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Two relationships entwined

“He cannot have God for his Father who has no the Church for his mother.” – St. Cyprian of Carthage

Vespers Stichera, Annunciation

Gabriel came and stood before you, O Virgin.
Revealing God’s eternal plan he greeted you:
“Hail, O earth that has not been sown!
Hail, burning bush that remains unconsumed!
Hail, O unsearchable depth!
Hail, O bridge that leads to heaven,
and ladder raised on high that Jacob saw!
Hail, deliverance from the curse and restoration of Adam! The Lord is with you!”

Annunciation. Byzantyne icon fom St. Catheryne...
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You appear to me in the form of a man,”
the undefiled Virgin said to the captain of the heavenly hosts.
“How can you speak to me of things that pass man’s power?
You have said that God will be with me,
that He will take up His dwelling in my womb.
How shall I become the holy dwelling place of Him
Who rides upon the Cherubim? Do not deceive me.
I have not known pleasure; I have not entered into wedlock.
How then shall I bear a child?”

“When God so wishes,” said the bodiless angel,
“the order of nature is overcome.
What is beyond man’s power comes to pass.
Believe my words, O pure and holy Lady.”
She cried out, “Be it done to me according to your word!
I shall bear Him who has no flesh! He will take flesh from me!
By this, He will lead mankind to glory,
for He alone has the power to accomplish this!”

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Fulfill Our Intention

Magnify, O my soul, her who is more honorable and more glorious than the armies on high. It would be easier for us to keep silence, out of fear, for it is without danger, and it is difficult O Virgin to weave complex hymns harmoniously with love. But O Mother, grant us strength to fulfill our intention. – Apodosis of Nativity, Ode IX.

Originally posted 1/9/2008

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Our Mother

Theotokos - God Bearer - Mother of GodRejoice O Jerusalem. Keep the feast all ye who love Sion. Today, the ancient bonds of Adam’s condemnation hath been loosed. Paradise hath been opened unto us. The serpent hath been destroyed. He who deceived our first Mother of old, hath now seen a Woman become the Mother of the Creator. O the depths of the richness and the wisdom and understanding of God! For, the vessel of sin which brought death upon all flesh, hath become the beginning of salvation for the whole world through the Theotokos. For the all-perfect God hath been born of Her as a babe, and sealeth her Virginity by His birth . . .” – the Glory be, Holy Nativity, Tone 4 (from the All-Night Vigil)

Originally posted 1/9/2009

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9th Ode of the 2nd Canon of Christ's Nativity

Magnify, O my soul, her who is more honorable and more exalted in glory than the heavenly hosts.
I behold a strange and wonderful mystery: the cave a heaven, the Virgin a cherubic throne, and the manger a noble place in which hath lain Christ the uncontained God. Let us, therefore, praise and magnify Him.

Fresco of nativity with woman Salome bathing c...
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Magnify, O my soul, the God born in flesh from the Virgin.
When the Magi saw a new and strange star appearing suddenly, moving in a wonderful way, and transcending the stars of heaven in brightness, they were guided by it to Christ, the King born on earth in Bethlehem, for our salvation.

Magnify, O my soul, the King born in a cave.
The Magi said, Where is the Child King, the newborn, Whose star hath appeared? For we have verily come to worship Him. And Herod, the contender against God, trembled, and began to roar in folly to kill Christ.

Magnify, O my soul, the God worshipped by the Magi.
Herod ascertained from the Magi about the time of the star by whose guidance they were led to Bethlehem to worship with presents Christ Who guided them, and so they returned to their country, disregarding Herod, the evil murderer of babes, mocking him.

Today the Virgin giveth birth to the Lord inside the cave.
Verily it is easier for us to endure silence since there is no dread danger therefrom for us. But because of our strong desire, O Virgin, and Mother of sameness, to indite well-balanced songs of praise, this becometh indeed onerous to us. Wherefore, grant us power to equal our natural inclination.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: Magnify, O my soul, the might of the indivisible and three-personed Godhead.
O pure one, Mother of the Word that appeareth newly from thee, O closed door, verily, as we behold the dark shadowy symbols pass away, we glorify the light of the truth and bless thy womb as is meet.

Both now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen. Glorify, O my soul, her who hath delivered us from the curse.
The Christ-pleasing people, O Virgin, having deserved to be granted its desire by the coming of God, doth seek now with tears thy help to worship the glory of His enlivening appearance wherein is the renewal of birth; for it is thou who dost distribute grace, O pure one.

