Weekly Bulletin

St. Cyril of Jerusalem Orthodox Church
www.stcyril.us  (281) 298-3232
 
August 12, 2018
11th Sunday after Pentecost
Afterfeast of the Transfiguration of Christ
Martyrs Anicletus & Photius of Nicomedia (+305)
DORMITION FAST
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FEAST OF THE DORMITION OF THE MOTHER OF GOD – Divine Liturgy Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. At the conclusion of Liturgy we bless flowers and fragrant herbs, in honor of the tradition that when the tomb of the Mother of God was opened, her body was not there, but only her robe and cincture, and flowers. 

GENERAL PARISH ASSEMBLY – We will have a general parish assembly on Sunday, August 26, following the Divine Liturgy. ALL MEMBERS ARE ASKED TO BE PRESENT. The purpose of the assembly is to present a plan to rent property on FM 242 and purchase two mobile buildings to place on the property. WE CANNOT GO FORWARD with this plan until we have this assembly and vote on whether to adopt this plan. Then the plan can be presented to Archbishop Alexander for his blessing.

BUILDING FUND MATCH – An anonymous donor has pledged to match contributions to the building fund, up to a total of $5,000. The offer is good until November 1, 2018.

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The Veneration of the Virgin Mary
By Protopresbyter Michael Polsky

 

“He who is mighty hath done great things for me” (Luke 1:49).


THE VENERATION of the Mother of the Lord is of the same order as the veneration of all the saints, and shares with it a common foundation; excepting only that among the saints, the Most Holy Virgin Mary naturally occupies the first place and stands higher than them all.

The “blessing” or veneration of the Most Holy and blessed Virgin is expressed in the Church of Christ on earth, in the first instance, by hymns and readings, praising and glorifying her in the divine services. The principal, solemn church hymns are texts from the sacred Scriptures: the salutation of the Angel, Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with thee (Luke 1:28), and the hymn of the Most Holy Virgin herself, My soul doth magnify the Lord (v. 46).

The second expression of her veneration is manifest in the prayerful invocation of her aid in the multifarious needs of our temporal life and for our eternal salvation. Such prayer to the Virgin, and to all the saints, is based on the firm conviction of Orthodox Christians that all who have left the body and the earth are alive, and that the Heavenly and earthly Church are united under the one Head, Christ, that she is indeed His one Body, comprised of many members, who show compassion for one another and support one another (Luke 20; Eph. 1:10; Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12).

But how naturally, simply and easily for the Church of Christ is her understanding of the great things of the Most Holy Virgin, which the Mighty One hath done for her, and which are the bases and the aspects of her veneration; and, on the contrary, how difficult for others, who are outside the Body of Christ which is the Church, is such understanding and remembrance. At the same time, the common, authoritative (for Christians within the Church and outside her) foundation is the pure fount of knowledge, the Word of God, the Sacred Scriptures, which they find it difficult to agree about, because it is difficult for people outside the Church to be ministers of the New Testament, not according to the letter, but of the spirit (2 Cor. 3:6), and it is difficult for them to trust that the very same Holy Spirit, Who granted the Scriptures, also abides in the Church and that the Scriptures themselves were only granted to the Church on the assumption that unchangeably and inseparably the Holy Spirit, Who shall teach you all things (John 14:26), will abide within her. They believe that the Holy Spirit is in the Scriptures, but that in like power the Holy Spirit is unfailingly also in the Church they do not actually believe, and because they doubt this they have only the letter of Scripture without the spirit and life, without experiences, without incidents, without history, without practice, without life in Christ. Woe to those Christians outside the Church! It is difficult for them, the poor ones, to be saved, for what “increase” in the knowledge of God (Col. 1:10) can they offer unto God, not themselves having the Holy Spirit?

May the Lord help us to unfold the teaching of Christ’s Church about the veneration of the Most Holy Virgin Mary in accordance with the mind and spirit of the Word of God, and in accordance with the witness of the holy and God-inspired Fathers of the Church of the first centuries of Christianity, those who were immediately united to the Apostolic age, and were good witnesses of the activity of the Spirit of God in their minds, their words, their actions and in the whole of their church-life.

I. The Virgin Mary and Eve


CHRIST proceeded forth from the Virgin Mary, as Adam had from the earth: Adam by the inbreathing of the Spirit of God—And breathed into him the breath of life;—and Christ by the coming of the Holy Spirit—the Holy Spirit shall come upon thee—was said of the Virgin Mary. Thus Christ came forth according to the likeness of Adam (Gen 2:7; Luke 1:35).

