Over-honoring Mary?

Starting a new category on mariology.  I hope people don’t take this the wrong away.  I am not saying that honoring Mary is wrong.  I am not even saying that Anchoretism’s special honoring of Mary is wrong, but I am pointing out how these unguarded statements will usually be interpreted by the less-educated.

In the very words of Cabasilas, ‘Mary’s blood became God’s blood,’ by the ineffable communicatio idiomatum and by her personal effort to raise fallen humanity to its original purity and perfection. Even more so, she recreated earth and heaven and united them—angels and men–by showing to them, more directly and more clearly than ever before, the ‘enhypostasized wisdom and love of God,’ the very God and their Savior Himself. She is, therefore, the very first and last created human being who represents microcosmic and macrocosmic perfection, having fulfilled God’s purpose of creation: the original and ideal humanity perfectly united with His love and will.

Basically, everything Protestants have said of Jesus, Cabasilas is saying of Mary.  This is the most basic textbook definition of idolatry.

because our Lady is the first ‘divinized’ human creature, making all men able to rise to deification by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

I have no problem with theosis.  I have no problem with saying the Holy spirit divinizes us into the image of Christ.  That’s classic Reformed teaching on sanctification + glorification.   I Have a problem with making Mary the active agent.

That is why Gregory Palamas calls the Mother of God ‘the boundary between the created and the uncreated,’

When I translated Genesis 1 from Hebrew, one of the more powerful repetitions was raquiyy, boundary or division.  I don’t think God was thinking about Mary when he said that.

(Constantine N. Tsirpanlis, _The Mariology of Nicholas Cabasilas_)


8 comments on “Over-honoring Mary?

  1. John* says:

    This crosses the line from hyper-douleia into outright encouraged latreia.

    On the basis of this statement by Cabasilas, if the Orthodox want to be theologically consistent, and follow-through to its unavoidable conclusion, they *must* support the Roman doctrine of her Immaculate Conception.

    De-facto, Cabasilas, perhaps in spite of himself, has moved beyond Conciliar Trinitarian theology into a doctrine of “Quaternity” – where there are 4 persons in the Sacred Godhead.

  2. Starting at the end of your post, why wouldn’t God be thinking about Mary? He had a Divine plan and certainly Mary was present in the plan from the beginning. We know this because it happened. She was the boundary though right? The incarnation happened through that one woman.

    I believe the idea of whether or not she was an active agent comes back to the difference in our understanding of synergia. Do we actively receive grace? We say yes. And we say her “yes” resulted in the Christ. If she said no would it have simply fallen on another? Yes, but it didn’t.

    We know, through modern science, even though it has been known since the beginning of time, that a mother shares the flesh and blood of the child in their womb. Science now even tells us that part of that child remains even after birth. So Mary is actually the only person to be literally one body with the body of God. It was God because our Christology doesn’t allow the two natures to be separate at any time. This is the microcosmic level. Macro cosmically she is the image of all subsequent Christians who offer the same “yes” and so she is the image of the Church. She is the purpose of creation. Same as we are. She just happened to have been chosen to be this bride, not just theologically, but physically.

    All this being said, as a convert, the language sometimes used, equating Mary with savior, makes me uncomfortable to this day. It is the last issue I have. The hymns and theology of the Orthodox Church safeguard against this. I attribute it to excessive devotion but feel discarding the honor Mary deserves is not the answer.

  3. John says:

    “On the basis of this statement by Cabasilas, if the Orthodox want to be theologically consistent, and follow-through to its unavoidable conclusion, they *must* support the Roman doctrine of her Immaculate Conception.”

    That’s nonsense, as the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception arises from the Latin view of Original Sin, which the Orthodox do not share, and their attempts to bypass it in order that Christ does not bear Original Guilt, and thus nullify His sinlessness. If we must do so to be theologically consistent, then please show how this is the case, rather than just stating it matter-of-factly. I’m quite curious as to how you have come to this understanding.


    • I was going to ask the same thing.

    • Ok; does Mary have sin? If not, then it’s a relevant question, all guilt aside.

      • John says:

        Do you guys even know what the Immaculate Conception is?

        “Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

        The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.

        The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son”.136 The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love”.”

        The above is from the CCC online via the Vatican website. There is no such system of merits in Orthodoxy, there is no passing on of Original guilt either, and Mary, in Orthodoxy, was not redeemed from the moment of her conception. She needed Christ to die and rise as much as we did. All of these things are integral parts of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. How, then, can one apply this doctrine, which finds itself entrenched in categories and dogmas alien to the Orthodox Faith, to Mary as we, the Orthodox, see her?

        So no, it is not a valid question. It is a confusion of categories; categories assumed upon us, the Orthodox, that belong solely to the realm of Roman Catholic dogma.


  4. The other “John” might be talking about the IC. I am not. I am simply asking if Orthodox think Mary is sinless and/or without corruption.

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