Α) PANAGIA (MOTHER OF GOD)
Who is the most beautiful woman of the world? (I hope that what I am asking will not be strange to you!)
The most beautiful woman is the All-Holy Mother of God; more beautiful than her there has never been, nor is there such now, nor will there ever be!
A very pious Christian Orthodox, once prayed to the Mother of God to make him worthy of seeing her most pure face and in return to lose one of his two eyes!!!
Indeed, the Mother of God appeared to him and… following this, he lost – according to their agreement – one of his two eyes!!!
However, having been so much charmed by the most pleasant face of the Mother of God, he dared pray to her again to see her once more, even though… he might also lose his other eye!!!
Then, the Mother of God appeared to him again… and as he was so spiritually delighted to see her again, he gladly expected to lose his second eye and become completely blind!!!
Now, what do you think the sweet Mother of the charitable Christ and Mother of all of us Christians, did? Did she let him lose his second eye? On the contrary!
In view of the great piety of this faithful Christian, she cured his blind eye!!!
So, this Christian person, doubly felt joy and exultation:
Firstly, because he twice saw the most shining face of our Mother of God and spiritually rejoiced all the more!!! And secondly, because he regained the eyesight of both his eyes!!!
My Christian Brethren!
Β) ORTHODOXY/ ORTHOPRAXY
After our Mother of God, somebody else comes to us… – equally beautiful – (with a feminine name):
Our holy ORTHODOXY!!!
I dare consider the holy ORTHODOXY, in a way, as a “person”!!!
Let us then say this:
ORTHODOXY and ORTHOPRAXY go together always!!!
If one is missing, the other is also absent!!!
Saint Gregory the Theologian said something related to this:
“Wicked life…wicked dogmas” (that is, a wicked life results in wicked dogmas); and (the opposite): Wicked dogmas…wicked life”.
By the word dogma, we mean the teaching of faith, that is, Orthodoxy!
And by the word life, we mean the application of Faith, that is, Orthopraxy!
In other words:
• ORTHODOXY, is the correct and true knowledge of our faith and its dogmas…and
• ORTHOPRAXY is the correct and knowledgeable application of all that our faith teaches…
And as we said above, Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy always go together!!!
When one is missing, the other is also absent!!!
Let us now say a last story in combination of the above two, A) and B) (MOTHER OF GOD-ORTHODOXY) to finally close this P.A.:
A hermit had a vision of Panagia (the Mother of God), passing by his cell…
Naturally, he stopped her and pleaded with her to enter into his cell and bless it!
However, the Panagia refused and told him in a strict manner:
- I cannot enter into a place in which there is the enemy of my Son!!!
When the vision ended, the hermit was wondering what was in his cell that caused the Mother of God to tell him these harsh words…
Perturbed, he opened a spiritual book, in order to calm himself and let his mind clear…
Opening it, he noticed accidentally (?), that at the end of the book there was an article by the heretic Nestorius, who has fallen away from Orthodoxy…
Nestorius believed in two Christs (!!!), that is, in two separate persons in the two natures of Christ:
One person for Christ-the man who was born by the Virgin Mary and another person for Chris-the God who was begotten by God the Father; oh what a blasphemy!
Instead, the Orthodox Dogma correctly believes and accepts that the two natures of Christ, Divinity and Humanity, are united in the one Person of God Logos (the Word of God)!
We now come back to the hermit who had realized the problem of the Mother of God… He tore up the papers of the heretic Nestorius and burned them!
The same evening the Mother of God appeared to him again (this time looking content) and entered in modesty to the cell of the hermit and with a light smile blessed him and his hermitage…
The above beautiful story shows us the relation that our MOTHER OF GOD has with our holy ORTHODOXY!!!
PANAGIA, the MOTHER OF GOD, is the common Mother of all Christian Orthodox!
One of the Fathers of our Church (Father Joseph Vryennios, a scholar Monk of Studion Monastery in Constantinople, who lived in the 15th century and was a Father and Teacher of our Church) used to say:
«We shall never deny you, oh dear ORTHODOXY! We shall never be liars against you, as you are so much respected and as you were handed to us by our holy Fathers! Within you, dear Orthodoxy, we were born, within you we live and move, and for you we shall die as Orthodox! And even if time and circumstances call upon us, thousands of times shall we gladly die for you, so that we may keep you pure and unadulterated!»
I would like to finish by saying:
• ORTHODOXY is the true, genuine, pure and unadulterated Christianism, as taught by Christ – and by extension – by the holy Apostles and the holy Fathers of our Church… Whereas,
Let us all stand upright, with fear (and awe)!