Daily Devotion to the Theotokos
Eighth Day of the Month
faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not
seen....Through faith Sarah received strength to conceive seed and was
delivered of a child when she was passed the age, because she knew that
He Who had made the promise is faithful....And what more should I
say, for time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak, and of Samson
and Jephthah, of David also, and of Solomon and of the
(Habakkuk, Chapter 11)
* * *
The deeds and faith of those great men of old are spoken of everywhere: patriarchs, priests, judges and prophets, men of faith and renown.
But what of those great women who came before you, Most Holy Theotokos? Were they not also great in faith, and were their lives not also filled with prophecies of the promise?
Let us, Orthodox faithful turn to the pages of the Sacred Scripture and read of them: Eve and Sarah, Hannah and Esther, Judith and the mother of the Maccabees, Elizabeth and Anna. As we read from the Holy Book, the eyes of our heart are opened by God's grace, to understand how each of them was a likeness of you, Most Pure Maiden. And we behold how you were higher and more blessed than all of them. Each of these women prophesied in part about the restoration by Christ of God's holy Church and about the redemption of fallen humanity, but in you, O Maiden full of grace, all these prophecies have been fulfilled.
Let us, believers, contemplate the lives of only a few of these great women of old, our holy foremothers in the faith, and contemplate on the fullness of all, which came to pass through the Holy Theotokos.
Eve became the Mother of all mankind, but through her man fell into bondage to Satan, and by her, the gates of paradise were closed against us. Yet in her repentance God received her and through her gave us the promise that from her descendants one could come Who would crush the head of the serpent and set us free.
In you, O full of grace, this promise has been fulfilled. You, Mary, have become the new Eve, the Mother of redeemed mankind. You are the Mother of the new race of mankind called Christians. Through your humility and obedience, the gates of paradise are once more opened, for the Child Whom you bore is the one Who has crushed the head of the evil-one and set us free of his bitter bondage.
Our Mother Sarah gave birth to a child by God's miracle, according to His promise. God touched her and allowed her to conceive with Abraham, though she was beyond her time. Because of this miracle, Sarah became the Mother of the holy nation. But let us contemplate her life yet further. Did she not lament and weep in anguish, her heart pierced by the sword of sorrow, when she saw Abraham lead her only son away to sacrifice him? And did she not rejoice as a mother who had received her son back, as it were, from the dead, when Abraham brought him home again safe and well?
Who does not see the likeness of you, O Theotokos, in our holy Mother Sarah?
You bore a Son in your virginity by the miracle and touch of God. Thus, you became the Mother of that new holy nation named after your Son, Christ. Did you not also see your Son led away to be sacrificed? What anguish filled your soul, what grief overcame you, and what great sword of sorrow pierced your heart seeing Him, though perfect and innocent, nailed to the Cross? But did you not also rejoice in unspeakable ecstasy when you received Him back again, raised from the dead?
The heart of a Mother ever holds and cherishes her child, and though you worship Him as God and Saviour, your heart no doubt embraces Him as a beloved Son.
We read of Hannah the prophetess, the mother of Samuel, and once more we see a prophecy of you, O most spotless Virgin. For, in her day, the priesthood fell into corruption and disobedience to God. Hannah, too, bore a child through a miracle of God, and she became the mother of the new priest and judge of the holy nation. Her son took the place of those priests and judges who had fallen from faith, betraying both Israel and God.
Did not the new and perfect High Priest and Eternal Judge come forth from you, O Theotokos? Jesus Christ our Saviour, Who was born in the flesh from your pure womb, is truly the fulfillment of Hannah's prophecy. What was fulfilled in Hannah was only a shadow of what would be fulfilled perfectly in you, O full of grace.
As we contemplate all the other great women of the Old Testament, we understand that each of them was an imperfect likeness of you, and that all their prophecies have been fulfilled perfectly in you.
Let your heart soar heavenward, O believer, when you think of the Most Pure Virgin, the Theotokos, and let your soul bow in reverence before her. For the hope and expectation of the ages has come to pass through her. Let your minds look heavenward, and turn with humble prayer to the one who bore our God and Saviour, saying:
O you who are
most favored among all mankind, you in whom the prophecies and
promises have been fulfilled, I beseech you, O maid Most Pure and blessed, intercede for me that I may be freed from the bonds of the passions,
and that my blinded soul may receive the light of understanding to find
that blessed path of salvation.
our forebears lost paradise and brought the Church to barrenness, God proclaimed
His promises prophetically through the holy women and filled it with hope.
Thou, O Theotokos, art the seal of the promise, the fulfillment of the
hope of the fallen Church,
where/or we cry out to Him Who came forth from thee:
(Kontakion 8, Akathist to the
Joy of Canada.)