The Theotokos


Introduction (Ages 18+)

Christianity is unique in giving the world a true understanding of God as having humbled Himself, in the Person of Jesus Christ, so that He could share and redeem our life. No other faith teaches, in the same way that Christianity does, that God would "demean" Himself by becoming Man. No other faith gives humankind the joyful news that by undergoing and overcoming an excruciating death, Jesus Christ destroyed death's power over us forever.

But our loving God is so careful of our freedom that He did not come to us in a flashy and overwhelming miracle. He sought human cooperation, and that came in the person of a young woman who lived in worldly circumstances of poverty and powerlessness. The young woman faced the brutal possibility that she would be stoned to death for fornication.  Her willingness to face that hard reality, to cooperate with God's will, came from her faith.

This unit is intended to help students see why the Orthodox Church honors that young woman, the Holy Virgin Mary and Theotokos. She had faith that all would be as the angel Gabriel promised her it would. So she said to him, "Let it be." With those words, she consented to God's plan for our salvation. How could we not honor her, above all other saints, when it is her co-operation that puts God's plan into action?

That brings us to one of several things we want students to know: Mary was not forced or obligated to consent to God's plan. She could have said "no." She is our model, born with free will as we all are, of one who chose to say "yes" to God, as we can also do.

We also want students to be aware of the reason for the Church's emphasis on Mary's ever-virginity.   (This applies mostly to older students, who are dealing with questions of sexuality in their own lives.) The translation of the Hymn to the Theotokos ("More honorable...") most commonly used in our OCA churches states: "Without defilement you gave birth to God the Word; true Theotokos, we magnify you." Students will be learning this hymn as part of the unit, so it is important that they understand its meaning properly. The word "defilement" is not the only way to translate the original words, and should not lead students to think that normal human sexual intercourse is considered "dirty" or "defiling" by the Church. The word only points to the miracle of this birth: Jesus was born without a human father, by the power of God, while still taking flesh from His mother. This was the divine/human birth of the divine/human Son of God.

Overall Objectives of the Unit

  1. Understand the importance of the Theotokos as an intercessor in our relationship with Jesus Christ and
  2. Understand the importance of the Theotokos as a model for us today.

Keeping these two objectives in mind can help us, as teachers, focus on the important fact that every worship service in the Orthodox Church contains one or more references to Mary. She also is given the the title of honor, established at the Third Ecumenical Council in Ephesus (451), of "Theotokos" or Birthgiver of God.

Fr. Alexander Schmemann describes Mary's place in our faith in this way:

The veneration of the Virgin Mary is a necessary component of our faith: The image of the Virgin Mary, the Virgin Mother, stands [as] the image of infinite humility and purity, filled with beauty and strength; the image of love and the victory of love.  The Virgin Mary, the All-Pure Mother demands nothing and receives everything. She pursues nothing and possesses all. In the image of the Virgin Mary, we find compassion, tender-heartedness, care, trust, humility. We call her Our Lady and the Queen of Heaven and Earth, and yet she calls herself "the hand-maid of the Lord." ..  Christ said, 'Do not be anxious. Seek first the Kingdom of God' (see Mt 6:33). Beholding this woman - Virgin Mother, Intercessor - we begin to sense, to know not with our mind, but with our heart, what it means to seek the Kingdom, to find it, and to live by it.

THE VIRGIN MARY: THE CELEBRATION OF FAITH
by Alexander Schmemann, pages 21 - 22.

How the Unit is Arranged

The unit is comprised of five lessons of about 45-60 minutes each.  The first four each deal with a feast of Mary, and are presented in the order in which those feasts come in the Church calendar. This order also corresponds to the chronology of Mary's life. It's suggested that the Troparion and Kontakion for each feast be used as opening and closing prayers, respectively, of the sessions in which they are covered.  The fifth session deals with five icons of the Theotokos.

