Saint Mary in the Orthodox Concept
Saint Mary is regarded as the highest saint in the Orthodox Church. She is higher than all the heavenly saints and any man or woman saint who ever lived. She is called the Theotokos, which is a Greek word meaning “Mother of God.” Saint Mary is the Mother of God. The Coptic church focuses on the life of Saint Mary in the month of August. The fast of Saint Mary is from August 7 – August 21. The feast of the assumption of Saint Mary is August 22.
The Theotokos in the Feasts of the Coptic Orthodox Church
The Annunciation of the Birth of Saint Mary
This is the day celebrating the annunciation of the birth of Saint Mary to Joachim, the father of Saint Mary. Joachim and Anna were the parents of Saint Mary. This day is celebrated on 7 Misra (August 13th). On this day, God sent His honorable angel Gabriel to announce to Saint Joachim of the birth of the Virgin, the mother of the incarnated God. This righteous man and his wife Saint Anna (Hannah) were stricken in years and had no children for Anna was barren. The children of Israel used to insult him because he had not begotten a son. Because of this, these two saints were sad, and prayed continually, and entreated God by day and by night. They vowed that the child they would beget would be made a steward for the temple. While Saint Joachim was praying over the mountain, he fell into a deep sleep and Gabriel, the angel of the Lord, appeared to him and announced to him that his wife Anna would conceive and bear a child, that would delight his eyes and please his heart; and likewise all the world would rejoice and be glad. When he woke from his sleep, he came to his house, and told his wife about the vision, which she believed. Anna conceived forthwith, and brought forth our Lady, the Virgin Mary, and Saint Anna became more honorable than all the women of the world.
The Birth of Saint Mary
The birth of Saint Mary is celebrated on 1 Bashans (May 9th). On this day the church celebrates the birth of the pure Virgin Saint Mary, the Mother of God (Theotokos), through whom Salvation came to mankind. She was born in the city of Nazareth, where her parents lived. Her father was grieved in his heart for he could not offer an offering to God for he did not have any children. In the fullness of time according to the Divine Will, the angel of the Lord was sent to announce Joachim, her father, while he was on the mountain praying, and said to him: “The Lord will give you offspring through whom salvation comes to the world.” Immediately he went down the mountain believing what the angel told him, and he told his wife Anna of what he saw and heard. She rejoiced, gave thanks to the Lord, and vowed that the child who was to be born to her would become a servant in the house of the Lord all the days of her/his life. She conceived, and gave birth to this Saint and called her Mary who had become the Queen of all women of the world, and through her we have received the grace.
The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Love of Honor
Whenever one tries to approach the Blessed Virgin Mary to understand the secrets behind her life, one's mind gets boggled and baffled by them. For, while a lot of women and leaders of women's movements fight to obtain rights and honor, this simple poor girl appeared on the scene of events to become not only higher than those on earth but also those in heaven. As St. Isaac the Syrian said, "whoever runs after honor, it runs away from him and whoever runs away from honor willfully honor chases him and lead people to him." That is why God had honored this girl and chosen her to become His Mother.
The Blessed Virgin Mary ran away from all fame and honor. Although she had lots of stories, news and words she had known about and of her dear Son our Lord Jesus Christ that any human being yearns to listen to, yet she chose to keep all these things to herself pondering them in her heart. Had she uttered a word, all humanity would have surrounded her to record those things she knew about the Master Jesus Christ. However, she escaped all this glory and chose the life of silence and quietude.
The Blessed Virgin Mary ran away from all glory of praise choosing to live in the shadow of events. She exemplified this attitude in her visit to Elizabeth to serve her behind the scenes; and when it was Elizabeth's due time the Blessed Virgin Mary hurried quickly back to her house before people would gather in the house of Elizabeth and Zachariah and get to see her and praise her for having served the aged woman for three months.
The Blessed Virgin Mary ran away from the respect and privilege of defending herself and proving her innocence. For when St. Joseph the righteous questioned her purity, she submitted herself and her modesty to God who vindicates the wronged. In addition, after the angel had revealed her secret to St. Joseph, she never chastised nor rebuked him for his distrust in her. In fact, she chose to experience being wronged like her Son, "although He was ill-treated, He opened not His mouth. He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb is silent before his shearers, so He opens not His mouth" (Isaiah 53:7, LXX).
The Blessed Virgin Mary ran away from herself and her ego living a life of submission and selflessness letting others to choose for her how to conduct her life. Her parents chose for her to live in the temple and the temple priests chose her spouse and patron. She did not even think or dream of becoming the Mother of God; but when God chose her she immediately offered herself in complete obedience confirming "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38). Her life of total submission extended to include her lack of knowledge of the place of delivery, the baby's name, the flight to Egypt, living in Nazareth or her future life companion with whom she was to spend the rest of her life after the crucifixion and death of her son. In spite of all the uncertainty and hazards of events in her life yet she lived a life free of complaint, full of joy, and simplicity of heart.
Daily Bible Reading
"Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a signupon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by theway, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up . And thou shalt write them upon the doorposts of thine house, and upon thy gates: That your days may be multiplied , and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days ofheaven upon the earth."
Deuteronomy 11 (18-21)