Sunday, March 15, 2015

Attempts of Ico­no­clasts to Les­sen The Glory of the Queen of Hea­ven;They are put to shame. By Fr. Serap­him Rose

After the third Ecu­me­ni­cal Coun­cil chri­sti­ans in Con­stan­ti­nople and in other pla­ces began more fer­vently hasten to the inter­ces­sions of the Mot­her of God and their hopes in Her inter­ces­sions were not vain. She mani­fe­sted Her help to innu­me­rable sick people, help­less people and those in mis­fortune. 

Many times she appea­red as defen­der of Con­stan­ti­nople against outward ene­mies, once even showing in visible fas­hion to St. Andrew the Fool for Christ Her won­drous Pro­tection over the people who were praying at night in the Temple of Blachernae.

The Queen of Hea­ven gave victory in batt­les to the Byzan­tine Emper­ors, which is why they had the custom to take with them in their campaigns Her Icon of Hodi­gi­tria (Guide). She strengt­he­ned asce­tics and zea­lots of Chri­stian life in their battle against human pas­sions and weak­nes­ses. 

She enligh­te­ned and instructed the Fat­hers and Tea­chers of the Church ’ inclu­ding St. Cyril of Ale­xan­dria him­self when he was hesi­tat­ing to ack­now­ledge the inno­cence and san­ctity of St. John Chryso­stom. The Most Pure Vir­gin pla­ced hymns in the mouths of the com­po­sers of church hymns, some­ti­mes making renow­ned sin­gers out of the untalen­ted who had no gift of song, but who were pious labo­rers, such as St. Roma­nus the Sweet-Singer (the Melo­dist). 

Is it there­fore sur­pri­sing that Chri­sti­ans strove to mag­nify the name of their con­stant Inter­ces­sor? In Her honor feasts were establis­hed, won­drous songs were dedi­ca­ted to her and her Ima­ges were revered.

The malice of the prince of this world armed the sons of apost­asy once more to raise battle against Imma­nuel and His Mot­her in this same Con­stan­ti­nople, which reve­red now as Ephe­sus had pre­viously, the Mot­her of God as its Inter­ces­sor. Not daring at first to speak openly against the Cham­pion Gene­ral, they wis­hed to les­sen Her glo­ri­fi­ca­tion by for­bid­ding the vene­ra­tion of the Icons of Christ and His saints, cal­ling this idol-worship. 

The Mot­her of God now also strengt­he­ned zea­lots of piety in the battle for the vene­ra­tion of Ima­ges, mani­festing many signs from Her Icons and hea­ling the seve­red hand of St. John of Dama­scus who had writ­ten in defence of the Icons.

The per­secu­tion against the vene­ra­tors of Icons and Saints ended again in the victory and tri­umph of Ort­ho­doxy, for the vene­ra­tion given to the Icons ascends to those who are depi­cted in them; and the holy ones of God are vene­ra­ted as fri­ends of God for the sake of the Divine grace which dwelt in them in accor­dance with the words of the Psalm: “Most pre­cious to me are Thy fri­ends.” The Most Pure Mot­her of God was glo­ri­fied with spe­cial honor in hea­ven and on earth, and she even in the days of the mock­ing of the holy Icons mani­fe­sted through them so many won­drous mira­c­les that even today we remem­ber them with con­tri­tion. 

The hymn “In Thee All Cre­a­tion Rejoi­ces, 0 Thou Who Art Full of Grace,” and the Icon of the Three Hands remind us of the hea­ling of St. John Dama­s­cene before this Icon; the depi­ction of the Iveron Icon of the Mot­her of God reminds us of the mira­culous deli­ve­rance from ene­mies by this Icon, which had been thrown in the sea by a widow who was unable to save it.

No per­secu­tions against those who vene­ra­ted the Mot­her of God and all that is bound up with the memory of Her could les­sen the love of Chri­sti­ans for their Inter­ces­sor. The rule was establis­hed that every series of hymns in the Divine ser­vi­ces should end with a hymn or verse in honor of the Mot­her of God (the so-called “Theo­tokia”). Many times in the year Chri­sti­ans in all cor­ners of the world gat­her toget­her in church, as before they gat­he­red toget­her, to pra­ise Her, to thank Her for the bene­fa­ctions She has shown and to beg mercy.

But could the adver­s­ary of Chri­sti­ans, the devil, who goeth about roa­ring like a lion seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8), remain an indif­fe­rent specta­tor to the glory of the Imma­cu­late One? Could he ack­now­ledge him­self as defe­a­ted, and cease to wage war­fare against the truth through men who do his will? 

And so, when all the uni­verse reso­un­ded with the good news of the Faith of Christ, when eve­rywhere the name of the Most Holy One was invo­ked, when the earth was fil­led with chur­ches, when the hou­ses of Chri­sti­ans were ador­ned with Icons depi­cting her, then there appea­red and began to spread a new false tea­ching about the Mot­her of God. This false tea­ching is dan­gerous in that many can­not imme­di­a­tely under­stand to what degree it under­mi­nes the true vene­ra­tion of the Mot­her of God.

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