The lessons have each been written on five levels: ages 4-6, ages 7-9, ages 10-12, ages 13-17, and ages 18+.  The ages 13-17 may be split into two groups, older and younger, for discussions.  For each level in a session, there is a lesson plan. All the lesson plans contain the following parts:

  • The lesson theme
  • The age group for which the session is intended
  • The lesson title
  • A series of objectives 
    Objectives are things that the students should be able to do as a result of the session. Objectives should be things the teacher can measure.  Objectives contain verbs such as define, name, list, explain, tell, and other measurable actions. Through questions and discussion, teachers can ascertain whether students are able to fulfill these objectives. If they are not able to do so, teachers will know that review or repetition are necessary.
  • Resources and Materials Needed.
    These are the various materials the teacher will need to teach the session and meet the objectives. These include icons, art, photos, liturgical texts, Bible stories and passages, and craft materials that will be part of the session. 
  • Procedure This is a step-by step outline of how the session should go.

It is truly meet to bless you, O Theotokos,
ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God.
More honorable than the Cherubim,
and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim,
without defilement you gave birth to God the Word.
True Theotokos, we magnify you!

The Nativity of the Theotokos (September 8) (Ages 18+)

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Overview

Mary's connection to humanity and God's love - Mary's connection to humanity and God's love
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Objectives

By the end of this Lesson, learners should be able to:

  • Tell why Joachim and Anna’s patience and humility are important in God’s plan
  • Contrast the obedience of Mary, the “new Eve”, with the disobedience of the first Eve
  • Describe similarities between the icon of Mary’s nativity and the icon of the Lord’s Nativity
  • Give examples of God’s abiding love, culminating in Mary’s birth
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Materials

  • You may wish to make copies of the instructions for the group activity so that each of the three groups willl have them
  • Have copies of the story of the Nativity of the Theotokos for each group
  • Bibles, paper and pencils will be needed for each group
  • Genesis, chapters 2 and 3.
  • Liturgical Texts
  • Icon of the Nativity of the Theotoko
  • Icon of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
  • Icon of the Resurrection (be sure to choose one in which Christ can be seen pulling Eve as well as Adam from the power of death)
  • Icon of the Conception of the Theotokos by Anna.  
  • The Icon Book (For all but the Icon of the Conception of the Theotokos by Anna, use the descriptions in The Icon Book to discuss the icons with participants.)
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Procedure

1

Opening Prayer

Troparion (Tone 4)

Your Nativity, O Virgin,
Has proclaimed joy to the whole universe!
The Sun of righteousness, Christ our God,
Has shone from you, O Theotokos.
By annuling the curse, He bestowed a blessing.
By destroying death, He has granted us eternal life.


2

Story of the Nativity of the Theotokos

Ask the group to think about ways in which our faith and patience are tested. We often have to wait for God’s answer to our prayers, and live under circumstances that really test our faith.

Then, read The Story of the Nativity of the Theotokos (from the Resource Section) together. Ask participants to keep in mind the points you have mentioned as you read.


3

Examining the Nativity of the Theotokos through hymnography and iconography and scripture

Print out and complet the activity: Examining the Nativity of the Theotokos through hymnography and iconography and scripture found in the Resource Section

4

Icon of the Nativity of the Theotokos

Present the following quotation from the writings of Father Alexander Schmemann to the group. Let them think about it as they look at the icon of the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos. Ask them to comment on what it means to look at the icon “with our spiritual eyes”:

 “Nothing about this event is mentioned anywhere in the Holy Scriptures. But why should there be? Is there anything remarkable, anything especially unique about the normal birth of a child, a birth like any other? And if the Church began to commemorate the event with a special feast, it was not because the birth was somehow unique or miraculous or out of the ordinary: but because, on the contrary, the very fact that it is routine discloses something fresh and radiant about everything we call ‘routine’ and ordinary; it gives new depth to the “unremarkable” details of human life.

 What do we see in the icon of the feast when we look at it with our spiritual eyes? There on the bed lies a woman, Anna according to Church tradition, who has just given birth to a daughter. Next to her is the child’s father, Joachim, according to the same tradition. [In many versions of the icon] a few women stand by the bed washing the newborn baby for the first time. The most routine, unremarkable event.

 Or is it? Could it be that the Church is telling us through the icon that every birth, every entrance of a new human being into the world and life is a miracle of miracles, a miracle that explodes all routine, for it marks the start of something unending, the start of a unique unrepeatable human life. The beginning of a new person. And with each birth, the world is itself in some sense created anew and given as a gift to the new human being to be his life, his path, his creation.”


5

Closing Prayer

Close with a prayer, using one or more of the hymns as part of it.


