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Comparative Theology, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III

37- Venerating the Virgin Mary


It suffices to mention the Virgin's words which are recorded in the Holy Bible: "For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed" (Lk.1: 48). The phrase "all generations" means that venerating the Virgin is a universal dogma which commenced at the Nativity of the Lord Jesus Christ and will continue until the end of ages.

Some of the venerations of the Virgin Mary are recorded in the Holy Bible. For example Elizabeth, who was about the same age as saint Maryís mother, said to her: "But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy" (Lk1: 43,44). What amazes us here in the Virgin's greatness is that when Elizabeth heard her greeting, she "was filled with the Holy Spirit" (Lk1: 41). The mere hearing of the Virgin's voice caused Elizabeth to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Image: Saint Mariam image صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: لوحة للقديسة العذراء مريم Image: Saint Mariam image

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: لوحة للقديسة العذراء مريم

Not only did the Virgin receive veneration from the human race but she also received it from the angels, and we have discussed this issue before here on in other pages. This is clear from Angel Gabrielleís greeting to her. He said: "Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" (Lk.1: 28) The phrase "Blessed are you among women" was repeated by Elizabeth in her greeting to the Virgin Mary (Lk.1: 42). In addressing Virgin Mary, Archangel Gabriel used more glorious and venerating manner of speech, more than what was used for Zacharias the priest (Lk1: 13).

There are many prophecies in the Holy Bible that refer to the Virgin Mary. Among them are "At Your right hand stands the Queen" (Ps.45: 9). The Divine Inspiration also says of her: "The royal daughter is all glorious within" (Ps.45: 13). Therefore, the Virgin is the Queen and the daughter of the King. That is why the Coptic Church, in all the icons of the Virgin Mary, portrays her as a crowned queen and places her at the right hand of the Lord Jesus Christ, glory be to Him.

The Church, in her hymns, praises the Virgin, saying: "Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all" (Prov.31:29).

St. Mary the Virgin was the desire of all generations. She is the one whose Offspring was able to "bruise the Serpent's head", thus fulfilling God's first promise of saving man (Gen.3: 15).

As the Virgin is the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ, so all the titles of the Lord can be attributed to her motherhood.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the true Light (John.1: 9). He said of Himself. "I am the light of the world" (John.8: 12) Therefore, His mother the Virgin is the Mother of Light or the Mother of the True Light.

Since Christ is the Holy One (Lk.1: 35), thus the Virgin is the Mother of the Holy One.

Since Christ is the Saviour, as it was said to the shepherds:

"For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord" (Lk.2: 11), and since His name is Jesus, that is, 'Saviour', because "He will save His people from their sins", therefore the Virgin is the Mother of the Saviour.

Since Christ is God (1John.1); (Rom.9: 5); (John.20: 28), therefore the Virgin is the Mother of God.

Since Christ is the Lord, according to Elizabeth's words to the Virgin Mary: "the mother of my Lord" (Lk1: 43), therefore the Virgin is the Mother of the Lord. In the same way, she is the Mother of Emmanuel (Matt.1: 24) and the Mother of the Word Incarnate (John1: 14).

If the Virgin Mary is the Mother of Christ, then unquestionably, she is the spiritual mother of all Christians. It suffices that when the Lord Jesus Christ was on the cross, He said to St. John, the beloved Apostle, of her: "Behold your mother!" (John.19: 27) If the Virgin is mother to St. John who addresses us, saying: "My little children" (1John.2: 1), therefore she is the mother of us all. Consequently, the title "our sister" is not welcomed and does not deserve a reply because it is unacceptable and illogical to consider the mother of Christ the sister of His children who believe in His name!

Whoever venerates the Virgin is in effect venerating Christ Himself. If to honour one's mother is the first commandment with a promise (Eph.6: 2); (Ex.20: 12); (Deut.5: 16), should we not venerate our mother the Virgin, the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ and the mother of the Apostles? The Virgin is the one to whom the angel said: " The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God" (Lk1: 35). She is the one who was praised by Elizabeth who said: "Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfilment of those things which were told her from the Lord" (Lk.1: 45).

The phrase 'Blessed are you among women', which was said by Angel Gabriel and by St. Elizabeth, means that if the Virgin is compared with all the women of the world she will be the blessed one because none of the women of the world received the glory which she had received through the Divine Incarnation. Undoubtedly, God chose our Lady the Virgin from among all women, because no other woman has ever had the Virgin's qualities. This shows her exaltation and elevated position. That is why Isaiah the Prophet named her 'a cloud' in his prophecy of the Flight into Egypt (Is. 19: 1).

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