Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Mary's Month

File:OL of Pew.jpg

Our Lady of Pew, Westminster Abbey.

The Anglican theologian Hugh Montefiore, formerly Bishop of Birmingham, wrote of the Blessed Virgin: "Christians rightly honour and venerate her as one of the great saints of God. God had signally honoured her by choosing her to be the mother of Jesus.".  Actually, so does Islam: here's a little list of the tittles of the BVM in the Qu'ran.
  • Qānitah: Mary is so called in LXVI: 12. The term implies, not only constant submission to God, but also absorption in prayer and invocation, meanings that coincides with the Islamic tradition of Mary spending her childhood in the temple of prayer. In this way, Mary personifies prayer and contemplation in Islam.
  • Siddiqah: She who confirms the truth or She who has faith. Mary is called Siddiqah twice in the Quran (V: 73-75 LXVI: 12). The term has also been translated, She who believes sincerely completely.
  • Sājidah: She who prostrates to God in worship. The Quran states: “O Mary! Worship your Lord devoutly: prostrate yourself” (Quran III: 43). While in Sujud, a Muslim is to praise God and glorify Him. In this motion, which Muslims believe to be derived from Marian nature, hands, knees and the forehead touch the ground together.
  • Rāki’ah: She who bows down to God in worship. The Quran states: “O Mary! Bow down in prayer with those men, who bow down.” The command was repeated by angels only to Mary, according to the Muslim view. Ruku' in Muslim prayer during prayer has been derived from Mary’s practise.
  • Tāhirah: She who was purified (Quran III: 42)
  • Mustafia: She who was chosen. The Quran states: “O Mary! God has chosen you and purified you and again he has chosen you above all women of all nations of the worlds” (Quran III:42).
  • Sa’imah: She who fasts. Mary is reported to fast one-half of a year in some Muslim traditions.
Personally, I couldn't disagree with any of those descriptions of Our Lady.  Perhaps she could be a patron of Inter-Faith dialogue?  In that spirit, let us praise her in the Orthodox idiom:

It is truly meet and right to bless you, O Theotokos,
Ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God.
More honourable than the Cherubim, 
and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim,
Without defilement you gave birth to God the Word.
True Theotokos, we magnify you! 
 
From the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom.

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