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Comparative Theology, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III
42- Is It Correct to Pray to the Virgin?
We do not pray to the Virgin but we address her when we pray and entreat her to intercede for us. Not only do we address the Virgin, but we also address the angels, nature, people, ourselves and even the Devil. This is based on written texts from the Divine Inspiration and is not considered prayer. Why should we not address our mother the Virgin in particular?
(1) We address the angels when we pray, saying: “Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word. Bless the Lord, all you His hosts, you ministers of His, who do His pleasure” (Ps.103: 20,21) and “Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; praise Him, all His hosts!” (Ps.148: 1,2)
(2) We address nature in our prayer, saying: “Praise Him, sun and moon; praise Him, all you stars of light! Praise Him you heavens of heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for He commanded and they were created. Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all the depths; fire and hail, snow and clouds; stormy wind, fulfilling His word; mountains and all hills; fruitful trees and all cedars” (Ps.148: 3-9).
(3) We address the holy city of God and ask her to praise the Lord, saying: “Praise the Lord, 0 Jerusalem! Praise your God, 0 Zion! For He has strengthened the bars of your gates; He has blessed your children within you” (Ps.147: 12,13). In another psalm we say: “Glorious things are spoken of you, 0 city of God!” (Ps.87: 3)
(4) We address people in our prayer, saying: “Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph!” (Ps.47: 1), “Come, behold the works of the Lord, who has made desolations in the earth” (Ps.46: 8), “Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help” (Ps.146: 3) and? “Bless the Lord, all His works, in all places of His dominion” (Ps.103: 22). In another psalm, we say: “Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord!” (Ps.113: 1). And we also say: “Give unto the Lord, O you mighty ones, give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Ps.29: 1,2).
(5) Also, the worshipper addresses himself, saying: “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy, name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that our youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Ps.103: 1-5). In another psalm, the worshipper prays: “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why, are you disquieted within me? Hope in God” (Ps.42: 5). In the Twelfth Hour Prayer, the worshipper addresses himself, saying: “Repent, O my soul, as long as you are still dwelling on earth.”
(6) Moreover, in our prayer we address the evil spirits and all their powers, saying: “Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity; for the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer. Let all my enemies be ashamed and greatly troubled, let them turn back and be ashamed suddenly” (Ps.6: 8-10).
Do we pray to all these? Do we pray to angels? Do we pray to nature, people and devils? God forbid! We address them in our prayer, and we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other pages. This is acceptable; it is a Biblical teaching and taken from the spirit of the Psalms which St. Paul the Apostle talked about, saying: “Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm” (1Cor.14: 26), “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph.5: 19) and “teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Col.3: 16).
As long as we address angels, nature, people, ourselves and devils in our prayers, according to the teaching of the Divine Inspiration, then it is not wrong to address our mother the Virgin whilst we pray and this is not considered prayer.
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