Mary: Hope of All Creation

September 8th
Nativity of Mary, the Mother of God

Nativity of Mary, the Mother of GodIt is the custom now for men, husbands in particular, to assist at the birth of their children.  They share with their wives something awesome and special, a wonderful moment, a miracle which defies description.   At one time of course, this moment belonged only to the Mothers, and the midwives and her female assistants, while the men waited anxiously for the news.

Those who have had the great joy to be present at a birth, liken it to being present in a Temple.   They have spoken about the moment of birth-giving with reverence, in words that might belong to a prayer.  Their account sounds more like a meditation about something profoundly holy, something too special.  They fear, lest saying too much about it, the wonder be lost, as if many words might defile the memory.

A great Philosopher said that the whole end of a thing, is contained in the beginning of the thing, as if by mystery.  Perhaps this is one of the truths we encounter as we witness birth?  All is potential, all is hopeful.  There is so much promise and joy, as we behold the child take their first breath, sense the light of day, enter a new way of living.  A new child is utterly pure, perfect, at peace with all the world, and all the world looks kindly upon the newborn.

For Mary, this is utterly true.  She is totally pure, perfect, at peace with the whole world.  On the day of her birth, she embodies the hope of all creation, and we look lovingly upon this newborn miracle.  It is a moment of hope, and of what potential!   What she is, wonderful as that is, will be made more wonderful by her stainless and all-pure life; her generous 'yes' to God's will; her divine maternity; her own passion and glorification.  If the philosopher is correct, then all that wonder is present here, in this humble beginning, this humble, yet glorious birth.

We who honor the Nativity of the Mother of God, celebrate a momentous day, when a wondrous chain of events was set in motion, which would lead to nothing less than our own Salvation.

Of course, Mary is an image of the whole human race, that is, of you and me.  She was called upon by God, to share in the wondrous work of the salvation of the world, by her holiness, by her purity, by her willingness to say 'yes' to God, offering herself to do God's will.   God took her offering, and made it infinitely glorious.

Let us call upon the Mother of God in prayer, that she might inspire in us a generous spirit.   Let us pray that God might purify us, make us holy, give us courage to say 'YES' to His will in all things, that He might make of our offering, something wonderful, a song of praise to his glory.  Then, will the promise of our own birth be fulfilled.

We stand among all those generations who call Mary, 'blessed'.  Let us rejoice in her holy nativity.  Let us glory in the mystery of God's love for his people.  Let us worship God who saves us through such a wonderful plan, present in hope and mystery at Mary's birth.   Let us give thanks, that simple men like you and me have been chosen to witness this blessed event.  A moment to treasure, a memory to enjoy, an occasion to celebrate, a reason to pray.

Your birth, O Virgin Mother of God,
heralded joy to the universe;
for from you rose the Sun of Justice, Christ our God.
He took away the curse.
He gave the blessing.
By trampling Death He gave us everlasting life
.

Written by a monk of the Byzantine Church.
Copyright ©1998 http://www.byzcath.org.


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Scripture

February 11, 2018
Forgiveness Sunday (Cheesefare)
- Matins: Mark 16:9-20 (Gospel 3)
- Liturgy: Romans 13:11b-14:4, Matthew 6:14-21

First Week of Great Lent
- Monday: Isaiah 1:1-20, Genesis 1:1-13, Proverbs 1:1-20
- Tuesday:Isaiah 1:19-2:3, Genesis 1:14-23, Proverbs 1:20-33
- Wednesday: Isaiah 2:3-11, Genesis 1:24-2:3, Proverbs 2:1-21
- Thursday: Isaiah 2:11-21, Genesis 2:4-19, Proverbs 3:1-19
- Friday: Isaiah 3:1-14, Genesis 2:20-3:20, Proverbs 3:19-34
- Saturday: Hebrews 1:1-12, Mark 2:23-3:5

February 18, 2018
First Sunday of Great Lent
Sunday of Orthodoxy
- Matins: Luke 24:1-12 (Gospel 4)
- Liturgy: Hebrews 11:24-26,32-12:2, John 1:43-51

Second Week of Great Lent
- Monday: Isaiah 4:2-6; 5:1-7, Genesis 3:21-4:7, Proverbs 3:34-4:22
- Tuesday: Isaiah 5:7-16, Genesis 4:8-15, Proverbs 5:1-15
- Wednesday: Isaiah 5:16-26, Genesis 4:16-26, Proverbs 5:15-6:3
- Thursday: Isaiah 6:1-12, Genesis 5:1-24, Proverbs 6:3-20
- Friday: Isaiah 7:1-14, Genesis 5:32-6:8, Proverbs 6:20-7:1
- Saturday: Hebrews 3:12-16, Mark 1:35-44 (and for All Souls, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, John 5:24-30)

February 25, 2018
Second Sunday of Great Lent
St. Gregory Palamas
- Matins: Luke 24:12-35 (Gospel 5)
- Liturgy: Hebrews 1:10-2:3, Mark 2:1-12 (and for St. Gregory, Hebrews 7:26-8:2, John 10:9-19)

Feasts & Fasts

February
2 - Encounter of Our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ with Simeon and Anna
3 - First All-Souls Saturday
4 - Sunday of the Second Coming of Christ (Meat-Fare)
11 - Forgiveness Sunday (Cheese-Fare)
12 - Beginning of the Holy Forty Days Fast
18 - First Sunday of the Great Fast (Sunday of Orthodoxy)
19 - Washington's Birthday (President's Day) (USA)
24 - Second All-Souls Saturday
25 - Second Sunday of the Great Fast (St. Gregory Palamas)

Please pray!

"They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword...." (Hebrews 11:37a)

Please lift up in prayer all those who are persecuted and deprived of liberty, everywhere in the world. Please especially remember the peoples of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Niger - the whole Middle East and Africa - who are literal martyrs for Christ. Also the peoples of Ukraine. They are our brothers, for all are one in Christ.

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Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life, drive away from me the spirit of despondency, carelessness, love of power, and idle chatter. (Prostration)

Rather grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love. (Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother; for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)

Random Proverb

"Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her." (Proverbs 8:10,11 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

A brother asked Abba Isidore the priest, "Why are the demons so frightened of you?" The old man said to him, "Because, ever since the day I began practicing ascesis, I have striven to prevent anger from reaching my lips."

The Desert Fathers