On Saint Mary
We reached the top of the ladder to St Mary. We stared with the first Hos [Canticle] which is about repentance. The second Hos is about thanksgiving because after repentance we thank the Lord for liberating us from our sins. Then we move to the third Hos, which is about tribulations that we are victorious over.
Now after being victorious, through the grace of God, and after conquering and defeating death we are at the top of the ladder, with the saints. They conquered death and started their eternal Life with the Lord and are in Paradise. We are face to face with them that’s why we ask their intercession. We come to the doxologies and commemoration of the Satins and to Hos 4 which is compromised of Psalms 148, 149, and 150. When praising the Lord we face important personalities: Jesus Christ in the Psalis and St Mary in Theotokias.
I’ll read a few verses about St Mary from the Book of Revelation chapter 12. This was a vision. 12:1 “Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun.” The sun is Jesus Christ, the Son of Righteousness. “....with the moon under her feet,” the moon is a symbol of John the Baptist. "Under her feet" doesn’t mean she’s treading upon him, no, it means she is above [in heavenly ranking terms] than John the Baptist. Jesus Christ referred to John as being great, and then came St Mary who superseded his rank. “…and on her head a garland of twelve stars” these being the 12 apostles.
12:2 “Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth 12:3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.” This is the devil, who is bloody and always angry. Seven heads means perfection is thinking up evil. Horns are for knocking because he tries to hurt and knock everyone down. The seven diadems are because he is the prince of the world. 12:4 “His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.” A third of the stars of heaven that were thrown down are the fallen angels that feel with the devil. 12:5 “She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. 12:6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness,” Here the woman is not just St Mary, it is the church. “….. where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.” One thousand two hundred and sixty days is 3 ½ years, which is half of seven that is perfection, so this number refers to a temporary situation. 12:7 “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 12:8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.”
St Mary, in our Church, has many titles that can form a chain. We will select 5 of them tonight. Our church loves St Mary as you see in the Tasbeha.
The first is Mother of All Saints. The second is the Ever Virgin. The third is the Second Heaven because she had God inside, wherever God exists it is heaven. The fourth title is the Mother of God, in Greek Theotokos not Christotokos. Nestor called her Christotokos, human Christ not divine; he separated humanity from divinity. The last is Honest Intercessor who intercedes on our behalf.
When I say Mother of All Saints I’m referring to her sanctification. This is the basic cornerstone of St Mary. She was sanctified by Holy Spirit; she lived a pure, saintly, righteous life throughout, from her childhood until her passing to heaven. Sanctification is a basic cornerstone in our life. Holiness simply means possessed by God, separated for God. "Agios" in Greek, "Kadesh" in Hebrew mean someone separated for God. When a shepherd gave one tenth of his flock to the Lord in the OT it was referred to as “owned by the Lord.” Same with the priests in the OT, they had a head cover and a label on it: "Holy for God," "Possessed by God," "Owned by God." He is God’s person, belonging to God. That’s why when the Pope or Anba Serapion, sanctify the altar with Holy Myoon, it is so it can only be used for the sacraments, the same applies to the utensils. They cannot be used for any other goal like drinking water, etc. Even deacons can’t touch them, because they were sanctified.
You were also sanctified with Holy Myroon at a very young age. You had 36 crosses put on your body. Why 36? Three by twelve: 3 for the Trinity, 12 for apostles. Therefore, I am through the Trinity going to be a disciple of the Lord. First cross on the head, so the Holy Spirit can sanctify the mind. (Visual demonstration) Sanctify my senses (7 total). The ninth and tenth annointments sanctify my heart. The eleventh and twelfth are on the back representing the will. Then there's a set of twelve on the joints to sanctify my deeds. And lastly a third set of twelve on the legs to sanctify my way. Long ago we learned a song: “Jesus Christ Our Lord Savior of My Soul, let my thoughts be Your thoughts that is all in all, …..My senses, …..My Will, ….My Deeds, ….My Way.” Imagine Henry has holy thoughts, holy will, holy deeds, and holy way, he’ll be considered a saint. This is what the Church means when it puts on us these crosses – for us to be a sanctuary.
