“O Most Holy Theotokos, full of grace and Most Blessed among women, the Lord is indeed with you”

O Blessed Virgin, You are full of grace and among women the Most Blessed of any person; You are the adornment of the human race, the miracle of Angels, the joy of all creation, the crown of virtue, the most true image and likeness of God, the most well-disposed Queen, and we laud and praise your holiness. After all the glory we render to the Eternal Logos of God, our Creator and Savior, we directly confess and witness to your graces, O Theotokos, for You co-operated with and participated in the plan of our salvation. We beseech You, Most Holy Mother of God, accept also now our petition and send it for a favorable consideration to our Savior, and your Son, Jesus Christ, and through Him to the Unoriginate God and Father and the Holy Spirit. For you have served God in the very best of all the divine acts and in the greatest heavenly plan for the salvation of us humans. If God listens to sinners when they return in repentance to His obedience and love—O what supernatural wonder!—how will He reject your intercession on our behalf? We admit that we are sinful and unworthy of any heavenly or earthly visitation; and yet we dare to be bold because we know the depth of your own loving kindness and compassion that resembles that of God Himself. We also confess and witness to your own abiding favor and providence toward our nation, which has been demonstrated from the beginning until now.

For these reasons therefore do not overlook us, the least of your servants, but intercede on our behalf; show your guardianship over us. Our life is passing away and the guilt for our sins is great and heavy. Our repentance is lukewarm and uncertain. We turn to God Our Creator in repentance and immediately we return again to evil.

For this reason then, Most Compassionate Mother of Our Merciful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, be quick to deliver us from these present fears of ours. Grant us a repentance that is as true and steadfast as possible; make us all to be diligent in the work of our salvation; supplement with your divine love for mankind what is lacking in us because of our natural weakness and long-standing companionship with evil. Dissolve the guilt of our many great sins, by generating a profound contrition in our soul and by offering it as a start to the divine love for mankind, through which so many repentant thieves, prostitutes, and publicans have been saved. If, through your own concern and effort on our behalf, we do not see the Light of Divine mercy shine upon us who are most imprudent and reckless, then all of our affairs will be filled with horrible fears and destruction. We know and are certain that you will not abandon us altogether; we still have hope that is based upon the abundance of God’s loving kindness toward mankind and your own many visitations to us. O Most Holy Theotokos, full of grace and Most Blessed among women, the Lord is indeed with you, and may He be also with us through you, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

St Gennadios Scholarios

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29 Responses to “O Most Holy Theotokos, full of grace and Most Blessed among women, the Lord is indeed with you”

  1. Re the ” You co-operated with and participated in the plan of our salvation”: Did Mary in fact co-operate in the conception by the Holy Spirit of Jesus?

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      Recall the response of the Blessed Virgin to the announcement of the angel: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

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      • Thank you for your response. But Mary’s acquiescence is after the fact, isn’t it?

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        • Tim McGee says:

          I don’t think it was after the fact. If reading correctly, the angel of the Lord said, “you will conceive in your womb and bear a son.” The tense, “will,” suggests it has not yet happened. Mary is upheld as the first and most obedient disciple, trusting God’s message given to her through the angel.

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  2. If an angel of the Lord said to her, “you will conceive,” the decision has been made and the conception is inevitable.

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    • Jonathan says:

      I’m not sure I understand what the confusion or objection is here. How could one cooperate or acquiesce to something in any way but “after the fact”? Cooperation here is mainly about inner disposition. To rephrase Mary’s fiat in the terminology of today’s college campus, Mary consented. The whole point of consent is that it occurs between the inception of the will to do the thing and the doing of the thing. And even after consent is given, well. . . it takes two to tango, doesn’t it?

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      • Was Mary offered the opportunity to choose before she was told that she would be the mother of God and before it was determined that she would be the mother of God?

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        • Jonathan says:

          Choose what? Giving birth to the Messiah or not giving birth to him? What kind of choice would that be?

