St. John of Krondstadt on the Mother of God.

St. John of Krondstadt

St. John of Krondstadt

The Mother of God is one flesh and blood, and one spirit with the Saviour, as His Mother. So infinitely great was Her merit by the grace of God that she became the Mother of God Himself, giving Him most pure and most sacred flesh, nourishing Him with Her milk, carrying Him in Her arms, clothing Him, caring in every way for Him in His infancy, kissing Him over and over again, and caressing Him. O Lord, who can describe the greatness of the God-bearing Virgin? ” Every tongue is in doubt how to worthily praise Thee, even the angelic mind itself wonders how to hymn Thee, Mother of God…..” [623] We must call upon Her with one thought and simple impulse of the heart….. She is one with God, like the Saints.

Know and remember, that the matter of your salvation is always near to the heart of Our Lady, the Mother of God, for it was for this that the Son of God, by the favour of the Father, and the co-operation of the Holy Ghost, chose Her out of all generations and was incarnate of Her in order to save the human race from sin, the curse and the eternal death, or everlasting torments. As the matter of our salvation is near to the Saviour, so likewise it is near to Her. Turn to Her with full faith, trust, and love.

Sergieff, Archpriest John Iliytch; St John of Kronstadt (2010-05-26). My Life in Christ, or Moments of Spiritual Serenity and Contemplation, of Reverent Feeling, of Earnest Self-Amendment, and of Peace in God (Kindle Locations 4326-4334). . Kindle Edition.

Ave Maria

Ave Maria, Benedictine Chant, musical notation

Ave Maria, Benedictine Chant

The Ave Maria, or Hail Mary, is a prayer used (primarily) in the Roman Catholic tradition, although some Anglicans, Lutherans, and other Protestant groups use the prayer as well. The Eastern churches use a different form of this prayer.

Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace.
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death. Amen

The first half of the prayer uses texts straight from scripture. The second half becomes more problematic for Protestants, as the concept of asking the saints for their intercessory prayers is foreign to them. But, so they may not lose access to the beautiful Ave Maria music, some Protestants have come up with an alternate version of the text befitting their theology.

Hail Redeemer


Ave redemptor, Domine Jesus:
Cuius ob opus
Superatur mors, enim salvatio
Nunc inundavit super universam terram.

Sancte redemptor, reputata
Fides est nobis peccatoribus,
Nunc et in morte, ad iustitiam.

English Translation

Hail the Redeemer, Lord Jesus,
By whose work
Death is defeated, for salvation
Has now overflowed upon all of the world.

Holy redeemer, our faith
Is reckoned to us sinners,
Now and in death, as righteousness.

Of the numberless settings of the Ave Maria, I prefer the Schubert version. It is perhaps the most well known, and instantly recognizable.

Ave Maria, Schubert, Latin text

Ave Maria Gratia plena
Maria Gratia plena
Maria Gratia plena
Ave, ave dominus
Dominus tecum
Benedicta tu in mulieribus
Et benedictus
Et benedictus fructus ventris
Ventris tui Jesus
Ave Maria
Ave Maria Mater dei
Ora pro nobis pecatoribus
Ora, ora pro nobis
Ora ora pro nobis pecatoribus
Nunc et in hora mortis
In hora mortis nostrae
In hora mortis, mortis nostrae
In hora mortis nostrae
Ave Maria

The Trisagion Hymn

The Trisagion Prayers are a set of ancient prayers that begin each service of the Daily Cycle of divine services. They are also commonly used to begin one’s private prayers.

The Trisagion Thrice Holy by Angelboy


+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Glory be to Thee, our God; glory be to Thee.

O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things; Treasury of blessings, and Giver of life:  Come and abide in us, and cleanse us of every impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.

+ Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, have mercy upon us.  (with bow)
+ Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, have mercy upon us.  (with bow)
+ Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, have mercy upon us.  (with bow)

+ Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.  Amen.

Most-holy Trinity, have mercy on us:  Lord, cleanse us of our sins; Master, pardon our transgressions; Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities, for Thy Name’s sake.

Lord, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.

+ Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.  Amen.

+ Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.  Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, + of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.  Amen.

Meet it is in truth to bless thee, O Theotokos,
ever-blessèd and all-pure, and the Mother of our God.

More honourable than the Cherubim,
and more glorious incomparably than the Seraphim,
thou who without corruption gavest birth to God the Word,
the very Theotokos:  we thee magnify.

+ Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.  Amen.

Lord, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.

Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, + O Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy upon us.  Amen.

From John Damascene’s book “An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith”

Depiction of the Cherubim

The Cherubim

For we hold the words “Holy God” to refer to the Father, without limiting the title of divinity to Him alone, but acknowledging also as God the Son and the Holy Spirit: and the words “Holy and Mighty” we ascribe to the Son, without stripping the Father and the Holy Spirit of might: and the words “Holy and Immortal” we attribute to the Holy Spirit, without depriving the Father and the Son of immortality. For, indeed, we apply all the divine names simply and unconditionally to each of the subsistences in imitation of the divine Apostle’s words. “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of Whom are all things, and we in Him: and one Lord Jesus Christ by Whom are all things, and we by Him.” And, nevertheless, we follow Gregory the Theologian when he says, “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of Whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom are all things, and one Holy Spirit, in Whom are all things:” for the words “of Whom” and “through Whom” and “in Whom” do not divide the natures (for neither the prepositions nor the order of the names could ever be changed), but they characterize the properties of one unconfused nature. And this becomes clear from the fact that they are once more gathered into one, if only one reads with care these words of the same Apostle, Of Him and through Him and in Him are all things: to Him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen(4). For that the “Trisagium” refers not to the Son alone, but to the Holy Trinity, the divine and saintly Athanasius and Basil and Gregory, and all the band of the divinely-inspired Fathers bear witness: because, as a matter of fact, by the threefold holiness the Holy Seraphim suggest to us the three subsistences of the superessential Godhead.

