Daily Devotion to the Theotokos
Seventh Day of the Month
"And the Lord said...'Let them make for Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them'...And the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle." (Exodus 25:8; 40:35)
When God created us, He showed His love by making the Garden of Paradise for our ancestors to live in. As a loving parent, he came down each day to fellowship with Adam and Eve, as both father and friend.
Should not our eyes be filled with tears of sorrow, Orthodox Christians, when we recall how our mother and father betrayed God through pride and lost paradise for our whole race? How much more should we weep in heartfelt repentance when we think of how we ourselves betray Him each day with our sinful falling?
But take heart and rejoice, O believers, because God did not forsake us on account of our sins. God's love for us is more powerful than all the evil of this world and it is stronger than all our sins and passions. When mankind had fallen away from Him, God prepared for us a special path by which we could return.
We lost the paradise garden, but in the fullness of time, God prepared a special place for us where we could come together and fellowship with Him once more. This place was called the temple, which was a likeness of paradise. This temple was also a revelation about the promises of God for our salvation.
God commanded Moses to make the temple in the wilderness, as a place where God and man could meet together. In this temple, God had a special place set aside and called "The Holy of Holies." In this place, God spiritually came down and dwelt with His people. They could not see Him, and only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies and approach Him in behalf of the people.
It was clear that this Holy of Holies in the Old Testament temple was a prophecy that God would someday come down and take on flesh like ours. The Word of God met with mankind in spirit in the old temple, but promised to meet with us face to face for our salvation in the appointed time.
When and where would this great wonder take place? Where was the Holy of Holies through which God the Word would come forth to meet and commune with us in the flesh to redeem us from our bondage?
Do we not behold and understand, Orthodox believers, that this perfect and life-bearing Holy of Holies was none other than the Most Pure Virgin Theotokos? With awe and wonder, therefore, let us turn to her and say:
O Mother of my Saviour, what manner of woman are you? What strange wonder is this that the God of Heaven and earth, the Creator of human flesh, should dwell in your womb and take human flesh? You, O Most Holy Mother, are the true and perfect Holy of Holies. You are greater than the Old Testament temple, more exalted than the holy places built by Moses and Solomon. For, there God came down spiritually and communed with the High Priest, but in your most sacred and hallowed womb, God united Himself with mankind and fellowshipped with us face to face.
Your womb is higher than the heavens, for God Himself was enthroned in it; your womb is more glorious and more to be reverenced than the ark of the covenant, for God dwelt in you not in symbols and types, but in reality, in both Spirit and Body.
In your womb, O grace-filled Maiden, God returned, as in Paradise, to walk and fellowship with man as both Father and Friend.
Who would not call you blessed, or who would be so spiritually blind that they would not reverence and venerate you above all holy things and all holy places. Even the highest angels cover their eyes before the presence of God, but you bore Him in your womb and nourished Him in your arms.
O Most Pure and Ever Virgin Theotokos, we venerate you as the Holy of Holies, we reverence you as the true and perfect ark of the New Testament covenant and with awe we call upon you:You see, O Mother, how I have separated myself from God through my many sins, you know how often I betray my Saviour through my passions. Have compassion on me, all-pure Maiden and lead me back into unity with God, Who for my sake united Himself with man in your womb. Pray to your Son and our God that He might receive me in repentance back into fellowship with Him, and save my wretched soul from the power of the Evil-One. O Holy of Holies, bring me once more into the tabernacle of my God, that I might hope to dwell with Him and with you, in His Kingdom for all ages.