28 August 2008

Prayer to the Theotokos, II: Post-communion prayer

I have begun a series of posts on prayers to the Theotokos, in an effort to explain to non-Orthodox what the Church prays when it calls on her. I do not propose to re-establish the things I've already shown, to the best of my ability, such as why we ask the intercessions of the saints in general, or what the Church means by terms like salvation. Not everyone will be convinced; but being convinced is not simply an intellectual exercise. It requires a modicum of good will as well. Even the rich man in hell was unconvinced by Abraham's words, notwithstanding his own misery.

After the Eucharist, among many other prayers we pray, we offer this request to the Theotokos:

"O most holy Lady, Theotokos, light of my darkened soul, my hope, protection, refuge, consolation, my joy; I thank thee that thou hast vouchsafed me, who am unworthy, to be a partaker of the most pure Body and precious Blood of thy Son. O thou who gavest birth to the True Light, do thou enlighten the spiritual eyes of my heart; thou who gavest birth to the Source of Immortality, revive me who am dead in sin; thou who art the lovingly-compassionate Mother of the merciful God, have mercy on me and grant me compunction and contrition in my heart, and humility in my thoughts, and the recall of my thoughts from captivity. And vouchsafe me until my last breath to receive without condemnation the sanctification of the most pure Mysteries for the healing of soul and body; and grant me tears of repentance and confession, that I may hymn and glorify thee all the days of my life, for blessed and most glorified art thou unto the ages. Amen."

The first thing to notice is that this prayer does not stand on its own. It is one in a series of prayers; indeed, it stands last in that series. Perhaps this is a key to open the prayer as a whole. (I do not speak dogmatically here, but phenomenologically--that is, as someone who has watched Orthodox services with attention for some time.)

Consider the series of prayers and meditations that occur each Saturday night at Vespers. Nearly always, the last one is addressed to the Theotokos. Consider also the second great censing of the Temple during Matins: it begins with the priest saying, "The Theotokos and Mother of Light, Thee do we honor and magnify with song." These prayers of the Church mean to teach us that all Christ is by nature in the second Article of the Creed, he wills us to become by grace in the third Article. To acknowledge the Theotokos is to confess that God has acted and is acting in the lives of his people; for she is "full of grace," full of the favor of God.

The second thing to notice is the tone of the petitions. Is it the tone of the whole, rather than individual parts, which raises objections? In an earlier post I noted that when we pray to the saints, the chief role they play is that of intercessor for us to the Lord. But it is also true that God shows his glory in them by allowing them to act for him and toward us. The angels are given such tasks, as Hebrews 1:14 tells us, and we see an example in Luke 1:19, "And the angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings." The sun is the source of nearly all light on earth, even that of the moon; but only a sophist would say, of the moonlight, "It's not moonlight at all; it's only sunlight." According to Acts, handkerchiefs and even the shadows of the apostles brought cures to those who were ill. Why, then, should it seem strange that God would work through his holy ones, who share his divine energies by grace, in order to work in the lives of his people?

In my next post, I'll set forth the structure of this prayer.

24 August 2008

Blind and Deaf

Lord Love, I have asked Thee to open me to others. However, Thou hast made me understand that Thy servant must be both blind and deaf, seeing but as if not seeing, hearing but as if not hearing.

Love, make me deaf. Close my ears to the accusations, to all the mockeries that I hear uttered against others.

Love, make me blind. Close my eyes to the failings of others. Of course I must reject what makes an act or a word evil, but I do not have the right to judge and to condemn the speaker or the doer. Thou only, Lord, Thou knowest. Thou knowest all things.

Thy Christ did not want to look at the woman taken in adultery while she was being accused. He only looked at her when they were left alone. As long as the accusation lasted, He stooped down over the earth. He kept silent and wrote. By this attitude, he silenced the accusers. By this attitude He has forever, unto the ages of ages, silenced all accusations.
Fr. Lev Gillet, "In Thy Presence"

20 August 2008

Some advice for students of all sorts...