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The Gospel Summarized in the Anaphora

With these blessed powers, O Master and Lover of Mankind, we sinners also cry out and say: “Holy are You, truly all-holy!” There is no limit to the majesty of your holiness. You are revered in all your works, for in righteousness and true judgment You have ordered all things for us. When You created man and had fashioned him from the dust of the earth and had honored him as your own image, O God, You set him in the midst of a bountiful paradise, promising him life eternal and the enjoyment of everlasting good things by keeping your commandments.

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But when he disobeyed You, the true God Who had created him, and was led astray by the deceit of the serpent, he was made subject to death through his own transgressions. In your righteous judgment, O God, You exiled him from paradise into this world and returned him to the earth from which he had been taken. But You provided for him the salvation of rebirth which is in your Christ Himself.

For You did not turn Yourself away forever from your creation whom You had made, O Good One, nor did You forget the work of your hands, but You visited him in different ways. Through the tender compassion of your mercy, You sent forth prophets. You performed great works by the Saints who in every generation were well-pleasing to You. You spoke to us through the mouths of your servants the Prophets who foretold to us the salvation which was to come. You gave us the Law to aid us. You appointed angels to guard us. And when the fullness of time had come, You spoke to us through your Son Himself, through whom You had created time.

Being the Brightness of your Glory and the Stamp of your Person, and upholding all things by the power of his Word, your Son did not think of equality with You, Who alone are God and Father, as something to be grasped. And so, although He was God before time began, He appeared on earth and dwelt among us. He was incarnate of a holy virgin and emptied Himself, taking on the form of a servant and being conformed to the body of our lowliness so that He might conform us to the image of his glory. Since sin entered the world through a man and death through sin, so your Only-begotten Son, Who is in your bosom, our God and Father, was well- pleased to be born of a woman, the holy Birth-giver of God and ever- virgin Mary. He was born under the Law, so that He might condemn sin in his own flesh, so that those who died in Adam might be made alive in Him, your Christ.

He lived in this world and gave us commandments for salvation. He released us from the delusions of idolatry and brought us to the knowledge of You, true God and Father. He procured us for Himself as a chosen people, a royal priesthood and a holy nation. Having purified us with water, He sanctified us with the Holy Spirit. He gave Himself as a ransom to death by which we were held captive, having been sold into slavery by sin. He descended into the realm of death through the Cross, that He might fill all things with Himself. He loosed the sorrow of death and rose again from the dead on the third day, for it was not possible that the Author of Life should be conquered by corruption. In this way He made a way to the resurrection of the dead for all flesh. Thus, He became the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep, the first-born of the dead, that He might be first in all ways among all things. Ascending into heaven, He sat at the right hand of your Majesty on High, and He shall come again to reward each person according to his deeds.

— Liturgy of St. Basil, the anaphora

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Theological Episteme

“Theological language uses episteme, but cannot reduce itself to it without falling yet again from this world.” – Vladimir Lossky

The Illusion of Concepts

“Yet theological thought can also become a hindrance, and one must avoid indulging in it, abandoning oneself to the feverish illusion of concepts.” – Vladimir Lossky

The East

“God planted the garden in Eden, in the East.” – St. Symeon the New Theologian

God Without Opposite

“God as being, existence itself and goodness itself and wisdom itself – or to speak more truly, above all these – has altogether no opposite…” – St. Maximus the Confessor

Idle Words

“Since an ‘idle word’ is not just one which is unprofitable, but equally one which is spoken or written ‘before we practice it and gain knowledge of it from experience.” – – Anestis Keselopoulos, Man and the Environment (citing St. Symeon, Ethical Discourses)

Material Autonomy

“The oppressive and tyrranical control which man feels from material goods is due to the effort he makes, whether consciously or unconsciously, to make them autonomous from their Creator.”- Anestis Keselopoulos, Man and the Environment

Iconography and Ecology

(of ikons): “The fact that man, as the crown of creation, is always put in the foreground while the rest of creation is arranged as a background, not only shows mand’s dominant position in creation, but also the responsibility he has for rightly coexisting with it properly.”- Anestis Keselopoulos, Man and the Environment

Tyrrany

“St. Symeon notes man’s tendency to tyrranize his social and his natural environment.” – Anestis Keselopoulos, Man and the Environment