Only When We Descend in Humility Can We Ascend to the Heavens
August 2020 | Issue No. 11
“When we start attaining the grace of humility in our souls, we feel that we are nothing and that God is everything in our lives.
Then, our hearts will be filled with the peace of the divine presence which is beyond description“
Fr Joshua’s Message
St Mary the Theotokos has held a distinct position of admiration and love among Christians from the early times of Christianity. This is because of her great virtues, her help to the needy, and her preeminent humble role in God’s plan for the salvation of mankind.
The Virgin Mary, having given herself entirely up to God, ardently desired the coming of the Saviour. In Her humility She considered Herself unworthy to even be the servant-girl of the Virgin Who was to give Him birth. . So that nothing might distract her from prayer and heedfulness to herself, St Mary vowed herself to God offering her whole life to Him, in order to please only Him.
She accepted to be betrothed to the elderly Joseph when her age no longer allowed her to remain in the Temple.
Mary received the angelic good tidings humbly and submissively. “Then the Word, in a way known to Himself, descended and, as He Himself willed, came and entered into Mary and abode in her” – St. Ephraim the Syrian. The power of that seduction by which the virgin Eve, already betrothed to a man, had been wickedly seduced was broken when the angel in truth brought good tidings to the Virgin Mary, who already by her betrothal belonged to a man. For as Eve was seduced by the word of an angel to flee from God, having rebelled against His Word, so Mary by the word of an angel received the glad tidings that she would bear God by obeying His word. The former was seduced to disobey God and so fell, but the latter was persuaded to obey God so that the Virgin Mary might become the advocate of Eve. As the human race [NT Vol. III, p. 20] was subjected to death through the act of a virgin, so was it saved by a virgin was precisely balanced by the obedience of another. Then indeed the sin of the first-formed man was amended by the chastisement of the First Begotten, the wisdom of the serpent was conquered by the simplicity of the dove, and the chains were broken by which we were in bondage to death” – St Irenaeus
Our Lord was not born under wealthy nor even average middle-class circumstances. St. Mary did not live in a palace or a comfortable house. She was unknown to and by other women. She was not the subject of jealousy or envy; for she neither wore jewellery nor adorned her body with silk. It was never written about her that she used cosmetics nor wore expensive perfumes, which were very common and essential for the women of her time.
The Most Holy Virgin Mary serves as a great example to all those who are striving for perfection. She was the first who decided to dedicate her whole life to God and who showed that voluntary virginity is higher than wedded life. This is why St Augustine contemplates reminding us that “Indeed, her virginity was itself more beautiful and more pleasing, because Christ, in His conception, did not Himself take away that which He was preserving from violation by humanity; but, before He was conceived He chose one already consecrated to God of whom He would be born”.
From the first centuries, in emulating her and her Son and other prophets and apostles, many Christians began to pass their life in virginity, prayer, fasting, meditation and contemplation. Thus, the monastic life arose, and there appeared many monasteries which became sources of inspiration for a pious life and spiritual wisdom.
In reviewing the earthly life of the Theotokos, it is essential to emphasize that, just as at the moment of her greatest glory, when she was chosen to become the Mother of the Saviour, as well as at the hour of her greatest grief, by the prophecy of the righteous Simon, as she stood at the foot of the Cross when “a sword pierced her soul,” she displayed complete humility, selfcontrol and faith in God. In all events, big or small, she invariably manifested the strength and beauty of her virtues: humility, perseverance, patience, courage, hope in the Lord and unbounded love for Him! That is why we Christians hold her in such high esteem and want to emulate her.
“Indeed, her virginity was itself more beautiful and more pleasing, because Christ, in His conception, did not Himself take away that which He was preserving from violation by humanity; but, before He was conceived He chose one already consecrated to God of whom He would be born”.