Depiction of the Seraphim

The Seraphim

But by the one Lordship they denote the one essence and dominion of the supremely-divine Trinity. Gregory the Theologian of a truth says, “Thus, then, the Holy of Holies, which is completely veiled by the Seraphim, and is glorified with three consecrations, meet together in one lordship and one divinity.” This was the most beautiful and sublime philosophy of still another of our predecessors.

Ecclesiastical historians, then, say that once when the people of Constantinople were offering prayers to God to avert a threatened calamity, during Proclus’ tenure of the office of Archbishop, it happened that a boy was snatched up from among the people, and was taught by angelic teachers the “Thrice Holy” Hymn, “Thou Holy God, Holy and Mighty One, Holy and Immortal One, have mercy upon us:” and when once more he was restored to earth, he told what he had learned, and all the people sang the Hymn, and so the threatened calamity was averted. And in the fourth holy and great Ecumenical Council (I mean the one at Chalcedon), we are told that it was in this form that the Hymn was sung; for the minutes of this holy assembly so record it.

Damascene, St. John (2010-08-08). An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith (Kindle Locations 1955-1981).  Kindle Edition.

For more information, See John Sanidopoulos’s blog: The Miracle of the Trisagion (“Thrice-Holy Hymn”)

The Great Panagia

The following is from “The Scent of Holiness”
by Constantina R. Palmer


The Great Panagia

The Great Panagia

The love and admiration the saints have for the Most Holy Theotokos is one of the main common characteristics of their holiness. Countless are the stories in which you read of the saints’ devotion to the All-holy Lady. St. Mary of Egypt went to live out her days in the desert after her encounter with an icon of the Mother of God. St. Nektarios wrote hymns to her in Ancient Greek to demonstrate his love and devotion to her. And Elder Joseph the Hesychast could barely say her name without tears streaming down his face.

Elder Isidoros the blind was also like that. One evening, sitting down with a group of people, he bowed his head and crossed himself while tears rolled down his cheeks. Wiping them away, he said, “Excuse me, but at this time of night the love of the Mother of God pulls me.”

“That’s why,” the nuns told me, “he won’t speak about Panagia in front of too many people. He’ll start to cry.”

One afternoon I sat with the elder in the reception room. Since we were alone, I thought I’d take the opportunity to start up the conversation about the Mother of God he had said we would have.

“Papouli, why don’t you talk to me about Panagia now?”

“Okay, what you would like to know?”

“Why don’t you just tell me about her?” I asked him.

“She is . . . she is . . .” he said, raising his hand in the air and waving it in a circular motion— a gesture Greeks do when they are either pleased or annoyed about something.

“She is . . . she is . . . she’s like . . .”   he said, rubbing his hands together and ever so slightly smiling.

“I can’t describe her. She’s indescribable!” he finally said.

He then started singing the Supplicatory Canon to her: “Now to God’s Mother let us humble sinners run in haste and in repentance let us fall down before her feet, crying aloud with fervor from the depths of our souls, ‘Sovereign Lady, help us now, have compassion upon us, hasten for we perish from our many offenses. Let not your servants go empty away; we have you as our only hope.’” “Do you have the Paraclesis * here?” the elder asked.

“Yes, Papouli, but it’s in English,” I told him.

“Ah, never mind,” he said. He leaned his head back and rested it against the wall.

“How can we become like her?” I asked.

“You know she lived in the Temple from the age of three on,” he said.

“Yes, I know. She was the first hesychast.”

“That’s right! That’s right!” he said. “She was the most pure person that ever lived. She was pure because she never once accepted a bad thought. Not once. She kept her mind, her soul, and her body perfectly pure.”

I understood this to be his answer to my question. We can become like her if we also control our thoughts and struggle to attain purity of heart and mind.

He sang some different hymns to her and then he told me, “The more we cry out to her, the more she will harken to our prayers.”

I knew he spoke from experience. For, although he was blind since birth, when he went to the Holy Mountain to become a monk, his sight was gradually restored. For ten days he could see, but he told the Mother of God, “Panagia, take my sight back so I don’t lose Paradise.”

And she did.

But he wasn’t truly blind. He simply couldn’t use his bodily eyes. He’s been known to describe things in detail, things he couldn’t possibly know if he were truly blind. “And Jesus said, ‘For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind’” (John 9: 39).

 Palmer, Constantina (2012-10-05). The Scent of Holiness: Lessons from a Women’s Monastery (Kindle Locations 3069-3099). Conciliar Press. Kindle Edition.

Elder Isidoros the Blind

Elder Isidoros the Blind

Theotokians for July 4th

You contained the uncontainable God in your womb,
and gave birth to the savior and redeemer of our souls:
Do not despise me, O pure one, for I am in travail;
have mercy on me,
and guard me from all enmity and the snares of the Evil One.

Those who were worthy to behold God in the flesh
proclaimed you, O Maiden, to be a Bride and a Virgin,
worthy of the Father and His divinity.
They proclaimed you to be the Mother of God the Word,
and the dwelling of the Holy Spirit,
for the whole of divinity,
the full and perfect Essence of grace bodily dwelt in you!

The Great Panagia

The Great Panagia









The icon known as The Great Panagia, or the Virgin Orans (orans being the praying position with the arms outstretched, palms up) is an abstract pictorial representation of the Christ child in Mary’s womb. The Christ child is shown against a medallion, and within the confines of Mary’s body. Note too that Christ is not represented as an embryo — this is a physical representation of a spiritual reality — the person of the Christ is both God and man.