But Christ also proceeded forth accordingly to the likeness of Eve: just as Eve came forth from a father without a mother (“from the rib”), so Christ came forth from a mother without a father (she “knew not a husband”). Just as the first Adam brought forth from Eve without the participation of a woman, so Mary brought forth Christ without the participation of a man. Eve appeared only by the “seed” of a man, and Christ appeared only by the “seed” of a woman. The means whereby Eve and Christ came into being are identical: both received human nature by the power of God from one sex. At first the woman (Eve) did so from a man, and thereafter the man (Christ) did so from a woman. Thus Christ received the nature of the first Adam, the nature of all mankind, or the whole Adam from Mary, who gave Him this nature of Adam. For this reason as Adam said of Eve so can we say of Mary, and through her even of Christ: This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. Through the Virgin Mary our nature exists in Christ, the Second Adam (Genesis 2:21, 23; Luke 1:34).

Just as Christ is the Second Adam, so Mary is the second Eve. This is evident from a comparison of the temptation of Eve with the Annunciation of Mary.

Then there was a manifestation of a fallen Angel, the serpent, the devil. Here there is a manifestation of a holy Angel, Gabriel. Genesis 3:1 (Rev. 20:2) Luke 1:26.

The first promised Eve, that through her man would be as God,—ye shall be as gods. The second promised Mary that through her God would become man—He shall be called the Son of the Most High … the Son of God. Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Genesis 3:4—Luke 1:32, 35; Matt. 1:23.

Through Eve—the fall; through Mary—salvation. When Eve was deluded and desired to be as God, she was not made God. Now God is made man so that man can in reality become divine, and first of all Mary does so, in whom He came, as being the first of all the race of man. Woman was the first to fall, and the first to be saved.

Eve was shown as one who did not trust God’s commandments, who did not believe God and who longed to receive divinization by her own empirical knowledge. Mary trusted God completely; in this faith she rejected knowledge (I know not a man, and it was not necessary to know one), and she said: Be it unto me according to thy word. Then there was a fall for Eve, and through her doubt and unbelief for all people; here there is salvation for her [Mary], and through faith for all people. Genesis 3:6—Luke 1:34, 37, 45.

Eve showed disobedience to God and to His commandment—thou shalt not eat of it (of the tree) … she took of the fruit thereof and did eat. Mary was obedient to the will of God at the Annunciation without any doubt and she said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Genesis 2:17, 3:6—Luke 1:38.

Eve became proud in her thoughts—ye shall be as gods. Mary was the humble handmaid of the Lord, both in receiving the good tidings of the advent through her of God in the flesh, and also even before this event, for which cause He had looked upon the lowliness of His handmaiden, and it was precisely for this quality of her soul that He turned His attention to her, and for it that He deemed her worthy to be His Mother. Then through pride Eve desired to be God, and now in humility Mary is deemed worthy to receive God into herself and give Him human nature for the sake of our salvation. Genesis 3:4—Luke 1:48.

Eve was deprived of the grace of the Holy Spirit and was no longer permitted to approach the tree of life. Mary received in herself the Son of God, Life Eternal; she found grace, God; she received the salutation, Rejoice, full of grace! the Lord is with thee, and she conceived according to the word: the Holy Spirit shall come upon thee….

In these first and very important examples we see that God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Genesis 3:24—Luke 1:28, 30, 35; James 4:6.

For her sin Eve was given over to the afflictions and pains of childbearing; Mary as one without a husband and one who had not sinned, painlessly gave birth to a Son.

But it was because Eve was seduced by the sweetness of the fruit of the tree of life, that a sword pierced the soul of Mary, when she saw her Son on the tree of the Cross. Christ redeemed the sin of Eve. The rib, from which Eve was fashioned, was pierced in the second Adam and, as a sign of expiation and cleansing of the first sin, blood and water poured therefrom. But to the Cross of her Son Mary brought her guiltless, redemptive moral affliction and suffering for the sin of Eve, because it was on account of the sin of Eve that her Son ascended the Cross. Mary suffered on account of Eve and at the very Cross itself, where the sin of Eve was washed away. Luke 2:35; John 19:34.

We see that if Christ is the second Adam, then Mary is in reality the second Eve, and if Eve was made as a help, meet for and like unto Adam (Gen. 2:18, 20), so Mary in all her qualities appeared as “help, meet for and like unto” the second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself And in so far as the greatness of the second Adam is boundless, so too the greatness of the second Eve is holy and exalted, worthy of this Adam.

There is none among men to compare with her. At the beginning and in the middle of history, there stand two women, Eve and Mary. Eve is the mother of fallen and sinning mankind. Mary is the mother of a new, reborn mankind which is being saved. In the first there was the cause of universal evil; in the second, the cause of universal good. 

To be continued . . .