Addressing the Dormition St.
John of Damascus extols Mary thus: No, you were not merely like Elijah taken up to heaven; you were not like Paul transported to the third heaven. Rather, you reached the very throne of your Son, in immediate vision, in joy, and you remain at his side with great and unspeakable security.
For the angels and for all the powers that rule the world, you are ineffable happiness: for the patriarchs, endless delight; for the just, inexpressible joy: for the prophets, perpetual exultation. Speaking of the Yaroslavi Virgin of Tenderness we hear St. Gregory of Nyssa say: According to the reliable testimony of the Word, the Bride is a wellspring of living water whose current descends from Lebanon.
Who could ever fully express the marvels set forth by this comparison? It would seem impossible to elevate her any further, since she resembles every aspect of Beauty's archetypal form. Historical And Liturgical Perspectives Because the Eastern Churches have no comprehensive historical record of the veneration of Mary, our observations are limited. The first liturgical expression of Marian veneration is found in the "concomitant" feasts, the celebrations attached to the major feasts of Christ.
Most likely the first Marian feast in the Byzantine calendar was the Synaxis, December 26 , which is directly connected with the Nativity of Jesus Christ. Originally the name given to the Sunday before Christmas was Annunciation. These facts point to the Christological basis of the veneration of Mary. The Byzantine Church contemplated Mary within the mystery of the Incarnation. This Christological dimension is still evident today in the chief Byzantine icon, which portrays Mary as the Mother with the Child, an icon of Incarnation. The temple and its sacred furnishings are understood by Byzantine hymnographers and preachers as announcing the various dimensions of the mystery of Mary.
In this context the non-biblical feasts, like the Nativity of the Virgin and the Presentation into the Temple, are considered basically as the fruit of a particular reading and understanding of the Old Testament. In tracing the history of Byzantine Marian piety we find that it is rooted not in any special revelation, but primarily in the experience of liturgical worship.
Theological reflection on Mary did not give rise to her veneration.
This veneration sprang from the liturgy as the experience of "heaven on earth," as communion with heavenly realities, as an act of love and devotion, that gradually revealed the unique place of Christ's Mother in both the economy of salvation and the mystery of the "world to come. But communion with Christ reveals Mary as the secret joy within the Church.
States a Byzantine hymn, "In her rejoices the whole creation! In the mystical area of time beyond time, Jesus' redeeming act and one's being redeemed are going on together now—this day, hour, minute. When one is praying with the Church, one is not praying a memory of an event: rather, one is living the dynamics of the event with that special awareness that recognizes the presence of the Lord. A liturgical action has no isolated intrinsic meaning.
Neither can theology be appealed to for a definition or rational explanation of a single sign or action, because Eastern Christian theology describes rather than defines the reality of salvation. The Eastern Church resists attempts to define meaning piecemeal by analyzing elements of liturgy.
After his death on 15 February , his journal of spiritual retreats was found to contain a copy in his handwriting of the account that he had requested of Margaret Mary, together with a few reflections on the usefulness of the devotion. Joseph Laetare Sunday Palm Sunday. Book Description Ave Maria Press, I: From the Begin. Cancel Forgot your password? An image of the Sacred Heart that has been blessed, either a statue or a picture, is then placed in the home as a reminder. Linked Data More info about Linked Data.
Eastern Christian worship must be comprehended holistically, and liturgical actions recognized as pointing beyond themselves to a greater reality in which the Christian participates when worshipping. In the Eastern and Byzantine world the cultic, liturgical origin of Mariology possesses special importance for the understanding of its true nature and theological implications.
Mary is not the object of a cult added to that of Jesus Christ. Rather she is an essential dimension of the cult addressed to God and Christ, a quality of that cult. This is the primary and soteriological dimension of her veneration by the Church. The Byzantine Church concentrates in Mary the whole biblical vision and experience of the relationship between God and creation, the Savior and the world, as a mystery of love whose closest expression in "this world" is the man-woman relationship.
God loves the world; God loves the chosen people; Christ loves the Church as the husband loves his wife. More precisely, the mystery of human love reflects the mystery of God's love for his creation. Mary stands for the femininity of creation itself. Her femininity means responding love, obedience, self-giving, the readiness to live exclusively in and for the Other.
The woman responds to the initiative of man and follows him, and in this total self-giving she fulfills herself. Eve failed to be woman because she took the initiative: she distorted the order of creation and became the cause of sin. The chosen people of God failed to be the handmaid of the Lord in love and obedience. But Mary, by her total obedience, restores something absolutely essential in the order of creation. She is not the representative of the woman or women before God. Mary is the icon of the entire creation as response to Christ and to God.
The traditional icon of Mary "wider than heaven" expresses well this notion; it is often found in the apse of Byzantine churches. In the East the Church is not only an institution or community, but also sacrament in the sense of being the epiphany of the events of salvation. In this context, liturgy is not the way in which the community expresses its faith but is the participation of those who believe in the timeless reality of salvific events. The Church is institution and the Church is life.
Since the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, Western ecclesiology has dwelt mainly on the institutional aspect of the Church. These canonical and organizational aspects are necessary and essential for the Church.
All this, however, is not the Church. The Church is new life in Christ, new joy, communion, love, deification, peace.
The Church is an eternal passage from the old into the new, from this world into the Kingdom of God. This life is difficult to define, but those who live it, no matter how imperfectly, know Mary is its perfect expression, its very movement. As heart of the new creation, Mary is the icon of Christ, the Bride of the Bridegroom, as is the Church.
No ecclesiastical authority has decreed this. The living experience of the Church herself discovers this identification of the Church with Mary, and expresses the life of the Church in reference to Mary, and the veneration of Mary in reference to the Church. The devotion of the Byzantine Church is Mariological because Mary is the very embodiment of that piety, its image, its direction, its movement.
In this classic text in the field of Marian scholarship, Hilda Graef provides a look at the place of Mary in the Church, and a chronological overview of the history of Marian studies. Graef's classic and clinical compendium of the Virgin Mary's place throughout Christian history has been updated for the post-Vatican II set and remains a.
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