"When authors have been admired for a great number of centuries and have been scorned only by a few people with eccentric taste (for there will always be found depraved tastes), then not only is there temerity, there is madness in casting doubt on the merit of these writers. From the fact that you do not see the beauties in their writings you must not conclude that those beauties are not there, but that you are blind and that you have no taste. The bulk of mankind in the long run makes no mistake about works of the spirit. There is no longer any questions nowadays as to whether Homer, Plato, Cicero, Vergil are remarkable men. It is a matter closed to dispute, for twenty centuries are agreed on it; the question is to find out what it is that has made them admired by so many centuries; and you must find a way to undersatnd this or give up letters, for which you must believe that you have neither taste nor aptitude since you do not feel what all men have felt." --Boileau, in "The Shaping of Modern Thought," Englewood, NJ, Prentice-Hall 1963, p. 35)

15 August 2008

A shameless plea for money

In reading Khomiakov's On the western confessions of faith, I found an intriguing reference to a book by one Adam Zernikav. Khomiakov writes, "...I mention the fact that the work of Adam Zernikavius, in which it is demonstrated that all the testimony drawn from the works of the holy fathers in support of the addition to the Creed was intentionally altered or misquoted, still stands unrefuted."

Fr. Georges Florovsky seconds Khomiakov's assessment. He says, "Of a somewhat different mold than these Kievan scholars was Adam Zernikav of Chernigov. He deserves mention because of his special place in the ranks of religious leaders at that time in the south of Russia. Born in Konigsberg, and trained in Protestant schools, Zernikav came to Orthodoxy through scholarly study of the early Christian tradition. After a long period in the West, primarily in study at Oxford and London, he turned up in Chernigov. There he made his mark as the author of the treatise, De processione Spiritus Sancti, which after its belated publication in Leipzig in 1774-1776 by Samuil Mislavskii, Metropolitan of Kiev, gained him wide renown. It appears to have been Zernikav's only work, but it is the work of a lifetime. There is manifested in it an enormous erudition and a great gift for theological analysis. To this day Zernikav's work remains a skillful compilation of valuable materials, one of the most comprehensive studies on the subject ever made. It still deserves to be read."

When I tried to find this work by Interlibrary loan, I was unsuccessful. The librarian at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in Toronto pointed me to the State Library of Vienna, which seems to be one of the few places to find the work.

Thanks to some help from a Lutheran friend, I have been able to secure a microfilm copy of the text. I wish to do a Latin/English edition of the text. It will probably take the rest of my life to accomplish it, since the work is hundreds of pages long, and I have only spare time. (Yes, I am selfish, and want to do the whole thing myself, rather than farming it out.)

In any case, the bill I must pay for the microfilm is about 253 Euros, or around 375 US dollars. I am making a shameless plea for anyone interested, if you're willing, to help defray the cost. (I also plan to sell my English edition of Luther's works--nearly complete--to help pay as well.) Any help, however small, would be greatly appreciated. (Even more important, remember me in your prayers.)

From what I gather so far, it appears that Zernikav was a Lutheran convert to Orthodoxy--at a time when such things were unheard of. That makes the text all the more intrinsically interesting to me. If the text lives up to Khomiakov's billing, it should prove very helpful in the ongoing discussion of the filioque.

05 August 2008

"This was from me"--HT www.pramvir.com

From 'Orthodoxy and the World' www.pravmir.com

Holy Fathers
By St. Seraphim of Viritsa
Jul 31, 2008, 10:00

Source: All Saints of North America Orthodox Church (OCA, Hamilton) - asna.ca

(The new St. Seraphim, of Viritsa was born in 1866. He married and had three children. In 1920, at the age of 54, he and his wife quietly separated and each entered monastic life. Eventually he became the spiritual father of the St. Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg, where, as a clairvoyant staretz, he also confessed thousands of laity. He said, "I am the storage room where people's afflictions gather." In imitation of his patron saint, he prayed for a thousand nights on a rock before an icon of St. Seraphim of Sarov. He reposed in the Lord in 1949 and the Church of Russia glorified him in August of 2000.)

The following is (slightly abridged) from a letter sent by St. Seraphim to a spiritual child of his, a hierarch who was at that time in a Soviet prison. It is in the form of consolation given by God to a troubled man's soul.

