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by Sainted Gregory Palamas, ArchBishop of Thessalonika

    My present talk for your appreciation is occasioned both by love, and by necessity. I speak not only by reason of my love for you, and whereof I desire that the word of salvation should gain way to your God-loving hearing, and in such manner, be imbibed of by your souls; but also, wherein it be very needful for me, in conjunction with the churchly laudations, to expound on the majesty of the ever-Virgin Mother of God. And howso this wish, being twofold against the customary wont, doth impel and incline, and thus also inevitably need compel; though word canst not comprehend, that which is higher than any word, like as the sight canst not fix its gaze upon the sun. And insofar as it be not proper to speak about that which is beyond
all words, therein ought primarily the love for the Mother of God to be consecrated in psalmody. If "venerable in the eyes of the Lord be the death of His holy ones" (Ps. 115 [116]: 15), and "the memory of the righteous one is with praises" (Prob. 10:7), then how much moreso -- is the memory of the Holiest of the holy ones, through Whom -- hath become all sanctification for the holy ones, -- is the memory of the Ever-Virgin Mother of God, She Whose memory it now becometh us to celebrate with most exalted praises? We now make celebration of the holy Dormition, or Repose, through which was She brought low before the Angels, and yet did She excel beyond compare the Angels and the Archangels, and being over them by the consequent Power of Her closeness to God and by the fore-ordained over the ages wondrous deeds wrought over Her. It was on Her account that the God-inspired prophets did prophesy, and the miracles that beforehand did point out this great and universal wonder -- the ever-Virgin Mother of God; manifest of the Spirit; in various ways being the foretype of the future actuality; manifesting the promise to beget without seed He born of God the Father in eternity... The King of all greatly desired the mysteried beauty of the ever-Virgin, and within Her did transpire the incarnating of the Power of the MostHigh, not through darkness and fire as it was for the God-inspired Moses, and not through means of storm and clouds as was manifest His Presence to the Prophet Elias (Elijah), nor by means of some pretext did the Power from on High overshadow the all-pure and virginal womb. What inexpressibly transpired within Her and of Her was that the Word of God came forth incarnated in the flesh, "to appear upon earth and live amongst mankind" (Baruch 3: 38), deifying our nature and granting us, according to the Divine Apostle, that "which the Angels have desire to look forward to" (1 Pet. 1: 12) -- and in this is the wondrous glorification and the all-pure glory of the ever-Virgin Mary.
    And what words are there, appropriate to explain what transpired after the inexplicable birth? Whereof, the Word of God issuing from on high and begotten through Her in Her co-operating and co-willing, She also is glorified together with Him in the dignity with which He is exalted, conjoined in His great and wondrous majesty. But with the going up to Heaven of He Incarnate of Her, She in turn through what came to Her of Him, -- the excelling majesty of mind and word, as it were emulating Him with manifold deeds and prayers, and likewise solicitude for all the world, and the inspiring of preachers to all the ends of the earth. And all and everywhere She was the sole support and consoler, and in every way co-operating in the proclamation of the Gospel good-news, and clearly proving Herself in it with a life filled with struggle and mastery over mind and word. Whereof, certainly, Her life and death hath carried over into Heavenly and immortal life; and the remembrance of it is a joyous feast and universal solemnity. Into the hands of Her Son was taken the God-bearing spirit of the Ever-Virgin Mary; and indeed a short while afterwards, Her kindred body was translated by Him into the eternal Heavenly habitations. And all this was fully just and proper. In actual fact, many were vouchsafed over the ages the Divine condescension, glory and might, as David likewise sayeth: "For me exceedingly be esteemed Thine company, O God, and exceedingly assured be their dominion. I do look over them, and more than the sands be they numbered" (Ps. 138 [139]: 17-18). "Many a daughter, -- according to Solomon, -- hath acquired riches, and many have wrought power" (Prov. 31: 29-30). And here is She -- the All-Pure Virgin Mary, and She is most exceedingly exalted over all and for all: She alone hath come betwixt God and the human race, She hath wrought God the Son of Man, and humankind She hath co-made the sons of God; She hath co-made Heaven of earth and wrought of God the race of man; She alone of all surpassing all nature is manifest the Mother of God by nature, and through the mysteried Birth-giving She hath become the Queen of everything both in the world and of transcendent creation. And in such manner being exalted over all subject to Her through Her Herself, and having Herself been made participant of utmost choosing through the Divine Spirit, She is become the highest of any of the most exalted and most-blest Queen of blessed lineage.

