Wednesday, August 12, 2009

FATHERS: Mary, you hold him who upholds all


The Annunciation Hymn

of St Romanos the Melodist

Oikos 1

An Archangel was sent from heaven to cry “Rejoice!” to the Theotokos;

and, O Lord, as he saw you taking bodily form

at the sound of his bodiless voice,

he stood still in amazement

and cried out to her this:

Rejoice, through you joy will shine forth,

Rejoice, through you bondage will cease,

Rejoice, arising of fallen Adam,

Rejoice, release of weeping Eve,

Rejoice, height surpassing all human thought,

Rejoice, depth profoundly beyond angels’ sight,

Rejoice, for you furnish a kingly throne,

Rejoice, for you hold him who upholds all,

Rejoice, star from which the sun shines forth,

Rejoice, womb in which God takes on flesh,

Rejoice, through you creation is reborn,

Rejoice, through you we worship the Creator!

Rejoice, O Unmarried Bride!

[St Romanos, Ca 500 ad, translation by Frederica Mathewes-Green]


Few subjects bring about as much discord between pre and post reformation Christians as the subject of Mary. Unfortunately, most post-reformation Christians cannot differentiate between apostolic tradition and medieval tradition. In the hymn above we do not find an invention of the medieval church, such as purgatory, or Papal supremacy, or mandatory celibacy for clergy. Rather we find the piety of the patristic church of the fifth century. We find Christianity in the way of the apostles. These believers felt free to sing to Mary because they did not have a two story universe imposed upon us by the reformation and expanded upon by the enlightenment. A universe wherein those who have died in the Lord are removed from us by a great chasm. In fact, they felt free to sing to Mary because she was central to God’s incarnation and hence to his redemption of the world. To ignore Mary's role in redemption is to to belittle the fact that God saves us through other people giving themselves to God fully.

Rom 13: 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. 8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

Our heroes in the faith are not exempt from the above imperative, moreover, we should rejoice that can honor them. The only chasm between us and them is our worldview.

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