St. Seraphim of Viritsa
Have you ever thought that everything that concerns you, concerns Me, also? You are precious in my eyes and I love you; for his reason, it is a special joy for Me to train you. When temptations and the opponent [the Evil One] come upon you like a river, I want you to know that This was from Me.

I want you to know that your weakness has need of My strength, and your safety lies in allowing Me to protect you. I want you to know that when you are in difficult conditions, among people who do not understand you, and cast you away, This was from Me.

I am your God, the circumstances of your life are in My hands; you did not end up in your position by chance; this is precisely the position I have appointed for you. Weren't you asking Me to teach you humility? And there - I placed you precisely in the "school" where they teach this lesson. Your environment, and those who are around you, are performing My will. Do you have financial difficulties and can just barely survive? Know that This was from Me.

I want you to know that I dispose of your money, so take refuge in Me and depend upon Me. I want you to know that My storehouses are inexhaustible, and I am faithful in My promises. Let it never happen that they tell you in your need, "Do not believe in your Lord and God." Have you ever spent the night in suffering? Are you separated from your relatives, from those you love? I allowed this that you would turn to Me, and in Me find consolation and comfort. Did your friend or someone to whom you opened your heart, deceive you? This was from Me.

I allowed this frustration to touch you so that you would learn that your best friend is the Lord. I want you to bring everything to Me and tell Me everything. Did someone slander you? Leave it to Me; be attached to Me so that you can hide from the "contradiction of the nations." I will make your righteousness shine like light and your life like midday noon. Your plans were destroyed? Your soul yielded and you are exhausted? This was from Me.

You made plans and have your own goals; you brought them to Me to bless them. But I want you to leave it all to Me, to direct and guide the circumstances of your life by My hand, because you are the orphan, not the protagonist. Unexpected failures found you and despair overcame your heart, but know That this was from Me.

With tiredness and anxiety I am testing how strong your faith is in My promises and your boldness in prayer for your relatives. Why is it not you who entrusted their cares to My providential love? You must leave them to the protection of My All Pure Mother. Serious illness found you, which may be healed or may be incurable, and has nailed you to your bed. This was from Me.

Because I want you to know Me more deeply, through physical ailment, do not murmur against this trial I have sent you. And do not try to understand My plans for the salvation of people's souls, but unmurmuringly and humbly bow your head before My goodness. You were dreaming about doing something special for Me and, instead of doing it, you fell into a bed of pain. This was from Me.

Because then you were sunk in your own works and plans and I wouldn't have been able to draw your thoughts to Me. But I want to teach you the most deep thoughts and My lessons, so that you may serve Me. I want to teach you that you are nothing without Me. Some of my best children are those who, cut off from an active life, learn to use the weapon of ceaseless prayer. You were called unexpectedly to undertake a difficult and responsible position, supported by Me. I have given you these difficulties and as the Lord God I will bless all your works, in all your paths. In everything I, your Lord, will be your guide and teacher. Remember always that every difficulty you come across, every offensive word, every slander and criticism, every obstacle to your works, which could cause frustration and disappointment, This is from Me.

Know and remember always, no matter where you are, That whatsoever hurts will be dulled as soon as you learn In all things, to look at Me. Everything has been sent to you by Me, for the perfection of your soul.

All these things were from Me.

© Copyright 2004 by 'Orthodoxy and the World' www.pravmir.com

03 August 2008

Solzhenitsyn: An excerpt from August 1914

Looking gloomy and careworn, the commander left the staff offices and went to his quarters to rest. No one would have guessed it from his face, but he was aware of it: a layer of his soul had been shaken loose and was slowly, gradually slipping, coming adrift.

Samsonov strained to hear its inaudible movement.

His room had been cool in the afternoon, but now toward evening it was stuffy although the window was half open and the fine-wire screen in place.

Samsonov took his boots off and lay down.

In the gathering dusk he could still see from his pillow a big print mocking him from the wall: Frederick the Great surrounded by his generals, fine stalwart fellows all of them, with twirled mustaches, invincible.