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          • It would be the kind of choice she should have had. There’s room to believe that she would have chosen to give birth to the Messiah, even had she been made aware of, say, the crucifixion.

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        • Jonathan says:

          I think you’re unclear on where Mary’s choice lay. It was in the “fiat,” the grammatical mood of that verb, and not the bare fact of her role. Did you choose to be born or to die? No, but you were, and you will. You can choose how then to live in light of what is and shall be. Perhaps my analogy to what’s commonly called consent these days was poorly chosen. But consent has a deeper and more nuanced meaning than the basically transactional and libertarian agreement it’s assumed to be these days. Etymologically it means to be of one feeling or disposition. God rejoiced in Mary, in the redemption he would accomplish through her, and she in turn rejoiced in his will and submitted to it. That’s the story, anyway. No one says you have to believe it.

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        • Jonathan says:

          Another way to put it: “choice” here cannot mean something like picking one of two equally desirable and available goods. The freedom Mary enjoys, in the existentially extreme moment of the annunciation, is not the freedom to do or feel whatever, or the freedom to go to Walmart rather than Costco. It is the freedom to choose *the* good, to align her will with it. And the good is obviously not just the immediately desirable or pleasant or in other words the product of her own will.

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    • Tim McGee says:

      It is true that it was presented to her as a command and not a question, However, I think the inevitability of the conception is contrary to biblical teaching. We are all commanded by God to do certain things (10 of them were provided to Moses). We do not always do what we are commanded to do. The angel of the Lord does not depart until consent is given. God doesn’t “use” us as humans. He provides us an ability to cooperate in our own salvation and, in Mary’s case, the salvation of the world.

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      • “Honor your father and your mother” is a commandment, a commandment it is possible for one to disobey, in which case one’s father or mother will not have been honored. “You will conceive” is a statement about the future by, presumably, its author. It does not seem that “you will conceive” leaves open the possibility that she wouldn’t.

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      Richard, the Greek Fathers, beginning with St Irenaeus, have read the story of the Annunciation as one of freedom: Mary’s free consent was necessary for conception of the Savior in her womb. St Nicholas Cabasilas writes:

      The Incarnation of the Word was not only the work of the Father, of hisPower [the Son], and of his Spirit – the first consenting, the second descending, the third overshadowing – but it was also the work of the will and the faith of the Virgin. Without the three divine persons this designcould not have been set in motion; but likewise the plan could not have beencarried into effect without the consent and faith of the all-pure Virgin. Only after teaching and persuading her does God make her his Mother and receivefrom her the flesh that she consciously wills to offer him. Just as he was conceived by his own free choice, so in the same way she became his Mother voluntarily and with her free consent.

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      • I was not aware of God’s having taught and persuaded Mary before she was told that she would conceive.

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        • Jonathan says:

          I can’t speak to the patristic construal. I would say that you seem to be thinking about Mary in the most literal terms possible. You also seem to be thinking of choice in the most objective and mechanistic way possible. I suppose there is a way to make Mary out to be a sort of victim, to be oppressed, even raped by God. That seems to be the direction your thought is tending, whether you mean it to or not. But if that is so of Mary, then I think it would make all of us slaves and mere instruments of God. But there is freedom in willing the necessary or, rather, the providential. Such at any rate is one proposition. Does it make sense to you, or do you disallow it?

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          • I would like to believe that I am thinking of choice in the most objective way possible, but not in the most mechanistic way possible or in any sort of a mechanistic way.

            I do worry that Mary is “a sort of victim,” though hardly of rape, in any literal sense of the term.

            I am not sure of what to say about “freedom in willing the necessary or …the providential.” Is that willing different from approving of? It may well be that Mary, having been told that she will conceive, approved of the decision. But still, it does not seem to have been her decision.

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          • Jonathan says:

            I don’t think anyone has ever interpreted he biblical story to say that it was Mary’s decision. What else was being announced than the decision of God? I’m still confused about what you’re confused about. She gave a kind of assent or consent or approval or submission. If that isn’t a kind of subjective, as opposed to objective, choice, I don’t know what is.

