A life of continuous amazement

IF the soul is sober and keeps itself from distraction and forsakes its own will, then the Spirit of God comes into it; only then can the soul bring forth, for of itself it is barren.

Sayings of the desert Fathers: Abba Kronios.

Icon of the Theotokos Portaitissa at the Iveron Monastery, Mount Athos

Icon of the Theotokos Portaitissa at the Iveron Monastery, Mount Athos

The theme of fertility of soul and absorption in God is explored in this lovely passage on Mary, by Archimadrite Vasileios, who is Abbot of the Iveron Monastery on Athos.

HER life is one of continuous amazement.

She asks the child

“as He lay in her arms: ‘How wast Thou sown as seed in me? And how hast Thou grown within me, O my Deliverer and my God?'” [ed., see Vespers, Sunday before the Nativity]

She who is the unsown field is surprised.

How was the Deliverer sown as seed and how did He grow in her?

One might wonder: Did the Virgin not know how the Word had been sown as seed in her? Had not the Annunciation preceded the birth?

Certainly she knew.

And for precisely this reason, the melodist of our Church very correctly and reverently puts this question into the mouth of the Most Holy Mother of God, because this wonderful event was a permanent source of amazement for her.

“But Mary kept all these things [the words of the angels and the shepherds] pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

Spiritual life and knowledge (John 17:3) is the grace, freedom and amazement which alone rises “automatically” from the hearts of those who are offered to God.

And one who is offered wonders in bewilderment: How wast Thou sown as seed in me and how hast Thou grown within me, my son and my God? My son: the child I have borne, my labor and my flesh. And my God: my freedom, grace and transcendence.

Archimandrite Vasileios, “Hymn of Entry”, p. 107 (available from Skete.com). Vasileios then quotes Abba Kronios, as above.

**

CALLING to the ministering angel,
the Virgin sought to know unknown knowledge,
‘From a pure womb how
can a son be born? Tell me.’
He spoke to her in fear, only crying out:

HAIL, initiate of an ineffable counsel,
Hail, faith in things that demand silence.

Hail, beginning of Christ’s wonders,
Hail, crown of his teachings.

Hail, heavenly ladder by which God came down,
Hail, bridge, leading those from earth to heaven.

Hail, wonder well-known among the angels,
Hail, wound much lamented by the demons.

Hail, for ineffably you gave birth to the Light,
Hail, for to none you revealed the mystery.

Hail, you that surpass the knowledge of the wise,
Hail, you that pour light on the minds of believers.

Hail, Bride without bridegroom.

DIVINE power of the Most High
then overshadowed
for conception the one who knew not wedlock.
And he made her womb fruitful
as a fertile field for all
who wish to reap salvation
as they sing:

Alleluia!

Akathist Hymn, Salutations. Translation from Anastasis.

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