How strange. It had all happened only a few hours ago, yet he no longer felt angry either with Blagoveshchensky or with Artamonov for lying and retreating. They would never have done such things if they had not been under unbearable pressure, if they had not been going through hell. His anger was misdirected. How could he be angry with them when he himself was so much at fault? Putting himself in their place, Samsonov could even find excuses for them: when the action was scattered over such a huge area a corps commander had no more hope of dominating events than his superior.

But if the mistakes of his subordinates were to be excused, where did that leave the general?

Never in his army career had Samsonov imagined that everything could go so badly wrong at once.

When sunflower oil is shaken and becomes cloudy the bottle must stand for a while so that the liquid can regain its golden transparency, as the sediment sinks to the bottom and the air bubbles rise to the surface. The Army Commander's troubled soul needed stillness to regain clarity. He knew what he must do: pray.

Perfunctory prayers, mumbled morning and evening as a matter of habit, while your thoughts stray to mundane affairs, are like washing fully dressed and with one hand: you are very slightly cleaner, but you hardly feel it. But if you pray with concentration, surrender to it completely, pray as if you were slaking your thirst, when you cannot bear not to pray and nothing else will do—prayer like that, Samsonov remembered, always transforms and strengthens.

Instead of calling his orderly, Kupchik, he rose, felt for the matches, lit the cut-glass table lamp without turning up the wick, and latched the door. He did not pull the window shut—the building opposite had no upper story.

He had a portable icon made of Britannia metal—the sort Cossacks take on campaign with them. He opened it out and arranged its panels so that it stood upright on the table. He knelt clumsily without stopping to check whether the floor was clean.

Supporting his ungainly bulk hurt his knees, but the pain gave him satisfaction as he knelt with his eyes fixed on the crucifixion and the two side panels, St. George Bringer of Victory and St. Nicholas Man of God, and began to pray.

First, two or three well-known prayers—"God shall rise again," "A speedy helper He"—then that fluid prayerful silence, a wordless, sound-less prayer put together by his unconscious, only occasionally attached to firm supports retained by his memory: ". . . the radiance of Thy countenance, 0 Giver of Life," "Mother of God, abundantly merciful"; and again prayers without words, wreathed in clouds of smoke, in mist, moving like ice floes in the spring thaw.

What most weighed on him found its truest and most helpful expression, not in ready-made prayers, or in his own words, but in kneeling on his aching knees until he ceased to feel them, in looking fixedly at the icon in oblivious muteness. For him this was the readiest way to lay his whole life, and the day's suffering, before God. God knew anyway that neither honors and awards nor the enjoyment of power were Samsonov's reasons for serving, for decking himself with medals. He was begging God now to send his armies victories, not in order to save his own name, but for the sake of Russia's might, because this opening battle could largely determine her fate.

He prayed that the casualties might not be in vain. Those whose bodies were so suddenly pierced by lead or steel that they had no time even to cross themselves as they died—let them not have perished in vain! He prayed that clarity might descend upon his exhausted mind so that at the very peak of his "highest time" he might make the correct decision, and so himself embody God's will that these sacrifices should not be in vain.

He knelt there, his whole weight pressing into the floor, gazing on the icon at eye level before him, whispering, praying, and the weight of his hand seemed to grow less each time he crossed himself, his body less cumbersome, his soul less dark: all the weight and darkness soundlessly and invisibly fell away from him, evaporated, were drawn heavenward. God who could assume all burdens was taking this burden to Himself.

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008)

I just heard on the news that Aleksander Solzhenitsyn reposed today. May his memory be eternal!

01 August 2008

"Most holy Theotokos, save us!" (Part 3)

So far we've seen that Mary is rightly addressed as "Most holy Theotokos"--Theotokos, because she gave birth to God, and "most holy" because God shared his holiness and his glory first and foremost with her, and because she alone contained within her womb the God whom the heavens cannot contain. If the most holy place of the Temple was called "the Holy of Holies" because the Ark of the Covenant rested in it, how much more can she be called "Most holy," since her womb contained the God who made that covenant!