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          • Re: “I don’t think anyone has ever interpreted he biblical story to say that it was Mary’s decision”: Nor do I; that’s what troubles me.

            Re: my “thinking of choice in the most objective and mechanistic way possible”: I took, and still take, the phrase, “thinking of choice,” and not the word, “choice” to have been the word modified by the phrase, “in the most objective and mechanistic way possible.”

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          • Jonathan says:

            Whatever, man. I’m out. Gotta go say an Ave or something. This is not a productive discussion, nor does it appear to me you would like it to be.

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        • Robert Fortuin says:

          Rchard you make a valid point if theology were to be construed univocally. This concerns not only divine knowledge, but also that of will, power, and time.

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  3. shoreless says:

    Amen! Please help me, a rather overly-critical inquire, understand this more.

    What is the role of her intercessions?

    I know enough about prayer to know that I don’t understand it. I know that ultimately prayer is an act of love and (as is described in The Way of a Pilgrim) a form of spiritual encouragement, it’s ultimately communion with God. What then is the role of Theotokos or another Saint “presenting” our prayers to God? Perhaps this is getting too much into the mechanics of it, but I can’t wrap my head around it.

    I know and have felt encouraged by my [new] understanding that our forebears in the faith are there with us in Christ in a real sense. Their prayers comfort us and help us. But why are they a “good defense”? Why is Mary seemingly able to “change God’s mind”?

    There’s a lot going on with prayers like these in a figurative sense, and I know that the prayers of a righteous person “availeth much”, but what does it all mean from an Orthodox perspective?

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      Shoreless, I suppose the prior question is, what is the role of intercession? Only until we answer that can we talk about the intercessory role of the Theotokos.

      So why do we ask others to pray for us? I do not hesitate to do so, even though I know that God cannot be cajoled or coerced into answering anybody’s prayers. Yet somehow it feels right to do so.

      So what invite the Mother of God to pray for us? Can we think of anyone better to pray for us? 🙂

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      • shoreless says:

        And the rest is just language to help describe those prayers, I suppose?

        Father, bless!

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        • Robert Fortuin says:

          Shoreless – it is worthwhile to consider that necessity exposes a sense of utility peculiar to modern obsessions. But is utility and necessity a primary concern when it comes to prayer – do we need anyone to pray for us? Does God need creation? I like to think of prayer (as I think you do too) as concerning love, interpersonal communion and community, family, participation, empathy, kenosis of self, sharing, personal encounter, and so forth.

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          • Robert Fortuin says:

            We moderns want to get from point A to point B in the most efficient and fastest way. Results, now!

            Why bother with useless things such as beauty and love? And yet these persist as providing humanity meaning and fulfilment.

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          • shoreless says:

            I get what you’re saying. My confusion is with the language and what it speaks towards salvation. Of course we have no mediator before Christ, but the “beauty” of this prayer muddies the water for me. In my heart I love this and understand it; in my mind I’m being thrown for a loop. Why do I need her to defend me before the Lord?

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  4. Robert Fortuin says:

    Go with your heart, and you can know that without her we would not be having a chat about salvation. Language fails us: how ineffable the mystery that for our sakes the Creator should become a creature, the Immortal from a mortal take on our flesh.

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  5. Ed says:

    One of the hallmarks of both Orthodox and Catholic teaching is that God desires to save the world through his Church. If we look at Sacred Scripture, we see that this has been His plan all along. He chooses a people for Himself in order that these chosen ones should be a light to the world and so cooperate in Christ’s mission to “draw all men to himself.” How does the Church do this? Well, she does it primarily through her intercession for the world. And there is no greater intercessor than the holy Mother of God, who stood at the foot of the cross pleading for mankind and continues to do so today. There is nothing here that contradicts the unique mediatorial role of our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, all intercessory prayer derives its efficacy from Christ himself. This is a great gift to us from God. We can all help each other to draw closer to God through our prayers and sacrifices.

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