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The Entrance of the Theotokos (November 21) (Ages 18+)

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Overview

Mary's holiness and purity
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Objectives

By the end of this Lesson, learners should be able to:

  • Relate the events of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple to Psalm 45, verses 10-15
  • Describe four women, saints of the Church, whose service to God has been outstanding and who have things in common with the Theotokos
  • Compare the icons of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple to that of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple
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Materials

  • Bibles - Psalm 45
  • Icon of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple
  • Icon of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple 
  • Liturgical Hymns of the Feast
  • The Icon Book
  • Paper
  • Pencils
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Procedure

1

Opening Prayer

Troparion of the Feast - Tone 4

Today is the prelude of the good will of God,
Of the preaching of the salvation of mankind,
The Virgin appears in the temple of God’
In anticipation proclaiming Christ to all,
Let us rejoice and sing to her:
Rejoice, O fulfillment of the Creator’s dispensation!

Kontakion of the Feast - Tone 4

The most pure Temple of the Savior, the precious chamber and virgin,
The sacred Treasure of the glory of God is presented today to the house of the Lord.
She brings with her the grace of the Spirit which the angels of God do praise,
Truly this woman is the abode of heaven!


2

Story of the Feast

Read the story of the feast (found in the Resouce Section) together:

After reading the story, note again the words of the Troparion and the Kontakion. Mary enters the Temple of God, and later herself “becomes” the most pure Temple of the Savior by being willing to carry Him in her womb. In this way she becomes the “fulfillment of the Savior’s dispensation”—this last word referring to His plan for our salvation.


3

Psalm Discussion

Read Psalm 45, verses 10-15 together. Discuss: How do these words foretell the event of Mary’s entrance into the Temple? (The Church has understood Mary to be the woman referred to here. She enters God’s palace in a special way. Using a word from the Troparion, we might say that these psalm verses are a “prelude” of Mary’s entrance into the Temple.)

4

Icon of the Feast

 Look together at the two icons: Mary’s Entrance into the Temple, and the Presentation of Christ to the Temple. Use The Icon Book to compare the two. The event of Mary’s entrance is a “prelude” for the Presentation of Christ to the Temple later. In that event, the Old Testament law is respected (all firstborn sons had to be presented, according to the law.) But it is also fulfilled, as Simeon proclaims when he identifies the child Jesus as the Messiah for whom he and the Jewish people have been waiting

5

Women Saints

Divide the participants into four groups. Assign each group one of the following saints: Nonna, Paraskeva the New, the Protomartyr Thecla, and Eupraxia. Details for this are provided in the Notes in the Resorce Section.

Ask each group to consider the brief notes about the saint. The groups can also notice ways in which each woman’s story has something in common with the life of the Theotokos. (Some commonalities are suggested in the Notes in the Resource Section, but groups may come up with different ones.)

After the groups have found out about their saints, reconvene the participants as a whole and let each group tell about its saint. Complete the discussion by reminding everyone that many women have been called to important service to God, and are honored by the Church for doing it well.

Though the Theotokos’ role in God’s plan is unique and unrepeatable, we all have a place in that same plan. The saints, and specifically many women saints, stand out as examples for us as we strive to fulfill the part of the plan that He has designated for each of us.


6

Closing Prayer

Troparion of the Feast - Tone 4

Today is the prelude of the good will of God,
Of the preaching of the salvation of mankind,
The Virgin appears in the temple of God’
In anticipation proclaiming Christ to all,
Let us rejoice and sing to her:
Rejoice, O fulfillment of the Creator’s dispensation!

Kontakion of the Feast - Tone 4

The most pure Temple of the Savior, the precious chamber and virgin,
The sacred Treasure of the glory of God is presented today to the house of the Lord.
She brings with her the grace of the Spirit which the angels of God do praise,
Truly this woman is the abode of heaven!


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The Annunciation (March 25) (Ages 18+)

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Overview

Mary's obedience and humility - Mary's obedience and humility
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Objectives

By the end of this Lesson, learners should be able to:

  • Describe the poem of Hannah in I Samuel as a preview of Mary's Magnificat in the Gospel of Luke
  • Contrast Marys attitude toward Gabriels announcement with that of Zachariah
  • State that God’s plan for human salvation depends on human:particularly Mary’s co-operation
  • Formulate an answer to a writer who claims that Mary has no important place in Christian teaching
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Materials

  • Bibles: I Samuel 2: 1-10, Luke 1: 26-55, Luke 1: 5-20
  • Icon of the Annunciation
  • Liturgical Texts for the feast
  • Story of the Annunciation
  • Icon Book
  • Paper
  • Pencils
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Procedure

1

Opening Prayer

Troparion - Tone 4

Today is the beginning of our salvation,
The revelation of the eternal mystery!
The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin,
As Gabriel announces the coming of Grace.
Together with him let us cry out to the Theotokos!
Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with you.