We've also seen that it is right and proper to address persons other than God in prayer--reclaiming the meaning of "pray" from Protestants, who seek to carry the day by persuasive definition ("Since 'pray' means talk with God," they say, "by definition we must not pray to anyone other than God."). "Pray" means "ask." Specifically, we can address prayers to the saints because they are not dead, but living, and since their condition is 'far better' than ours, and since the Church has practiced these prayers--east and west, from the earliest days, we can be confident that they hear us. The Church is a communion of love, and one of the key ways we express that mutual love is by mutual prayer. (Most arguments against the intercession of the saints are arguments against intercessory prayer in general.)

Now we come to the most difficult part of the prayer: "Most holy Theotokos, save us." What can that mean?

It doesn't mean that we are asking Mary to save us, apart from her Son. The liturgical context alone demonstrates that, for the next words the priest speaks are "Glory to thee, O Christ, our God and our hope, glory to thee."
Nor does it mean, as I have even heard some well-meaning Orthodox say, that Mary saves us from temporal distress and Christ saves us from eternal distress. Such a "division of labor" approach doesn't protect the uniqueness of the Holy Trinity; it actually obscures it--as if God were only personally concerned with our destination, and delegated the path along that way to others.

Biblically, salvation:

> is from death, first and foremost.

The Psalmist cries out, "The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. Then I called on the name of the LORD: "O LORD, I beseech thee, save my life!"" When the Lord answers his prayer, the Psalmist says, "Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; I walk before the LORD in the land of the living."

And St. Paul explains the work of Christ this way: "Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage. "

Our lifelong bondage, sin, stems from the fear of death with which we're born into a broken world. And of course, God's salvation frees us from sin as well as from death.

EXCURSUS: On original sin and the Theotokos
This is also why when the Theotokos says, "My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior," she is not implying thereby that she has sinned. A little excursus here: the historic position of both the East and of Rome is that Mary did not sin--even early Protestants like Dr. Luther held this view.

Both Rome and the Protestants hold a view of original sin as original guilt. This leads Rome to make a great exception in Mary's case, by claiming that she was conceived immaculately, that is, without original sin. And it leads the Protestants to reject Mary's sinlessness, because no one apart from Christ is conceived without original sin.

The Protestants rightly reject the Immaculate Conception, because it would have the effect of making Mary different from the rest of humanity. And Rome rightly defends Mary's sinlessness, because that is the universal teaching of the Church before Protestantism appeared.

But if we hold, with the Orthodox faith, that the heart of "original sin" is mortality ("On the day you eat of the fruit, you shall surely die..."), mortality which leads all people, afraid of death, into sin--then we can affirm the ancient Church's teaching without the need for making Mary an exception to the universal rule. Like everyone else except her Son, the Theotokos is subject to death. (In two weeks we mark the feast of the Dormition, her falling asleep in Christ. She did not remain in death, but that's a subject for another post.) We can also make sense of the Lord's saying, "No one takes my life from me. I both lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again." He alone is born not subject to death; when he dies, he does not surrender to the inevitable, but freely gives himself up for us all.

> concerns the whole man, body and soul.
This is hard to grasp sometimes, because translators routinely render the Greek words sozo and soteria with words like "deliver" or "make whole." When Christ heals, he often says, "Go in peace; your faith has made you whole." The phrase "made you whole" is translating the Greek word sozo. (Those of us who are older may remember the King James Version's rendering: "Go in peace; your faith has saved you.") Likewise, in Philippians 1, when Paul speaks of his hope of release from prison, he says, "This will work out for my deliverance..."--but the word translated "deliverance" is simply soteria.

Why don't the translators simply say, "save" or "salvation" in these contexts? It seems they have a bias for seeing salvation as a 'spiritual' matter, or one concerning the soul only. But salvation, biblically, is a body-and-soul personal reality. St. Gregory the Theologian refuted Apollinaris by saying, "That which the Word did not assume, that he did not redeem." We can flip that saying in this context and say, "If salvation is merely a matter for the soul, then why did the Word become flesh?"--an act which involves more than just the body, but certainly no less than the body.

> concerns the whole of life--indeed, stretches from eternity to eternity

Salvation is not merely that at one fixed point in this life, or at the end of time, God judges us "not guilty." Salvation began before the foundation of the world, according to St. Paul in Ephesians 1; indeed, St. John speaks of those whose names were written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. Salvation continues throughout our earthly life in all its dimensions, as we have seen above. And salvation extends into eternity.

