FAQ: The Role of Mary

Why does the Orthodox Faith emphasize the role of Mary?

Let us turn to the New Testament and see what God says about Mary. A key passage is Luke 1:26-49.

The Archangel Gabriel calls the Virgin Mary "highly favored" with God (see also Luke 1:30) and the most "blessed" of all women (Luke 1:28). We must never do less.

In Luke 1:42, 43, Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, also calls Mary "blessed," and "the mother of my Lord." Can we make the same confession? For centuries, the Church with one voice has called Mary the mother of God. If God was not in her womb, we are dead in our sins. By "mother of God" we do not mean, of course, that she is mother of the Holy Trinity. She is mother of the eternal Son of God, the Theotokos or God-bearer.

Not only does Elizabeth call her blessed, Mary herself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, predicts, "All generations will call me blessed" (Luke 1:48). This biblical prophecy explains the Orthodox hymn, "It is truly right to bless you, O Theotokos, the Mother of our God." Tragically, our generation has forgotten to call her blessed. Orthodox Christians bless her in obedience to God, fulfilling His holy words.

It is important to secure Mary's identity as the mother of God to protect the identity of her holy Son, "the Son of the Highest" (Luke 1:32), God in the flesh. If we cannot face up to Mary, we will miss the incarnation of the Son of God.

The Old Testament Prophet Ezekiel writes, "This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut" (Ezekiel 44:2). The early Church Fathers consistently saw this gate as a picture of the womb of Mary, shut after Jesus' birth. We do not worship Mary. Worship is reserved only for God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We honor or venerate her, as the Scriptures teach.