2

Story of the Annunciation

Read aloud the story of the Annunciation with the students that is found in the Resource Section.

3

Scripture Reading/Discussion

Read Luke 1: 36-45, and discuss the following questions.

  1. Some Christians object to Mary being called “Mother of God” even though the early Church decided this was an appropriate title. Where in this passage do we find Scriptural basis for the title? (Elizabeth’s words in verse 43.)
  2. What is the first thing Mary does after her encounter with Gabriel? What does it tell us about her? (She immediately goes to tell her good news to her older cousin Elizabeth, as we read in verse 39. Obviously she is a gregarious, loving person who likes to share joy and be among people. She is hardly the spiritless, solemn person that some portray her to be.)
  3. Remind the group that in the past two sessions we have noted several ways in which the Old Testament prepared us for the New Testament. The triumphant song which Mary sings in Luke 1: 46-55 is also “foretold” in the Old Testament. Read Mary’s song, and then read together the song of Hannah, the mother of Samuel, in I Samuel 2: 1-10. Note the similarities, and point out that this is one more way that this is one more way that God prepared His people for the coming of the Savior.

4

Icon of tIhe Annunciation

Look together at the icon of the Annunciation. Read the description in The Icon Book. Though the details in various versions of the icon may differ, one point is always the same: Mary with Gabriel was hesitant but not cynical; questioning but not disbelieving.

5

Scripture Reading/Hymnography

Read together Luke 1: 5-20. Then look together at the verses of the Apostikha for the Feast of the Conception of St. John the Baptist, to see how the Church has written them based on the Biblical account.  (Gabriel has told the priest Zachariah that his wife Elizabeth will bear a son, John the Baptizer or Forerunner. The following verses are Zachariah’s response)

Apostikha for the Feast of the Conception of John the Baptist

Tell me clearly, how will I know this? Answered the blessed elder [Zachariah]

For as you see I am full of days and Elizabeth is barren.

How do you utter words beyond nature?

I am amazed and now suspect, O man, that you speak not the truth.

Depart, for I ask the salvation of the people,

And not to acquire a son;

Such a thing cannot be believed!

Ask the class:

  1. “What kind of person does Zachariah seem to be?” (Point out that he is certainly a person with his own agenda, not willing to accept what Gabriel tells him.)
  2. “Why does Gabriel react so negatively to Zachariah?” (Stress the difference between his attitude and that of the Virgin Mary when Gabriel visits her. Though she is confident and strong enough to question the angel in a sensible way, she does not do so with cynicism or doubtfulness. She is a person of faith but also of humility, as described above in the story for the feast of the Annunciation. She is willing to let God be in charge, not blocking His access to her life as Zachariah does. Her attitude is an example of what Christians mean when they talk about humility.)
  3. Point out that we, too, sometimes have trouble in putting aside our own plans for our lives, and letting God be in charge. The difference between Mary and Zachariah is a good reminder of how we need to shape our own attitudes with Mary as the example. 

6

Discussion

Divide the class into three groups. Put this statement from a contemporary writer on the chalkboard:

 “Women today need the example of a capable, powerful woman who knows what life is all about. The Virgin Mary sends all the wrong messages to modern women: she’s silent, and pale, and she just does what God tells her to without a word. Her example really has no place in women’s lives today.”

 Ask each group to formulate an answer to this writer. The groups can use any information from this and the previous two sessions.

 When the groups have finished, call everyone back together and let the groups report on their decisions. Close the session with prayer.


7

Closing Prayer

Kontakion of the Feast - Tone 8

 

O victorious leader of triumphant hosts!

We, your servants, delivered from evil, sing our grateful thanks to you, O Theotokos!

As you possess invincible might set us free from every calamity

So that we may sing: Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride.