    And now indeed She hath celestial proper habitation, as it were a palace most becoming Her, into which today She be translated from earth, to stand at the right side of the Almighty "adorned in golden robes, aglitter" (Ps. 44 [45]: 9-10), as expressed of Her by the psalmodist prophet. Beneathe the gilded garb Her God-worthy body is aglitter with manifold virtues -- wherefore She alone with the Son in God-glorified body hath celestial habitation: for the earth, the grave and death have not power to hold on ultimately to the life-originative and God-receiving body more radiant than the heavens and of heaven the habitation of the heavens. And actually, if a soul having habitation (within it) of the grace of God, forsaking the mundane, it is borne up to heaven, as becometh clear from many an example, and we do believe this: therefore, how could there not be carried up from earth to heaven that body, not only having accepted within itself the Only-Begotten and Praeternal Son of God, the inexhaustible well-spring of grace, but moreover having begotten and manifest Him? How didst Thou, though dust subject to decay, Who being yet three years of age, and not yet having in Thyself the Prae-Celestial Indwelling, not yet having begotten the Incarnated One, -- how didst Thou come to take up habitation in the Holy of Holies? [Vide 21 November account of feast of Entry of the Virgin into the Temple.] Wherefore, it is in that the body, having by nature begotten, is co-glorified with the God-becoming glory (together) with He-Begotten, and it is co-resuscitated, as expressed in prophetic song, together with the three-day first-resurrected Christ, in being His "Ark of Holiness" (Ps. 131 [132]: 8). There was, moreover, the evidence of Her resurrection from the dead for the Apostles -- the plaschanitsa and burial cloths, which alone remained in the grave and which alone were found in it by those having come to look things over: just precisely the way formerly it had transpired with Her Son and Lord. But here it was unnecessary that She should tarry a certain while upon the earth, as formerly had Her Son and God; and therefore, She was straightaway taken up from the grave into celestial habitation, from whence to shine with a resplendid radiance, illumining from thence all the earthly realm. And for all the faithful this is something worthy of veneration, worthy of praise and of song. Moreover, with what was said at the start, -- that She was diminished for a short time before the Angels (in the sense of tasting of death), -- this also should serve to the increase in everything in the majesty of the Mother of God. Wherefore also it be entirely proper that everything be united together and considered for the presentday solemnity.
    And thus it is proper, that She containing the Fulfillment of all and the Existant before all should Herself achieve all and become foremost of all by Her virtues and utmost worthiness. And thus it is, that over all the ages it helped matters that all that all the best individual figures were the best, but that they possessed only the beneficences of God (each individually) whether angelic or human, -- but all this She doth combine within Herself, and She alone inexpressibly and supra-abundantly: finding immortality through mortality, and in the flesh finding heaven together with Her Son and God, and from that time thereof there is the abundant outpouring of supra-abundant grace for all those honouring Her. She moreover doth bestow the boldness to hasten unto Her, the vessel of so many a beneficence: generously doth She distribute blessings and for us doth never cease this useful bestowing and gracious help.
