Most Holy Theotokos, save us!

“Truly you are worthy to be blessed,
Mother of our God, the Theotokos,
You the ever blessed one, and all blameless one,
And the Mother of our God.
You are honored more than the Cherubim,
And you have more glory, when compared, to the Seraphim;
You, without corruption,
Did bear God, the Logos;
You are the Theotokos;
You do we magnify.” ~Magnificat

Dearest Spiritual Ohana,

We, as Orthodox Christians, hold our Lady the Theotokos in the highest of honor and devotion.  Those who have not come from the Orthodox Christian Faith often ask why we do so?  One amazing fact is that we commemorate her in the beginning of the Ecclesiastical Year, celebrating her birth, and we commemorate her near the end of the Ecclesiastical Year with the observance of her Dormition, her “falling asleep” in the Lord.  We hold her in such high honor, because of her role in willingly becoming the vessel through which our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ became incarnate. As His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos Ware states: “But Orthodox honor Mary, not only because she is Theotokos, but because she is ‘Panagia,’  All-Holy.  Among all God’s creatures, she is the supreme example of synergy or cooperation between the purpose of the deity and human freedom.  God, who always respects our liberty of choice, did not wish to become incarnate without the willing consent of His Mother.  He wanted her voluntary response:  ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be as you have said (Luke 1:38).  Mary could have refused; she was not merely passive, but an active participant in the mystery.”

The more we show reverence to the Theotokos, the more we recognize the greatness and majesty of her Son.  To deny her the honor due her, is to deny the wonder of the Incarnation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  For without her willing part, the Lord would not have been able to take on our human nature and redeem and save us.

She is the greatest among the Saints and above and more glorious than all the Heavenly Bodiless Powers of Angels.  Within many of our Orthodox Churches she has a place of prominence where she is depicted.  She appears in the center apse over our altars in an icon called the “Platyera,” which depicts her with the Christ Child in her womb.  Here is what the website, “” says about the Platytera:  “Panagia Platytera (Greek: Πλατυτέρα; "wider" or "more spacious") is an icon of the Theotokos, facing the viewer directly, usually depicted full length with her hands in the "orans" position, and with the image of Christ as a child in front of her chest, also facing the viewer directly. Sometimes the image of Christ is contained within a medallion.

Poetically, by containing the Creator of the Universe in her womb, Mary has become Platytera ton ouranon, which means: "More spacious than the heavens." This type is sometimes called the "Virgin of the Sign" or "Our Lady of the Sign," a reference to Isaiah 7:14: "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel."

Such an image is often placed in the apse above the altar.”

The Platytera in the Church is typically accompanied by the “Pantocrator” icon of Christ which is depicted in the Church’s dome.  “Pantocrator” means the “One Who holds all.”  With the dynamics of the Platytera and Pantocrator both in place in our Churches we get a clearer perspective of the two icons complementing each other and going together.  The Pantocrator has the place of highest prominence/glory in the dome and the Platyera in the apse shows the Theotokos to be bridge/conduit to connect the Heavenly and Earthly Realms together.

The Theotokos is called the “New Eve” and likewise Christ the “New Adam.”  The Theotokos, who was born in the same human nature we possess, shows us the heights we can reach in our humanity, through her supreme example of her free will and response to God.  For she submits fully to the Will of God and exclaims, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord!  Let it be to me according to your word.”  (Luke 1:38)

May we follow in her example to us to let God’s Will be done in us!

“Most Holy Theotokos, save us!”

 With Love in Christ,

+Fr. Alexander