This time, before the vesper, I came to the Most-Pure Virgin’s righteous parents to give them a bow and to ask them to pray for me to their Daughter, Godbride Theotokos. Still, let us return to the divine service.
At the very first stichera, at the first words of the festal chant, I was pulled up with the following words: “Today God who rests on the thrones of wisdom has prepared a throne on earth for himself” (1st stichera on «Lord, I have cried…»)
It happens sometimes that any sort of words just seem to be coming to life… You experience their inner sense so clearly… Just like you taste it, like you are taking part in what is happening. Before now you were listening but you didn’t hear… The same was with these words before, but now they came alive… And these words determine the main subject of the holiday and for this reason are very important.
What is happening now? The future Mother of God is born. Since everything in this world is performed by the power and will of God, the present birth is also His deed. But the Nativity of This Child has extremely important purpose that is why the part of the Divine power is extraordinary: God Himself, by His special grace given to the infertile parents, creates them a transcendent Daughter.
Though this is not really about the greatness of the Lord for it is perfectly easy for Him to work wonders; He called the whole world to existence from nothingness. Now, other thing is astonishing: not the greatness of power but the infinity of humbling.
Let us feel into the wise words of Church: God… The Most Peaceful… The Most Supreme… Inconceivable… The Spirit… Living in Its inaccessible world. “Resting” on heavenly hosts – archangels and angels…
So, the most supreme Existence of all the supreme! And He, the Most Supreme, is now “preparing” to “move” from Heaven to the earth… He deigned to incarnate… to assume the look of a slave (look of a slave is a weak condition of human nature). And to suffer in future.
But this all is forward, and the beginning is: “to leave” Heaven. To diminish… To humble… “God slides to poverty…” Of course, these are vivid expressions.
So, in advance He prepares for Himself a way of humbling, a place to reside, a throne of embodiment. Or, according to paroemia, Counsel is preparing for Itself a new “house” – Blessed Virgin.
What a sacrifice of humbling in the embodiment! God sacrifices His most peaceful existence to become mundane-like. The Spirit creates Itself the flesh…
Maybe it is already known, some will say. Yes, it is known for the mind; but the experience of this verity, the clear vision of it is not always given.
Now me, the most undeserving, was given to experience it by the heart, or to perceive, to understand it in reality, to take it to my soul. Now this was discovered by my soul; though that words were known before, their content was closed, sealed.
I saw clearly both immensity of “wasting” and its sacrificial nature.
Indeed, this is the sacrifice of God! And He begins to prepare this sacrifice in advance: He makes Himself a Mother for the embodiment…
Really we need to exclaim: You are “God of wonders!” ” (1st stichera on «Lord, I have cried…»)
O Lord, marvellous are Thy works!
Mother… of God!
What about this? Isn’t it amazing? We are so got used to the words like this that we mostly do not feel all that power. At least now we consider this as much as we can for this is addressed to the matter of the holiday.
Mother… of God…
Again let us feel all immeasurable, superior greatness of God.
Isn’t He in need of a mother?
And suddenly… God has a Mother… What an astonishing event!
Again, I was given to feel this so fair, to “understand” it on this holiday…
God has a Mother… And this is chanted by the Church at the same stichera “Lord, I have cried…”
Verily, “God of wonders”!
At the second stichera, which is repeated after the vigil at three places (“This is the day of the Lord…”), I was pulled up with the word about the Theotokos – “Alone”.
She is already awaiting the arrival of “Christ into the inhabited earth”. She is preparing to bring (“to admit”) Him into the world… She is one and only: “She alone admits Christ into the inhabited earth…” Verily, One and Only!
A woman who became… Mother of God!
Just fancy! If only we could experience this fact, well known by everyone: blessed Virgin is the Mother of God…
Yet, over and over one wants to speak this word:
I wish to see it, or, better, see Her Herself. We can see the essence in names; and the name is powerful, meaningful, and efficient due to this essence! Otherwise, it will be a mere name.
It was given to us in order to understand in part, and only this! This was that we needed to understand on the Minor Mistress’s Holiday.
To see Her with the spirit as the Theotokos, Mother of God.
And when you see it with the heart, it will immediately and obviously be clear that because of it She is really One and Only. “Only she is called the Theotokos” (1st aposticha)
Oh, how difficult is it to deliver by words what the heart sees!
And how clear it sees!
All the main joy, on this day of Mary’s birth, is based on that She is the Theotokos, that She served for the embodiment of Christ the Savior, the son of God. And the light of this holiday is reflected upon the Nativity of Theotokos, as the sun is reflected in the moon.
Partly we needed to speak of the virginity in order to confirm the fact of Her everlasting virginity after Christmas Day, for She was virgin before the Christmas.
Let us finish with the blessing to inbred Christ, “We worship Him and praise the birth of the Virgin.” (“Both now”, aposticha)
Taken from: Metropolite Veniamin (Fedchenkov). From Nativity of the Blessed Virgin to Candlemas. M., 2008.
Translated from Russian by Kira Stebunova
Edited by Yana Samuel