 

Notice that the hymn tells us that Mary “possesses invincible might.” This reminds us of her willingness and ability to pray for us and intercede, as she did at the wedding in Cana. It also reminds us, once again, that she is not a passive or weak person but a strong one who loves us and will pray for us.


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The Dormition of the Theotokos (August 15) (Ages 18+)

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Overview

Our Salvation and Christ's perfect love - Our Salvation and Christ's perfect love
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Objectives

By the end of this Lesson, learners should be able to:

  • Retell the story of the Dormition of the Theotokos as a joyful, not sorrowful event
  • Explain why we say that the Theotokos fell asleep not into death, but into life
  • Recognize the words “Assumption” and “Repose” as other, related, names for the feast
  • Examine the texts of the Old Testament readings assigned to the Vigil for the feast and how they relate to the feast
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the icon of the feast
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Materials

  • Bible Passages: Genesis 28:10-17; Ezekiel 43:27-44:4; Proverbs 9:1-11
  • Icon of the Dormition
  • Story of the Dormition of the Theotokos based on traditional sources
  • The Icon Book
  • Liturgucal Texts of the Feast
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Resources


Required Resources Optional Resources
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Procedure

1

Opening Prayer

Troparion of the Dormition - Tone 1

In giving birth you preserved your virginity!
In falling asleep you did not forsake the world, O Theotokos!
You were translated to life, O Mother of Life,
and by your prayers you deliver our souls from Death!

Discuss the use of the term “falling asleep,” using the Notes for the Teacher above to help with understanding the concept.(5 minutes)

Say: We have studied three other major feast days of the Theotokos. Today we are going to study her Dormition. Sometimes we hear this feast referred to as the Falling Asleep of the Theotokos, or the Assumption.


2

Story: The Dormition (Falling Asleep) of the Theotokos

Read the story of the Dormition (found in the Resource Section) together: 

After reading the story, look again at the troparion. Point out to the class that two miracles about the Theotokos are compared. First, she gave birth to a child even though there was no human father—she “preserved her virginity.” Second, though she “fell asleep” or died, she lives in the Kingdom of God. Both of these show us God’s greatness. Ask the class, “What does the troparion tell us that Mary does now, in the Kingdom?” (She prays for us.)

Discuss the important place Mary has in the life and tradition of the Church and how her Dormition reflects this.

 

 


3

Icon of the Dormition

Look at the icon of the feast together, using the description in The Icon Book to explain details. Ask students how the icon shows that Mary’s death is a special one. (As the book points out, Jesus is shown taking His Mother, whose soul and body are now reunited, to the heavenly Kingdom rather than leaving her to lie in the grave. No other human being has shared this special destiny of Mary. Yet we know that we, too, have been promised eternal life if we live according to God’s will as Mary did.) 

In some traditions on the feast of the Dormition flowers are blessed. Sometimes the icon of the Theotokos is adorned with flowers on her feast days. It reminds us of the special place the Theotokos has in our lives. It also reminds us that we honor this special woman who tells us: “all generations will call me blessed.” (Luke 1:48)


4

Scripture Study

At the Vigil for the Dormition there are assigned Old Testament readings. They are: Genesis 28: 10-17; Ezekiel 43:27-44:4; Proverbs 9:1-11. These readings are about Jacob’s Ladder, the Closed Gate of the Temple and Wisdom. These are all pre-figurations of the Theotokos. Read them together. These are other images from the Old Testament are used extensively in our hymnography to describe the Theotokos. Discuss how our veneration of the Theotokos is expressed in the Church, especially as we have discussed it during these sessions.


5

Experiencing Grief

The Dormition of the Theotokos is a major feast of the Church. As such it has a joyful rather than a sorrowful quality. Yet when we lose a loved ones we experience sorrow. People have varying degrees of experience with grief, and as adults we are sometimes expected to “handle” it. In the Church we are called to a grief of hope. This is often difficult to attain, and the world sees grief as a state of despair. St. Paul tells us:

But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)

In this vein, and understanding that in American culture grieving is often ignored or unexpressed, embark on a discussion about grieving. The following questions and statements are meant as discussion starters only. Each group of students can draw on their own experiences, either personal or as a community.

How does the Church handle death?

