“For at present she is the only one who has a place in heaven with her divinely glorified body in the company of her Son”

In ancient times there were many who attained to divine favour, glory, and power. As David says, “How precious also are thy friends unto me, O God! How great is their authority! If I should count them, they are mo in number than the sand” (Ps. 139:17-18 LXX). According to Solomon, “Many have acquired riches, and many daughters have acted with power, but she excels and outdoes them all”, to an inexpressible degree (cf. Prov. 31:29). Standing between God and the whole human race, she alone made God a son of man, and men sons of God, rendered the earth heaven and made mankind divine. She alone among women was declared the mother of God by nature transcending every nature. Through her unutterable childbearing she became Queen of all creation in this world and beyond, and through herself she raised up those below her, and made her subjects heavenly instead of earthly. She shared in the noblest honour, the most sublime power and the ordination bestowed from heaven through the divine Spirit, and was set high above all, the supremely blessed Queen of a blessed race.

Today she has moved from earth to heaven, and now has heaven too as a fitting dwelling-place, a place meet for her. She has stood on the right hand of the King of all, clothed in vesture wrought with gold, and arrayed in divers colours, as the psalmist and prophet says of her; and you should take this garment interwoven with gold to mean her divinely radiant body, adorned with every type of virtue. For at present she is the only one who has a place in heaven with her divinely glorified body in the company of her Son. Earth, the grave and death could not ultimately detain her life-giving body, which has held God and been a more beloved habitation for Him than heaven and the heaven of heavens. For if a soul which has the grace of God dwelling within it goes up to heaven when released from this world, as we believe and is evident on my accounts, how can that body which not only received within it the pre-eternal, only-begotten Son of God, the ever-flowing fount of grace, but was also plainly seen to bear Him, fail to be taken up from earth to heaven? Could she who, when only three years old, before the heavenly child had dwelt within her and been clothed by her in flesh, lived in the Holy of Holies, and who became excellent and truly heavenly even in her body through many great works, afterwards become earth subject to corruption? How could this seem reasonable to people who take a rational view?

It was right, therefore, that the body which brought forth the Son should be glorified with him in divine glory, and that the ark of Christ’s holiness should arise with Him who rose on the third day, as the prophet sang. The linen cloths and winding-sheets left behind in the tomb, which were all that those who came to look for her found there, proved to the disciples that she too had risen from the dead, just as was earlier the case with her Son and Lord. It was not, however, necessary for her, as it was for her Son and God, to stay for a while longer on earth, so she was taken up directly from the grave to the heavenly realm, whence she sends bright shafts of holy light and grace down to earth, illuminating all the space around the world, and is venerated, admired, and hymned by all the faithful.

St Gregory Palamas

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8 Responses to “For at present she is the only one who has a place in heaven with her divinely glorified body in the company of her Son”

  1. … pre-eternal, only-begotten Son of God …

    Aidan, can you explain what “pre-eternal” means?

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  2. Fr Aidan Kimel says:

    “Pre-eternal” translates the Greek word proaionios.

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    • Then, not only the translation is senseless (how can something be “before eternity”?), but there is, in the addition of Constantinople 381 to Nicea 325, an expression that helps understand the meaning of the Greek proaionios: pro panton ton anion, “before all ages”.

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      • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

        Miguel, I’m afraid you have missed the point. “Pre-eternity” is a piece of negative theology. If you are ever going to grasp what’s going on with Christian theological language, you need to learn how negative/apophatic theology works. In any case, this is not the right thread for that discussion. Today is the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos. This thread is devoted to her. Thanks.

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        • villanovanus says:

          Aidan,

          I will respect the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos (which Catholics call the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary) by not commenting on your blog. Here, though, I will simply laugh at the “Pre-eternity” as a “piece of negative theology”. Negative theology means that not only do we have to accept a piece of mysterian nonsense as the “trinity”, but that “above the trinity” there is an unspeakable (apophatic) reality, of which nothing can be said. IOW the worst of both worlds: the “trinity” and neo-Platonism.

          Take care,

          Mario (aka Miguel de Servet and MdS)

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          • Matthew Hryniewicz says:

            I’m no expert, but that looks like a comment, and derision hardly strikes me as a sign of respect.

            But, all quips aside, it would be beneficial for you to take the time to get a basic understanding of negative theology before dismissing it wholesale. Properly understood, the apophatic approach is unavoidable in theological discourse. It does not entail a rejection of all cataphatic approaches (nor does it include Trinity and Neo-Platonism as a direct consequent), but is, at its simplest, merely a stating of that which God is not. Even an assertion as banal and noncontroversial as “God is not made of rocks” is a piece of apophaticism.

            I’m not going to try to say anything about the use of “pre-eternity.” I could venture a guess, but it would not likely be helpful.

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          • Sorry everybody, I do not know how this happened: I sent my comment, as an e-mail, in reply to Aidan’s comment, having seen his as an email. It was NOT my intention that my comment would be published. 😦

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          • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

            Miguel, you received an email because you in this thread you apparently checked the box asking to be sent automatic notifications of comments. When you replied to the email, your email was then automatically added to the thread. If you wish, I will delete your comment.

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