    Seeing in Her the source and treasury of every blessing, whosoever declares, that the Virgin is made perfect by virtue and by living virtuously, is as one for whom there is the sensory light for the creatures living beneathe it -- which is the sun. But if he transfer his mental gaze to the Sun, eternally shining forth to mankind from This Virgin, -- if gazing towards this Sun, Which by nature and supra-abundance hath everything, which be granted Her by grace, then the Virgin therewith doth stand forth amidst the heavens. And this be so because of the deigning of God through all blessedness, that She hath attained to an inheritance, by far the most precious, moreso than any beneficence beneathe or beyond the skies, -- just as the sky is more vast than the sun, but the sun doth shine brighter than the sky.
    What word is there to describe Thine God-seemly beauty, O Virgin Mother? It is impossible indeed to explain all about Thee in reasonings and words: so much doth it exceed both mind and word. But I mustneed sing Thine praises, if Thou permit out of love for mankind. For in as Thou -- art the fount of all gracious gifts and the fullness of all righteousness, the chosen and inspired image of every blessing and every good, as only alone worthy of the gifts of the Spirit, and particularly alone as having held in Thine womb He its treasure, and having co-wrought miraculous habitation for Him; and wherefore now, having passed through mortality into immortality, and rightly gone forth from earth to Heaven, into the Praeternal habitation, Thou art become co-residing in eternal time, and there (dwellest Thou), not forsaking care for Thine inheritance, but with incessant supplications to Him moving Him to mercy for all. How much closer to God of all those closest to God is the Mother of God, and how much the greatest hath She been vouchsafed, in comparison with all (meaning not only the earth-born, but all even of the Angelic holy ranks).
    It was about the angelic chief-ranks that Isaiah earlier once wrote: "and the Seraphim do stand round about Him" (Is. 6: 2). But concerning Her [the Mother of God] on the other hand is David: "the Queen stood at Thy right side" (Ps. 44 [45]: 9-10). Do you not see the variance of standing? And from this variance it is possible to discern also the variance of rank according to worthiness: since the Seraphim -- are but around God, while next right beside Him -- the One-Only Queen, Which be praised of and glorified by God Himself, announcing as it were concerning Her to His (Angelic) Powers that are round about and saying, as was said in the Song of Songs: "Thou art fair, My Dear" (Song 6: 4), a light most sparkling, a Divine paradise most sweet and of all the world both visible and invisible the most beautiful. And She in all due justice doth stand not only nearby, but at the right side: since that, where Christ is enthroned in the Heavens, She also there now doth stand, having gone up from earth to Heaven, -- not only that She did desire this, nor mutually most of all it was wanted thus in accord with some most essential laws, but rather, it was because She is His true Throne. This Throne saw also Isaiah amidst the choir of the Seraphim and he called it high and exalted (Is. 6: 1), thus indicating (by this) the exalting of the Mother of God over the Heavenly Powers. Wherefore the prophet also did present these angels as glorifying God of Her and proclaiming: the blessing of the Glory of the Lord from His place (Ezek. 3: 12). The Patriarch Jacob, contemplatively surmising this, cried out: "for awesome be this place: this be naught other than the house of God, and this the Heavenly gate" (Gen. 28: 17). And David again, in gathering together with the multitude of the saved, as though it were to avail himself of certain tonal strings or the consonant varied notes about Her the Ever-Virgin into one harmony from over the various generations, expresses it in psalmody concerning Her, saying: "I wilt remember Thy name from every generation unto generation: whereof people shalt confess Thee unto ages of ages forever" (Ps. 44 [45]: 17-18).