We shift to the second title: Ever Virgin. Ever Virgin does not mean physical virginity, we mean spiritual virginity. If there’s a celibate but has no spiritual life, this is not the same. That’s why even if you’re married you can preserve your spiritual virginity because it means not tied to anything or anybody other than God. Adultery (spiritually) is brokent down into the following parts: Ad means two, alter means alternative, so I’m giving myself to another person it could be the world, the devil, a special sin, or money. St Mary never married but she led a celibate life; she had agreed with St Joseph the carpenter on this lifestyle. That is why she questioned the angel when he announced her conception with Christ. The Angel said to her the Holy Spirit will descend so she had physical and spiritual virginity. When Jesus Christ was on the Cross, He gave her to St John. As St Augustine said, the celibate Son gave his celibate Mother to a celibate disciple to continue her celibate life comfortably. We understand her body is in heaven because she carried Christ yet she’s an Ever Virgin, in Ezekiel: "the door through which God entered will be shut forever."
The third title is Second Heaven. When we draw St Mary’s icons she wears a blue head cover, why? Heaven. She’s standing, not sitting and carrying her baby on her left shoulder, why? As the Bible says, "The Queen stood at the right had of the King." Yes she can sit for sure, but it’s one of the formal poses of St Mary. We are now in second heaven. Where God dwells it is heaven. Washington DC is the capital because the president is there. So when God dwells in certain person, it is heaven. We can all be second heaven, as long as we eat His body and drink His body we abide in Him, so we can also be second heaven. Therefore we will be transformed to be 2nd heaven. The kingdom of God is inside you.
Mother of God, Theotokos. The baby was not only man or not only God. He is divinity plus humanity united together in one nature out of two natures. Elizabeth cried out and said, “….the mother of my Lord.” She knew through the Holy Spirit that He was not just an ordinary baby but also God. That’s why St John the Baptist knelt even though he was still an embryo. If it was only human, and God comes and leaves (as Nestor heretically taught), then we have no unity between humanity and divinity then we can’t say Theotokos. During the time of St Cyril the Great, we added we "Magnify you Theotokos" to the Creed. How do we benefit from this? We are all the sons and daughters of God. [Song] "Sons of God, Hear His holy name, Gather around the table of the Lord, eat His body, drink His blood, and we’ll sing a song of Love." We are the sons and daughters of God. That’s why we say, “Our Father who art in Heaven.” In other religions God is not a Father, but in Christianity God is in the highest, but He was incarnate and became Immanuel (God with us). After redemption on the cross He became "God in us." "I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me." This is the miracle, honor, privilege of Christianity. I will abide in Him and He will abide in me.
I read a book about a princess in Pakistan called Bilkis. She read something in Christianity and realized that God is a Father not a revengeful Being. "God is My Father" is the title of her book (in Arabic); she converted to Christianity because of this fact. God is in us and is our Father.
Lastly, she is the honest intercessor. Everyone throughout all the ages interceded and asked her intercession. She is a powerful intercessor. Pope Kirollos the 6th used to give the problems to the saints to solve them. One night people came to present problems to him. He said, “By night it is fire, in the morning it is ashes,” and continued “Don’t worry my children.” In the morning he gave the [church] altars different problems and he asked the priests to pray the liturgies. St Mina has a horse so he solved his problems quickly. Then the people would come to tell him that the problem is solved. Then the Pope would call them to sing glorifications to the Saint, but he’d feel embarrassed that they’re not praising St Mary. So he’d tell them to also include St Mary in the glorifciation. By the time they finish the praises they find out that the problem assigned to St Mary was solved, so they would praise them all.
Let me tell you, those of us who are sharp/smart will take St Mary as his/her patron saint. Why? Because then she can deploy the saints according to the problems. That person now has the Mother of All Saints, the Honest Intercessor of human kind on his/her side.
Let us ask the intercession of St Mary, she can answer many of your prayers and solve many of our problems through the power of our God.