Since this feast coming up for our church, the Feast of Dormition, of
the demise of our beloved St. Mary, the mother of God, I thought I'd
share my thoughts. This day commemorates the perunaal of my church,
St. Mary's Jackson Heights, NY. This day, August 15, is very
important for the Orthodox Faith. We take lent and fast two weeks
prior to this day, and keep it as one of the High Holy days. I am not
going to write about the feast per say, but about St. Mary. St. Mary
is my personal Patron Saint.
I know someone who is related to me, who always asks me the age old
questions, "Why must you give so much importance and prominence to
Mary, she is not important. Why do you pray to her (or other saints
in fact) when prayer directly towards Christ Jesus is enough?"
Eventually they went on to tell me that interceding to Saints is what
directs our attention elsewhere forgetting Christ our Lord, and if I
keep on interceding to Saints, I will not enter into the Kingdom of
God. All these questions, I used to never be able to answer, but
after asking numerous Priests, Bishops, Deacons and Seminarians about
why we intercede to Saints and give so much importance to St. Mary, I
am now more knowledgable on the subject. I wrote an article in my
church's silver jubilee Souvenir, entitled, "The Blessed Woman, Our
Patron Saint: St. Mary." I want to include several excerpts (most of
the article) from that article in this writing.
Many people think that the Orthodox, Catholic, etx. faiths are
worshipping Mary..."But when we intercede to St. Mary, we are not
worshipping her, for only God is worthy of being worshipped, but we
are asking her to pray for us while she is in Heaven praising God
also. A lot of people also say that there is no need to have anything
special set aside for St. Mary, for she only bore the Lord, and that
is nothing special; but to bear the Lord is above all else in this
world. The Almighty God would not have chosen this weak, sinful,
virgin woman to bear the Savior if she was not worthy."
"St. Mary is a model for what we should become in Christ. She was
unconditionally obedient to God. St. Mary led a life of celibacy, and
though this is not the ideal life for a Christian, her spiritual
purity, her wholehearted devotion to God, all this is worthy of being
called Blessed and emulated. While we pray to her, we are honoring
that she is the first to receive our Lord and also it signifies out
view of who Jesus is. In the Orthodox tradition, mainly Greek, they
call her, Theotokos, which literally translates to `God-bearer.' This
points to the face that her Son is both fully man and God, because
she bore Him, making him part human, and the Holy Spirit conceived
her, which makes Him part Godly. We see her before any saint, and
even the angel Gabriel has said, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the
Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" (Luke 1:28). Another
evidence of her worthiness is with Elizabeth, who spoke, "Blessed are
you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is
this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"
(Luke 1:42, 43). Mary also herself said that everyone will honor her
for generations to come, for she said, "For behold, henceforth all
generations will call me blessed" (Like 1:48).
As we clearly see, God has intended for us to honor Mary, and
therefore we honor her in any way we can. We ask her, as the first
believer and the mother of the Church, for guidance and protection.
We venerate her, but we do not worship her, for worship belongs to
We pray, `Hail Mary, Full of Grace,' in Malayalam, `Krupa Niranje
Mariame Ninakku Samadhanam,' or in Syriac, `Shlom lekh bthoolto
Mariam, Maliath taibootho.' We recite this prayer at every common
prayer, and we do not do any prayer without this. We are blessed to
have her as our Patron Saint, and we ask you, O St. Mary, pray for
us, guide us and protect us."
I hope that my article is sufficient to give Honor to our St. Mary,
mother of our Lord. Let us intercede to St. Mary, to pray for our
weak and sinful souls, so her son, our Lord Jesus, will have Mercy.
God Bless you all always and at this feast time.