period. Why, however, does the Orthodox Church place so much significance, love, and dedication to the Mother of our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ?
The Virgin Mary’s acceptance and consent, opened the path to salvation:
‘May your will be done’ (Matt 6:10)
As Christians we aim to leave behind our ego, and self-centred will, in order to live the will of God, offering our whole lives to Him. The All-Holy Theotokos is our greatest example of this, with God calling her to offer the world our very salvation, bringing Christ the Saviour into this world. The Virgin Mary said yes:
‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ (Luke 1:38)
God gives us complete freedom, in order for us to choose, on our own, the path of virtue, and sacrificial love. The Mother of our Lord (like all the saints of the Church) shows us, and guides us on this path. She gave up everything for her Son and God. The Virgin Mary, as our representative, and Mother, opens this path of salvation - not by being forced or persuaded, but solely by her own freedom. Only then, through our own free will and choice, and our thirst for Christ, are we led to salvation. We should ask the Virgin Mary for her intercessory assistance in our struggle on the same path, so we may walk on the bridge she has built, leading us to the Theanthropos Christ; that we may also give our own consent to God’s great will in our own lives.
The relationship our Holy Mother has with the Lord, is the relationship we strive to obtain with Christ - an unbreakable communion with Him, far from sin and egocentrism. We are therefore called to this relationship of unity and communion with the Almighty God, to eternal life offered by Christ - the source of life and love. Through the works, sacrifice and above all, the yes given by the Virgin Mary, we are able to see our very goal.
The recently recognised Saint, Elder Paisios, when praying to the Mother of God, would always cut wild flowers (found outside his cell) and would place them next to her icon, as an offering. The Elder said ‘how could I go with empty hands to ask for her help.’ In the same, simple manner, let us offer the Virgin Mary our own prayers, candles, incense and this period of humble fasting, asking for her intercessions to God, the only Lover of mankind.