Monday, December 16, 2013

The First Ene­mies of the Vene­ra­tion of The Mot­her of God by Father Seraphim Rose

THE MORE the faith of Christ spread and the Name of the Saviour of the world was glo­ri­fied on earth, and toget­her with Him also She Who was vou­chs­a­fed to be the Mot­her of the God-Man,-the more did the hatred of the ene­mies of Christ increase towards Her. Mary was the Mot­her of Jesus. She mani­fe­sted a hit­herto unheard-of example of purity and righ­teo­us­ness, and furt­her­more, now depar­ted from this life, She was a mighty sup­port for Chri­sti­ans, even. though invi­sible to bodily eyes. There­fore all who hated Jesus Christ and did not believe in Him, who did not under­stand His tea­ching, or to be more pre­cise, did not wish to under­stand as the Church under­stood, who wis­hed to replace the prea­ching of Christ with their own human reasonings-all of these trans­fer­red their hatred for Christ, for the Gospel and the Church, to the Most Pure Vir­gin Mary. They wis­hed to belittle the Mot­her, so as the­reby to destroy faith also in Her Son, to cre­ate a false pic­ture of Her among men in order to have the opportu­nity to rebu­ild the whole Chri­stian tea­ching on a dif­fe­rent foun­da­tion. In the womb of Mary, God and man were joi­ned. She was the One Who ser­ved as it were as the lad­der for the Son of God, Who des­cen­ded from hea­ven. To strike a blow at Her vene­ra­tion means to strike Chri­sti­a­nity at the root, to destroy it in its very foundation.
And the very begin­ning, of Her hea­venly glory was mar­ked on earth by an out­burst of malice and hatred toward Her by unbe­lie­vers. When, after Her holy repose, the Apost­les were car­rying Her body for burial in Get­h­se­mane, to the place cho­sen by her, John the The­o­lo­gian went ahead car­rying the branch from para­dise which the Archan­gel Gabriel had brought to the Holy Vir­gin three days before this when he came from hea­ven to anno­unce to Her Her appro­a­ching depar­ture to the hea­venly mansions.
When Israel went out of Egypt, and the house of Jacob from among a bar­ba­rous people,” chan­ted St. Peter from Psalm 113; “Alle­luia,” sang the whole assem­bly of the Apost­les toget­her with their discip­les, as for example, Dio­ny­sius the Are­o­pagite, who likewise had been mira­culously trans­por­ted at that time to Jerus­a­lem. And while this sacred hymn was being sung, which was cal­led by the J ews the ” G reat Alle­luia, ” that is, the great “Pra­ise ye the Lord,” one Jewish pri­est, Atho­nius, lea­ped up to the bier and wis­hed to over­turn it and throw to the gro­und the body of the Mot­her of God.
The bra­zen­ness of Atho­nius was imme­di­a­tely punis­hed: the Archan­gel Michael with an invi­sible sword cut off his hand, which remai­ned han­ging on the bier. The thund­er­struck Atho­nius, expe­ri­en­cing a tormen­ting pain, in awa­re­ness of his sin, tur­ned in prayer to the Jesus Whom he had hated up to then and he was imme­di­a­tely hea­led. He did not delay in accep­ting Chri­sti­a­nity and con­fes­sing it before his for­mer co-religionists, for which he recei­ved from them a martyr’s death. Thus, the attempt to offend the honor of the Mot­her of God ser­ved for Her gre­a­ter glorification.
The ene­mies of Christ resol­ved not to mani­fest their lack of vene­ra­tion for the body of the Most Pure One furt­her at that time by crude vio­lence, but their malice did not cease. See­ing that Chri­sti­a­nity was spre­a­ding eve­rywhere, they began to spread various vile slan­ders about Chri­sti­ans. They did not spare the name of the Mot­her of Christ eit­her, and they inven­ted the story that Jesus of Naza­reth had come from a base and immoral environ­ment, and that His Mot­her had asso­ci­a­ted with a certain Roman soldier.
But here the lie was too evi­dent for this fiction to attract serious atten­tion. The whole family of Joseph the Betro­t­hed and Mary Her­self were known well by the inha­bi­tants of Naza­reth and the sur­ro­un­ding –coun­tryside in their time. Whence bath this man this wis­dom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mot­her cal­led Mary, and his bret­hren: James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? (Matt. 13:54–55; Mark 6:3; Luke 4:22.) So said His fel­low co­un­try­men in Naza­reth when Christ reve­a­led before them in the syna­gogue His other-worldly wis­dom. In small towns the family mat­ters of eve­ry­one are well known; very strict watch was kept then over the purity of mar­ried life.
Would people really have beha­ved with respect towards Jesus, cal­led Him to preach in the syna­gogue, if He had been born of ille­gi­ti­mate coha­bi­ta­tion? To Mary the law of Moses would have been applied, which com­man­ded that such per­sons be sto­ned to death; and the Pha­ri­sees would have taken the opportu­nity many times to repro­ach Christ for the con­duct of His Mot­her. But just the con­trary was the case. Mary enjoyed great respect; at Cana She was an honored guest at the wed­ding, and even when Her Son was con­dem­ned, no one allowed him­self to ridi­cule or cen­sure His Mother.

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