    Do ye not see, that the whole of creation doth glorify This the Virgin Mother, and not only over the course of some prescribed interval, but rather unto ages of ages forever? It is possible hence to deduce, moreover, that She ceaseth not through all the ages to be of benefit to all creatures. I speak not only about us as creatures, but also about the utmost incorporeal and supernatural hierarchies, since they together with us through Her alone become conjoined and contingent to God, the Intangible Existant. Isaiah pointed this out clearly: he saw, that the Seraphim did not directly take hold the offertory coal, but took hold of it by means of a tong, by which he touched it to the mouth of the prophet, bestowing cleansing (Is. 6: 6). This vision of the tongs was identical with that great sight which Moses did contemplate -- the bush amidst the flame not consumed (Ex. 3: 2). Who knows, is not this bush and these tongs the Virgin Mother, without burn receiving the Fire of Divinity, , such that there was the Archangel present at the Conception [during the Annunciation], by which through Her was adjoined to the human race the Burier of the sin of the world cleansing us through this inexplicable conjoining? And whereof She is the one only Mediatrix betwixt the created and uncreated nature; and no one can come to God save that they be lighted forth through Her as through a truly Godly-mete luminant, since that "God is amidst Her, and wilt not be stirred therefrom" (Ps. 45 [46]: 5-6).
    If recompense be in measure of love towards God, and the loving Son be beloved of by His Father, and there be manifest the abode of Both, mysteriedly abiding and dwelling in such as conform to the promise of the Lord (Jn. 14: 21), -- then who would love Him more than His Mother, for Whom be He the Only-Begotten, but also begotten virginally, so that for Her there be a twofold cause of love of Him co-united and conjoined (with Her)? And who more than His Mother would be beloved by the Only-Begotten, -- and moreover Begotten of Her inexplicably in the fullness of time while yet having been Begotten of the One Only Father in eternity, -- how could there not be increase in conformity in mete propriety and honour befitting Her under the law, from Him Who was come to fulfill the law?
    And thus, since through Her alone was come unto us He that did "appear upon earth and live amongst mankind" (Baruch 3: 38), and before Her being unseen, such that in the time following He manifest Himself to all as the fount of Divine illumination, and the fulfilled revelation of the Divine mysteries, and the full embodiment of spiritual gifts, being moreover uncontained of all, save Her. She Herself, foremost amongst all the repository of the most exceedingly excellent plenitude of He That filleth all in all, Herself doth furnish to all of Him That containeth all, bestowing to each as is possible in accord and in proportion to the purity of each, since that She is both the repository and the Mediatrix of the riches of God.
    If such be the eternal law in the heavens, that through the less there enter into communion those having great power amidst the great, then certainly the Virgin Mother doth possess farmost exceedingly incomparable influence. It is through Her that there be conjoined to God all, who otherwise would not be conjoined. And Her they do recognise as the repository of He That containeth all, which but know God, and would praise Her together with God all who but praise God. She Herself is the pardoner of all that went before Her, and intercessor of all that came after Her, and Mediatrix of eternal blessings. She -- is the reason of the prophesies of the prophets, the principal of the Apostles, the affirmation of the martyrs, the foundation of the teachers. She -- is the glory of the earth-born, the joy of the Heavens, and the praise of all creatures. She -- is the source, the fount and tap-root of inexpressible blessings; She -- is the supreme perfecting of all the holy.
    O Virgin Divine and now Heavenly! How can I relate everything about Thee? How might I glorify Thee, Thou the Treasury of Glory? Through Thee is illumined the gaze of reason, through Thee is enlightened the spirit discerned of the Holy Spirit, in as Thou art rendered repository and vessel of Its gifts; yet not such which Thou wouldst affirm unto Thyself, but such as Thou wouldst fulfill all with the gifts of grace. For the Master of inexhaustible treasures foreordaineth them unto Thee for the bestowing; else why would He have wrought the blessings, and otherwise remain hidden and unbegotten? Wherefore, O Lady, grant abundantly to all Thy people and this Thine inheritance both Thy mercy and Thine gifts. Grant deliverance from the misfortunes afflicting us; behold, how much and how greatly we are oppressed from both without and within. By Thy might transform all for the best; bestow for our sufferings Thine help and healing, granting unto our souls and our bodies abundant grace for every need. And if we be not, make us worthy receptacles and as such vouchsafe that we, saved and strengthened by Thy grace, might glorify Him Incarnated of Thee for our sakes -- the Praeternal Word, together with His Father Without-Beginning and Life-Creating Spirit, both now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.