ONE @ 50: Theotokos — God-Bearer

In honor of ONE magazine’s 50th-anniversary year, the CNEWA blog series, ONE @ 50: From the Vault, aims to revive and explore the wealth of articles published in ONE magazine throughout its history. In this month of Mary, learn about how the veneration of Mary differs in the Eastern tradition from the Western tradition, originally published in Fall 1985.

Read an excerpt from “Theotokos: Birth Giver to God” below, then read the full story.

Twice a year, in May and October, Catholics turn to the Blessed Mother of God to offer her special homage. October is usually considered the month of the Rosary — that favorite devotion to the Mother of God’s favor! How surprised are most Latin rite Catholics to discover that their fellow Catholics of the Eastern rites do not share this tradition.

First we must lay to rest any suspicion that the Eastern churches, whether Catholic or Orthodox, must be somehow deficient in tenderness and piety towards Jesus’ mother. Nothing could be further from the truth. The East considers Mary as one of its own daughters, elect among daughters of the nations. The very title Mother of God originated in the East and was solemnly proclaimed by the third ecumenical council, that of Ephesus in 431.

This council took place in a city which hosted the Virgin Mary during the latter years of her earthly sojourn. The fathers there assembled declared that, as Christ was truly God, so the Mother of Christ could be called not just Christokos (She who brought forth Christ) but also Theotokos (She who brought forth God). It is this title — sometimes modified by “All-Holy,” sometimes substituted by it — that Byzantine Christians use in their daily, weekly, and seasonal prayers to the Mother of God.

Each office in the rich liturgical library of the Christian East has its glorification of the All-Holy. Every litany of petition ends with this paean of praise to Mary:

“Let us remember our all-holy spotless, most highly blessed, glorious Lady, the Mother of God and ever-virgin Mary with all the saints and let us commend ourselves and each other and all our life to Christ our God.”  

Read more.

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