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EARLY CHURCH’S INVOCATION OF MARY

The following material was compiled by William Albrecht.

The Sub Tuum Praesidium (250)

petitions:

“O Mother of God: do not despise our petitions in time of trouble: but rescue us from dangers, only pure, only blessed one.”

The Anaphoras of Coptic/Egyptian Basil (300s)

In its oldest Sahidic manuscript has the following within a Litany: “…the holy and glorious Mary, Theotokos (Mother of God), and by her prayers have mercy on us all…”

Gregory the Wonderworker (200s)

But we, O my friends, resorting to the garden of the Saviour, let us praise the Holy Virgin; saying along with the angels in the language of Divine grace, “Rejoice thou and be glad.” For from her first shone forth the eternally radiant light, that lighteth us with its goodness.

The Holy Virgin is herself both an honourable temple of God and a shrine made pure, and a golden altar of whole burnt offerings. By reason of her surpassing purity [she is] the Divine incense of oblation ( = προθέσεως), and oil of the holy grace, and a precious vase bearing in itself the true nard; [yea and] the priestly diadem revealing the good pleasure of God, whom she alone approacheth holy in body and soul. [She is] the door which looks eastward, and by the comings in and goings forth the whole earth is illuminated. The fertile olive from which the Holy Spirit took the fleshly slip (or twig) of the Lord, and saved the suffering race of men. She is the boast of virgins, and the joy of mothers; the declaration of archangels, even as it was spoken: “Be thou glad and rejoice, the Lord with thee”; and again, “from thee”; in order that He may make new once more the dead through sin.

Great is the mystery. Thou hast learned, O Mary, that which till now was hidden from angels. Thou hast known that which deaf prophets and patriarchs heard not; and thou hast heard that which the choirs of the God-clad were not ever held worthy to hear. David and Isaiah, and all the prophets foretold in their preaching about the Lord’s becoming man. But do thou alone, O Holy Virgin, receive the mystery unknown by them, and learn and be not perplexed as to how this shall be unto thee. For He that fashioned man out of virgin soil, the Selfsame shall even now do as. He will for the salvation of His creature.

The Homily of St. Gregory the Wonder-worker, concerning the Holy Mother of God, ever-virgin

Gregory of Nazianzen (300s)

THE VIRGIN JUSTINA CALLS UPON MARY

There once lived a virgin of noble ancestry, endowed with the most perfect manners. Hear ye and exult, O virgins, and all who honor modesty and love purity. For this story is an elegy to both categories. The virgin, Justina, was extraordinarily beautiful to behold. Of her divine David sings together with us, saying: “The daughter of the king is clothed in beauty” (Ps 45:14). True spouse of Christ, hidden beauty, living image of God, inviolate sanctuary erected to the Godhead, inaccessible sacred ground, enclosed garden, sealed fountain (thus Solomon also adds something), reserved for Christ alone.

But pure and divine souls are quick to discover in this the sport of the devil, even though he is very subtle in deceiving and various in his attacks. Thus the maid, as soon as she noticed the presence of evil and sensed the threat, what did she do and what method did she oppose to the artifice of the evil one? Despairing of all other remedies, she took refuge in God…

Recalling these and other circumstances and imploring the Virgin Mary to bring her assistance, since she, too, was a virgin and had been in danger, she entrusted herself to the remedy of fasting and sleeping on the ground. —Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 24, 9-11; PG 35, 1177 C-1181 A

Methodius (AD 305)

“While the old man [Simeon] was thus exultant, and rejoicing with exceeding great and holy joy, that which had before been spoken of in a figure by the prophet Isaiah, the holy Mother of God now manifestly fulfilled” (Oration on Simeon and Anna 7 [A.D. 305]).

“Hail to you forever, you virgin Mother of God, our unceasing joy, for unto you do I again return. . . . Hail, you fount of the Son’s love for man. . . . Wherefore, we pray you, the most excellent among women, who boast in the confidence of your maternal honors, that you would unceasingly keep us in remembrance. O holy Mother of God, remember us, I say, who make our boast in you, and who in august hymns celebrate your memory, which will ever live, and never fade away”

Theodotus of Ancyra (400s)

Hail, our desirable gladness;

Hail, O rejoicing of the churches;

Hail, O name that breathes out sweetness;

Hail, face that radiates divinity and grace;

Hail, most venerable memory;

Hail, O spiritual and saving fleece;

Hail, O Mother of unsetting splendor, filled with light;

Hail, unstained Mother of holiness;

Hail, most limpid font of the lifegiving wave;

Hail, new Mother, workshop of the birth.

Hail, ineffable Mother of a mystery beyond understanding;

Hail, new book of a new scripture, of which, as Isaiah tells, angels and men are faithful witnesses.

Hail, alabaster jar of sanctifying ointment;

Hail, best trader of the coin of virginity;

Hail, creature embracing your Creator;

Hail, little container containing the Uncontainable.