> includes all the means by which the Triune God brings about salvation.

Here we get to the crux of the matter. Well-meaning Protestants stumble at the expression, "Most holy Theotokos, save us," because, they say, God alone saves us. It is true, of course, that God alone saves us. We must remember that heresy takes a partial truth and uses it to renounce the fullness of truth (the word 'heresy' comes from the Greek verb meaning 'to choose.')

Some Protestants apply the dictum "God alone saves" more consistently. So baptists will say, "Baptism does not save you." Their conclusion is based on a simple syllogism: God alone saves; baptism is not God; therefore baptism does not save. Similarly, God alone saves; the Theotokos is not God; therefore the Theotokos does not save.

But the Holy Scriptures do not only use the verb "save" with the subject "God" or "Christ." St. Paul tells Timothy,

"Take heed to yourself and to your teaching; hold to that, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers."

Subject: "you" (Timothy)
Verb: "save"
Object: "yourself and your hearers."

St. Paul is not saying to Timothy, "You, not God, will save yourself and your hearers." He is saying, "The ministry and ministers of the Gospel are one component in bringing about salvation." Elsewhere he says the same thing: "But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!"" (Orthodox believers regularly kiss the right hand of bishops and priests, and even in anger, they speak with measured tones--not because bishops and priests are ontologically different or better, but because God uses them as the means by which he delivers salvation to his people. Speaking as a priest, I am deeply conscious of my unworthiness to receive such respect. When I and other Orthodox priests sign ourselves, "The unworthy priest," we aren't 'blowing smoke.')

St. Peter says, likewise, "Corresponding to this, baptism now saves you." (I Peter 3:21)
Subject: "baptism"
Verb: "saves"
Object: "you."

Baptism saves, because God uses baptism to join us to the death and rising of Christ.

St. Paul says to the Philippians, as we have seen, "This will turn out for my salvation through your prayers and the help of the Holy Spirit." Clearly the prayers of others play a role in our salvation. Note also how St. Paul links prayer to the help of the Holy Spirit. Salvation is a synergy, a theanthropic work. That work is a work, not only of the Head, but also of the Body (Acts 1:1; Eph. 4:16).

Biblically speaking, then, the words "save" or "salvation" can be used with subjects other than the Triune God--not because those other persons or things save us apart from him, but because they are means involved in the whole process of salvation. One of those things by which salvation comes about, is the prayers of others.

Is Mary involved in that whole process of salvation? To ask the question is to answer it. "When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the Law, to redeem those under the Law." Even the first promise of salvation is not made apart from her; God says to the serpent, "I will put enmity between your seed and the Seed of the woman. He will crush your head, and you will bruise his heel." She freely responded "yes" to God's promise. She gave birth to God.

That work also includes her intercession, as we see in St. John 2. At the wedding in Cana, the Theotokos sees the need of the young couple. She intercedes for them with her Son--not that he who knows all things was unaware of that need, but rather that he who is Love incarnate delights in his people's cries motivated by love. She tells the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." And he responds to her request by meeting the need of the couple. St. John concludes, "This first (arche) of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee; he manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him."

St. John is not in the habit of recording random events in his Gospel. They are completely historical, to be sure; but they also serve to reveal timeless reality. John 2, as the first, chief, and root (the word arche carries all those connotations) of signs shows this especially.

So when we pray, "Most holy Theotokos, save us," we are asking her to intercede for us before her Son. Why not simply say, "Most holy Theotokos, intercede for us"? Because, as we have seen, God manifests his glory in his saints and through them. And while the chief way they work in our salvation is by their prayers, God has not limited himself to that way. He has also manifested his glory through them in other ways as well. The most famous of these is, of course, his delivering Constantinople through her in the sixth century--an act which serves as the basis of the Church's hymn: "To thee the Champion leader"--

"To Thee, the Champion Leader, we Thy servants dedicate a feast of victory and of thanksgiving as ones rescued out of sufferings, O Theotokos: but as Thou art one with might which is invincible, from all dangers that can be do Thou deliver us, that we may cry to Thee: Rejoice, Thou Bride Unwedded!"