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"Let not your heart be troubled: Ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my father's house are many mansions"
- St. John 14:1-2
BELIEFS AND TEACHINGS OF ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX TEWAHEDO CHURCH
5. THE GLORY OF OUR HOLY MOTHER VIRGIN MARIAM
The holiness, virginity, covenant and intercession given to Our Holy Lady, the Virgin Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam is quite widely taught and deeply rooted in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.
Our Lady, the Virgin Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam, who conceived and gave birth to Our Lord and Savior Eyesus Christos in virginity is free from the original sin derived from the descendants of Adam, clean from any sins of the flesh or soul; embedded in the conscience of God before the time of her birth, free and protected from human desires and frailties, and the choicest from among the chosen. Such is Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam – Pure and Holy of Holies. (Song 4:7).
She is graced and honoured by Saint Angels as indicated in Lk. 1:28-30. Here it is written that the angel said to her “Greetings, you who are highly favoured the Lord is with you.” Our Lady, who is blessed in body, spirit and flesh, was chosen by God to be the abode of His Son and the dwelling of the Spirit (Heryacos Liturgy 45; Ps. 132:13). Purity of the flesh, purity of the soul and purity of the heart all belong and reside in Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam.
One of the distinctive attributes of Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam that makes her the select among the select and the honoured among the honoured is the fact that she conceived and gave birth to Our Lord and Savior Eyesus Christos in virginity. (Mt. 1:18-20). Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam is virgin before she conceived the Lord, during her period of conception, after conception, before delivery, during delivery and after delivery. Our Lady, apart from all women is pure and virgin in thought, virgin in word and virgin in deed. (Tewodotos 53:22). The word virgin rightfully denotes her sanctity and purity. No female, either past or present, has combined virginity with motherhood; as well as motherhood with virginity as Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam. Our Lady is a virgin in perpetuity (The Liturgy of Basil 73; Ezek. 44:3, Song 4:15) and the Evangelist Luke says “God sent the angel Gabriel...to a virgin...The virgin’s name was Mariam.” (Lk. 1:27). Saint Ephraim also says that Our Lady is the pride of all virgins. (Ephraim 6:3).
Honour of the Virgin
Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam, is the most prominent from all angels. She is pre-eminent in honour and intercession from all saints. Other ladies are honoured for having given birth to prophets, saints and martyrs. But Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam is honoured as the Mother of God. Hence, the honour accorded to Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam is below the Creator, but above His Creatures. She is, therefore, revered as such (John Chrysostomos). The Faith of the Fathers Ch. 28:36-39) Lk. in 1:30 says “...Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam, you have found favour with God.”
Several prophecies have been written about the honour and high esteem of Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam. Prophets have told about the virgin giving birth to Our Lord and Savior Eyesus Christos. (Ps. 132:13; Isa. 7:14; Ezek. 44:3). Church fathers, have through the centuries glorified her guided by the Holy Spirit, about her ever sanctity and purity; and have also praised her in their writings and songs. Fathers such as St. Ephraim, Abba Heriakos, St. John Chrysostomos and Abba Giorgis of Gascha have venerated her greatly. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church reveres her by speaking and writing on her sanctity and purity. The life of Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam is associated with God’s act of redemption. As Noah’s Ark became the cause for saving the lives of his family as well as himself and this saving the human race from extinction; Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam, is also God’s trusted repository for being the cause for God’s act of redemption by giving birth to the Savior Messiah. According to the doctrine and faith of our Church, Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam is venerated as being above God’s creatures, but below God. In our hymns and liturgy, we recite Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam’s praise right after reciting the Holy Trinity’s. The sacrifices that Our Lord and Savior Eyesus Christos paid for the human race for himself becoming man; when we think of this in conjunction with the trails He went through, i.e., the fact that He was born in the manger, that He was shrouded in a rug, that He was banished, driven away from place to place, His suffering, His crucifixion and death; we cannot separate Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam from these travails. Who else, outside of Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam has been honoured thus “Greetings, you who are highly favoured...you have found favor with God...the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” (Lk. 1:28-35). From among her relatives, St. Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit said to Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” Besides, she bore witness to the fact that Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam is the Mother of God by exclaiming “But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me!” (Lk. 1:43). She thus confirmed that what was said by God about Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam would be accomplished and that she would believe in and carry out God’s will. When St. Elizabeth heard Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam’s greetings, the baby leaped in her womb (John) and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Thus was it confirmed that He who was born of the blessed Virgin Mariam was God, the Son of God. Our Lady has herself said that “From now on all generations will call me blessed” (Lk. 1:48; Ps. 45:17). On this basis, all Christians who believe in Her Son, regard her as the basis of their purity, as a pride of their virginity, and a cause for their salvation.
The Covenant of Intercession
Our Church teaches about the covenant of intercession given to Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam with Biblical truth and absolute apostolic tradition. Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam has obtained the honour of motherhood and the covenant of intercession from her Son, Our Lord and Savior Eyesus Christos.
Our Lord and Savior Eyesus Christos performed the first miracle through the intercession of Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam, by changing water into wine at a wedding at Canna of Galilee (Feast of the First miracle). (Jn. 2:1-5). When the Lord was on the Cross, he said “Dear woman, here is your son” (Jn. 19:26). When he saw Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam standing there, and He also said “here is your mother” to His Disciple and thus gave her to the custody of the Church. She received an irreversible word from Our Lord and Savior Eyesus Christos that all who beg for mercy and forgiveness in her name believing that she is the mother of Our Lord and Savior Eyesus Christos shall have their supplications answered. Hence the Church, preserving the word of her Son, Our Lord and Savior Eyesus Christos, reveres Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam as:
the abode for the Holy Spirit
the Mother of God
the Eternal Virgin
the Holy of Holies
and since the Holy Bible attests to these honours of hers, and since Holy Angels and the sons of Adam revere her, the Church therefore honours, thanks, and implores in her name (Liturgy of Jacob of Serough 99).
Symbols that regards Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam
Symbols that regards Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam and her greatness and her relation with God:
Ladder of Jacob - Gen. 28:12
The bride- Ps. 45:10 -14
The Ark of Noah 6:14
The beautiful pigeon - Gen. 8:11
The cloud of Prophet Elijah - 1 Kings 18:44
The golden censer of Aaron - Numbers 16:46
The city of God - Ps 87:3-5
The golden lamp - John 1:9
The burning bush - Exodus 3:2
The ark of covenant - Ex. 25:10, 22
Pot of the manna - Exodus 16:32
Rod of Aaron - Num.17:6 -8
The gate in the East - Ez. 44: 1 -2
Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam, departed on Tirr 21st (January 28th aged 64, according to the Tradition (Tewfit) that has been passed on from the Apostles. Angels carried her body to paradise and placed it under the plant of life in paradise. Having thus been there in paradise till Nehase 14th (August 20th) of the same year, angels carried and gave her body back to the Apostles and they laid it to rest at Gethsemani. On the third day of her burial, i.e. on the 16th of Nehase (August 22nd), she rose from the dead and her ascension to heaven in glory took place. Thus is what the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church believes and teaches about the death, resurrection and ascension of Our Holy Mother Virgin Mariam. The 16th of Nehase (August 22nd) of every year is thus commemorated with great ceremony by the Church (Sinaxarium, 16th of Nehase).
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