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The Uniqueness of the Virgin Mary
by Lee Kopulos

If you look very closely at the Icon of the Holy Virgin and Christ child, you obviously see the person of Mary, Mother of God. And that's what it says, " I am the Mother of God." If you look at it a little closer, you will see that she never looks at you. That's kind of strange. She is contemplating. Now look a little bit further. You see that she's really not holding the Christ Child either. She does not hold the Christ Child. If you keep looking at her and the Christ Child, you will see that there is a sort of tenderness - there is a love and yet there is a bit of distance. There is a reality of ideas here. He is my Son, no, He is true God. He is true God and He is true man. If you look a little bit further, you would probably begin to understand the great theology of the Church that teaches us about what Christ is, and who He is. It is because of who He is that the Holy Virgin Mary is unique.

The icons of the Virgin Mary say things about her, because as you know, we sing to her, we venerate her, we say prayers to her in Liturgy, and we ask that she will intercede, protect, and save us. She is not a simple instrument of God. She is a very complex and a very strong humble person. She has great humility and understanding of God.. what the angels told her to do...the part she has to play. So when we turn to her in prayer, think of all these things.

She is the God-bearer, Birthgiver and Theotokos. She is definately a unique woman. She has to be unique because if Christ is true God and true Man, then He must have come from God, and must have had a unique birth. That is why there is so much emphasis on the virginity of this Blessed Lady as virgin and ever virgin. That is why there is so much emphasis about how clean and pure is is. Look at her own history, how she was conceived, how she was raised, when she was taken to the Temple, and when the Prophetess Anna foretold truths about her that she would, in effect, bear the Savior of the world. She is definately a unique figure.

But St. Mary is also a "link" figure. She is a link figure from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Isaiah 7:14 says "a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name be called Emanuel[God with us]." She gave birth to the Messiah. Then we know of St. John the Baptist who was a son of her cousin Elizabeth, and he is, as we call him, a forerunner. He is the man who helped pave the road for Christ. She is also a forerunner. She paved the road for Christ by giving birth. The God-bearer Mary is a perfect example of that link between the Old Testament and the New, because she is the one that helped link it. God went to her to link that association in order to bring the Messiah to us to save our souls. So she is really a perfect open book, she is a perfect example of God and His love for us and His love for everyone.

There is a little bit I would like to insert here from a recent article that I picked up entitled "Theotokos, the Best Model". A woman, who is a corporate excutive and an Orthodox Chritian, wrote this. This is what she has to say about how the Theotokos helps her, and how the Theotokos is a model for her in her daily living.

"In a setting such as this, where do we turn for direction? The most obvious course to follow, I believe, is the one set by the Theotokos. There is no higher or worthier "Role Model" that Mary. During her life on earth she showed strength, purity, love and prayerfulness. She was willing to endure whatever suffering God asked of her. She was admired and held in esteem by those who knew her then, and continues to be our model today.

No doubt, some women may find Mary lacking by thinking that they cannot imitate Mary in their professional role because she didn't know how to read a profit and loss statement, or make a fiscal report before a group of executive vice presidents, or know the very latest management technique. But what Mary does offer us to imitate is her total abandonment of self to follow God's plan for her, in the face of overwhelming odds and public critism. As women of the 20th century, our task is one of discerning God's plan for us in whatever we do. It has been said that the role of Orthodox women today is to restore the devastated souls of men. There are certainly plenty of spiritually devastated men and women in the professional world. Perhaps we executive women are where we are in order to bring the love of God to others who move in these circles, rather than to compete with them for money and position.

In conclusion, I believe that a woman in the professional world should abandon the idea that she has to behave like a man in order to do well. I believe that she can maintain her feminity and help other women in pioneering this New World by keeping the Theotokos in view and praying to her. Mary is, after all, the quintessential example of feminine Spirituality-in or out of the corporate world.

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