Although the mood of our services for those who have died is somber, they are not without hope. The Church understands that we are sad that we will no longer have the physical presence of a loved one, but Christ offers us hope, hope in eternal life which will not pass away. We pray for the dead because God exists out of time and we ask that God remember our loved one eternally. We are not idly comforting ourselves in this way, but lifting up our loved one to the Father. The Church offers memorial services after death and on the anniversary of death. We do not forget, and we pray that God will not forget either.

 How is grief expressed?

People often express their grief with sadness. This can be manifested by depression, an inability to cope with even simple tasks, isolation or magnified neediness. It might be useful to discuss ways to deal with others and our selves when grieving. People might share things that have helped them or even things that have not been helpful to them when they have grieved. The offering of prayer and comfort, including both physical and emotional support are tremendous gifts to the grieving.


6

Closing Prayer

Kontakion of the Dormition - Tone 2

Neither the tomb, nor death, could hold the Theotokos,
Who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions.
For being the Mother of Life, she was translated to life
By the One who dwelt in her virginal womb!

Note that both the troparion and kontakion emphasize Mary’s ever-virginity. Use the Notes for the Teacher section above to lead a discussion on what this means. Remind students that in Orthodox teaching, a husband and wife are given the gift of sexual intercourse to enjoy, not just to procreate. Close with the kontakion of the feast as your prayer.


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Icons of the Theotokos (Ages 18+)

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Overview

The Theotokos: Compassion and Protection
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Objectives

By the end of this Lesson, learners should be able to:

  • Compare the different iconographic representations of the Theotokos
  • Compare the scriptural references to hymns about the Theotokos
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Materials

  • Bibles 
  • Copies of the feast day icons of the Theotokos that have been studied in previous lessons
  • Copies of the Troparia from the feast days, not titled (available in Sessions 1-4)
  • Copies of the following icons and troparia (not titled):
    • The Tikhvin Icon
    • The Icon of Our Lady of Vladimir:
    • Our Lady of the Sign
    • The Icon of the Protection
  • The Icon Book
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Procedure

1

Opening Prayer

Hymm to the Theotokos

It is truly meet to bless you, O Theotokos,
ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God.
More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim, without defilement you gave birth to God the Word.
True Theotokos, we magnify you!

Make certain the students understand that the Cherubim and Seraphim are ranks of angels. Discuss the use of hymnography about the Theotokos.


2

Hymnography of the Theotokos

 When do we hear hymns about the Theotokos? (At every service of the Church and in our private prayers.) There are many references to Old Testament images. Last session we talked about the Old Testament readings and how the Theotokos is Jacob’s Ladder, the Closed Gate of the Temple and the Wisdom.

Print out and complete the Activity: The Theotokos in Scripture and Hymnography found in the Resource Section.

3

Icons of the Theotokos

During the past four sessions we have studied four feasts of the Theotokos. We know, though, that we honor the Theotokos more often than just on these feast days. We can ask the Theotokos to pray for us and remember us to God daily.

Icons are an important part of the worship of the Orthodox Church. There was a time when people misunderstood the use of icons, and still some people today don’t understand them. The Orthodox Church teaches that we do not pray to icons, but in fact pray through them and that they help us to realize that Christ and the saints are present with us always. They also help us to understand important events in the life of Christ, the Theotokos or the saints. That’s why we studied the icons of the feast days of the Theotokos. But there are many other icons of the Theotokos.

Many people have a number of icons in their home, usually in a special place, where they also pray. There are a number of styles or types of icons of the Theotokos. Many churches and individuals have several icons of the Theotokos.

Read the appropriate page (page 2) from The Icon Book .

Say: Here are some additional types of icons of the Theotokos. What differences do you see in the different types of icon? Have the students spend a little time looking at the icons, discussing the facial expressions and the positioning of Christ and the Theotokos. Read The Icons of the Theotokos - Description from the Resource Section.


4

The Tikhvin Mother of God icon - Story

For many years this icon was in North America for safekeeping. Read The Story of the Tikhvin Mother of God Icon found in the Resouce Section.

Discuss the value of this icon for the Russian Orthodox people. If possible visit the www.oca.org site to see the photos and description of the return of the icon. Especially note the huge crowds that greeted the icon on her return to Russia.


5

Closing Prayer

Hymm to the Theotokos

It is truly meet to bless you, O Theotokos,
ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God.
More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim, without defilement you gave birth to God the Word.
True Theotokos, we magnify you!


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