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“All wives are blessed through Her”: as they wrote about the Nativity of the Virgin from Proclus of Constantinople to Dimitry Smirnov

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“All wives are blessed through Her”: as they wrote about the Nativity of the Virgin from Proclus of Constantinople to Dimitry Smirnov

“The beginning of our salvation” – as the Church calls the day of the Nativity of the Virgin, September 21. Jesus, the son of Mary, saved us – but He could not have done this without Mary’s consent to the Incarnation, for He does nothing without human freedom. To let the Creator into the world, she needed One that was perfect enough.

It is always interesting to learn about beloved saints how and when they lived, what they were, how they were glorified. But little is known about the Virgin. In the New Testament very little is said about Her, but Her Christmas is not mentioned at all. The feast of the Nativity of the Virgin is established on the basis of the events described in the Proto-Gospel of James, apocrypha of the 2nd century. You can read the text of “The Gospel of James” in our “Tradition”, or you can listen to how it is read in the film “The Nativity of the Virgin (Giotto to Bondone)” from the cycle “Bible story”. One of the frescoes by Giotto do Bondone in the chapel del Arena in Padua depicts the appearance of the angel St. Anne, the mother of Mary. The story of unusual for its time paintings, poems by Dante, who was a friend of Giotto, history, beautiful music – all this is in the film.

Virgin Mary is revered throughout the Christian world. But how different! Catholic Madonnas and Orthodox Mother of God icons seem to exist in parallel universes. This is the subject of the article by Professor Vladimir Lossky, “The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception,” from the collection “In the image and likeness”. This is not about the virgin conception of Jesus Christ, in this matter we are in solidarity. But that in the Catholic Church there is a Dogma on the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The Mother of God has been granted special grace from the mother’s womb. She is free from original sin in order to be worthy of the immaculate vessel that the Divine Word needed. The Orthodox Church has never allowed such an interpretation. If She was predestinated to become the Mother of the Messiah, then where is Her free will? Why did the Archangel Gabriel come? If God separated Her in a special way from all the descendants of Adam, then for what mankind traveled a path that was a messianic expectation before Christ, for God is able to choose any person at any time and cleanse him as it should.

Sermons will help to understand how the eternal meaning of the holiday is refracted in our time and in our private life. For example, Father Superior Melchizedek (Artyukhin) says that the work of our salvation begins with the great patience of Joachim and Anna, who were merciless for 50 years. Any human deed is not quick. Father Melchizedek discusses daily labor, the multiplication of love and the grace of humility.

Archpriest Dimitry Smirnov recalls that on the day of the Nativity of the Virgin on September 8, 1380, the Battle of Kulikovo took place. And as our salvation began on this day, so the victory of Dimitri Donskoy became the beginning of the establishment of the unity of Russia, the first step towards overthrowing the yoke. Only one thing could unite disparate principalities and lead them into battle – the Orthodox faith. If not for that victory over Mamai, there would be neither Russia, nor all that our country is proud of. There is the beginning of heavenly salvation, here is the beginning of earthly salvation.

"All festivities in honor of the saints are respectable, and are likened to the sparkle of stars." So begins the "Commendable word to the Virgin" by Proclus of Constantinople, which contains, perhaps, the first mention of the holiday. “All the memories of the saints are glorified. But nothing equals glory with real triumph. ” The text refers to various biblical events, patriarchs, kings and prophets, about each couple of words, but very capacious and accurate, so when you see a familiar name, you seem to flip through the Bible. Their deeds are great, but "they all saw Christ only in fortune-telling, and She wore in the womb of the Incarnate."

“Run through the earth, inspect the sea, explore the air, deepen your thoughts in heaven, experience all the invisible forces, and tell me, is there another similar miracle in the creatures?”

These are not poems, at least in the Russian translation, but it sounds very poetic, easy and joyful. Bible wives are also not deprived of attention.

“All wives are blessed through Her: their race is no longer subject to oath, and even surpasses the glory of the Angels.”

Such words can be a great comfort to every woman.

On the thematic page of the Nativity of the Virgin, you can also find a poetic sermon on the meaning of the holiday and listen to the performance of the kondak with a famous chant.

Prepared by Natalia Schukina

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