Rejoice, O Virgin – A Blessed Feast

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About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a retired Archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, and Face to Face: Knowing God Beyond Our Shame, as well as the Glory to God podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.





8 responses to “Rejoice, O Virgin – A Blessed Feast”

  1. fatherstephen Avatar

    Rejoice, O Virgin, Theotokos, the Lord is with thee.
    Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
    For thou hast born the Savior of our Souls.

    Setting by Arlo Part, contemporary composer.

  2. joelandawn Avatar

    thank you for posting this. Arvo Part is one of my favorite composers. I particularly appreciate his representing the Orthodox faith within the contemporary art-music world. Another composer writing from a thoroughly Christian standpoint (a mystical Catholicism) is Olivier Messiaen. One Of his most famous pieces is “The Quartet for the End of Time” which was written and performed for the first time while Messiaen was in a Nazi prison camp. In a way similar to Part writing liturgically influenced music while living in Communist controlled Estonia.

    As an aside: I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while now. It has been very helpful and thought provoking. Thank you.

  3. Darla Avatar

    Father, bless. We had a wonderful visit to the bigger church our mission is part of for the feast today. We love going down there! We met with our priest after the service, and will become catechumens (all nine of us!) tomorrow. Glory to God! Thank you for this blog, and the part it has played (and will continue to play) in our journey home.

  4. Asiaticus Avatar

    In the Old Orthodox version it reads after “the fruit of thy womb”: For thou hast born Christ the Saviour, the Deliverer of our souls.

  5. luciasclay Avatar

    Relating to the Blessed Virgin is a passage in Genesis which I understand the Western Church to apply as a prophecy of Mary, Gen 3:15 “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” Douay

    This differs from the various protestant readings I grew up with. They change the gender and remove its relevance to Mary.

    How is this understood by the Orthodox, how has it always been understood by the Greeks, how is it rendered in the Slavonic, etc. Which reading is the one of tradition and which is the innovation.

    Does the Eastern and Western Church agree that this is a prophecy of Mary ?

  6. fatherstephen Avatar

    The Eastern fathers are pretty unanimous of Mary as the “Second Eve” and this prophecy referring to Christ, “Mary’s seed.” But the Septuagint, which tends to have authority in many Greek Eastern fathers, has the translation as masculine rather than feminine – thus it is Christ who bruises Satan’s head. But it is still seen as a prophecy (the woman) as referring to the mother of God (she who is the mother of the one who bruises Satan’s head).

    My Slavonic Bible is at the parish this afternoon – so I’m at a loss on that question. I would tend to favor the Hebrew and the Greek when they agree, over the Vulgate. But no particular Marian doctrine turns on this matter for the Orthodox. Protestants just don’t have a horse in the race on questions of Mary. They do not properly regard her at all and are pretty much non-starters when the conversation turns in that direction.

    Coming to grasp with the simple reality of what it means that Mary is the mother of the incarnate Word of God is missing in Protestant thought. It often seems to me like a “rent a womb” treatment, instead of grasping the issue that she is bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh. The union with Christ is physical as well as spiritual – it could not be more profound. I think that the treatment of Mary is perhaps the weakest thing in all of Protestant thought – betraying the lack of mystical awareness and the lack of a doctrine of true koinonia, participation or union with Christ – particularly regarding our salvation.

  7. luciasclay Avatar

    Father Stephen,

    Thank you.

  8. Nikolaus Avatar

    Thank you Father! Paert is one of my favorites. Who is the choir?

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