HOMILY 4

St. Cyril of Alexandria (400s)

“Hail to thee Mary, Mother of God, to whom in towns and villages and in island were founded churches of true believers”

“Hail, Mary, you are the most precious creature in the whole world; hail, Mary, uncorrupt dove; hail, Mary, inextinguishable lamp; for from you was born the Sun of justice…through you, every faithful soul achieves salvation.” Cyril of Alexandria, Homily 11 at Ephesus

Basil of Seleucia (400s)

“O Virgin all holy, he who has said of you all that is honorable and glorious has not sinned against the truth, but remains unequal to your merit. Look down upon us from above and be propitious to us. Lead us in peace and having brought us without shame to the throne of judgment, grant us a place at the right hand of your Son, that we may borne off to heaven and sing with angels to the uncreated, consubstantial Trinity” Basil of Seleucia, THEO 187 PG 85:452

Antipater of Bostra (400s)

“Hail you who acceptably intercedes as a Mediatress for mankind.” (In S Joannem Bapt; PG 85:1772C

Severus of Antioch (early 500s)

We implore her who is the birthgiver of God and pray her to intercede for us, she who is honored by all the saints. Oettoco 18

Romanos the Singer, the BVM replies: (500s)

“Cease your laments; I will make myself your advocate in my Son’s presence. Meanwhile, no more sadness, because I have brought joy to the world. For it is to destroy the kingdom of sorrow that I have come into the world: I full of grace … Then curb your tears; accept me as your mediatrix in the presence of him who was born from me, because the author of joy is the God generated before all ages. Remain calm; be troubled no longer: I come from him, full of grace.” Romanos the Singer, On Christmas 2,10-11(ante AD 560), in MCF,327

Romanos on Christmas (500s)

Tell me, my Child, how were you planted in me, and how were you formed in me? I see you, O my womb, and I am stunned. My bosom is full of milk, and I am not married. I see you wound about with swaddling clothes and perceive that the seal of my virginity is still intact, for it was you that kept it intact, when you deigned to be born, my little Child, God before all ages! High King, what do you have in common with our sorrows? Creator of heaven, why do you come among the inhabitants of earth? Were you taken with desire for a cave? Are you in love with a manger?

Theoteknos of Livias, (500s)

“Raised to heaven, she remains for the human race an unconquerable rampart, interceding for us before her Son and God.” Dormition/Assumption Homily

D.):

Jacob of Serug (500s)

717 On this day Adam rejoices and Eve his wife,

because their daughter rests in the place where they are gathered.

On this day the righteous Noah and Abraham rejoice

that their daughter has visited them in their dwelling-place.

On this day Jacob, the honourable old man, rejoices

that the daughter who sprouted from his root has called him to life.

She wove a beautiful crown and set it on her sublime head

on which valuable pearls were laid.

The name of Christ the King who was crucified on Golgotha,

grants life and sheds forth mercy on the one who invokes Him.

And also on me a sinner who is not capable of praising her,

the Mother of mercy, who brought You forth in the flesh.

O Son of God, by her prayers make your peace to dwell

in heaven, in the depths, and among all the counsels of her sons.

Make wars to cease, and remove trials and plagues;

bestow calm and tranquillity on seafarers.

Heal the infirm, cure the sick, fill the hungry;

be a Father to orphans whom death has left destitute.

In your pity, drive out devils who harass mankind,

and exalt your Church to the four quarters of the globe, that it may sing your praise.

Watch over priests and purify ministers;

be a guardian of old age and youth.

O Bridegroom Christ, to you be praise from every mouth,

and on us be mercy at all times. Amen, Amen. -On the Dormition of Mary, the Mother of God

Fulgentius: (500s)

“Come, virgins, to the Virgin Mary; you who are conceiving, to her who conceived; you who are giving birth, to her who gave birth; mothers, to me Mother; you who nurse, to her who nursed; maids, to the Maid. For Mary passed through all these courses of nature, in order that she may come to the aid of all women who come to her, and thus restore the whole race of women who come to her.”Sermo de laudibus Mariae

Coptic Ostraca (AD 600)

“Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, because thou didst conceive Christ, the Son of God, the Redeemer of our souls”

Germanus of Constantinople (700S)

Homily For the Liberation of Constantinople

May the Ever-Virgin—radiant with divine light and full of grace, mediatrix first through her supernatural birth and now because of the intercession of her maternal assistance—be crowned with never-ending blessings. . . seeking balance and fittingness in all things, we should make our way honestly, as sons of light.

I will build you up as a rampart for the world, as a bridge for those tossed about by the tides, as an ark for those who are saved, as a staff for those who are led by the hand, as the intercessor for sinners, and as the ladder that can conduct men to heaven. Homily 3 on the Dormition

Ave Maris Stella (700s)

Ave maris stella,

Dei Mater alma,

atque semper virgo

felix coeli porta.

Sumens illud ave

Gabrielis ore,

Funda nos in pace,

Mutans Evae nomen

Hail, Star of the Sea,

dear Mother of God

and always virgin,

the happy gate to heaven.

While taking that AVE

From the lips of Gabriel,

Ground us in peace,

By turning around EVA’s name

John of Damascene (700s)

“We today also remain near you, O Lady. Yes, I repeat, O Lady, Mother of God and Virgin. We bind our souls to your hope, as to a most firm and totally unbreakable anchor, consecrating to you mind, soul, body, and all our being and honoring you, as much as we can, with psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles.” Homily 1 on the Dormition, 14
Ambrose Autpert (700s)

“Let us entrust ourselves with all our soul’s affection to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin: let us all, with all our strength, beg her patronage, that, at the moment when on earth we surround her with our suppliant homage, she herself may deign in heaven to commend us with fervent prayer. For without any doubt she who merited to bring ransom for those who needed deliverance, can more than all the saints benefit by her favor those who have received deliverance” Assumption of the Virgin, PL 39:2134

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