The Mother Of Christ by Father Vassall-Phillips Part 113.

Moreover, the Greek Liturgy employs in addressing our Lady terms so bold that they could never be tolerated in the West, and would be judged as most gravely heretical, were it not that hyperbolical expressions are in ordinary use, and universally understood as such in the East. For example, the Blessed Virgin is addressed now as the " Saviour of the world," and again as the " expiation of all the world." All Christians in the East, as in the West, know that, in the strict sense of the words, our Lord alone is our Saviour, and that He alone is the Expiation of our sins. There is no danger that such expressions, when applied to the Blessed Virgin, should be misunderstood by Orientals—words are only conventional symbols, and words employed by Catholics must be interpreted according to the Catholic Faith—at the same time, by their very unexpectedness they testify to the position assigned, without hesitation, by Eastern Christians to the Mother of the Redeemer in the economy of our salvation.

Out of examples of this attitude towards our Lady which abound on every page of the Greek sacred books, I will give a few which may represent the rest :

1. The morning prayers in the Horologion begin with the sign of the Cross. " In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. O God, holy, strong, eternal, have mercy upon us."

The Gloria Patri follows, with the prayer : " Most Holy Trinity, have mercy upon us." Then we have the Kyrie Eleison terminated by three short invocations to our Lord, to each one of which is appended : " O God, Thou art Holy, Holy, Holy. Through the Mother of God have mercy upon us."

2. Throughout the Canonical Hours, after each collect, there is a special Theotokion or prayer to the Blessed Virgin.

The first of these, at Matins, runs as follows : " We entreat thee, O Virgin, Mother of God, who art the impregnable wall and fortification of our salvation— scatter the plans of those who are opposed to us ; change into joy the sorrow of thy people; restore the world that is thine ; strengthen thy faithful ; intercede for the peace of the world; for thou, O Mother of God, art our hope."

And the third: " We—all the generations—bless thee, Virgin Mother of God. Blessed are we too, who possess thy protection. For by night and by day thou dost intercede for us ... wherefore, hymning thee, we cry to thee: Hail thou that art full of grace, the Lord is with thee."

I will now give two Theotokia from Terce.

The first:

"O Mother of God, thou art the true Vine which produced the fruit of life. We beseech thee, O Lady, pray for us with the Apostles and all the Saints, to obtain mercy for our souls."

And the next:

" Thou, O immaculate Mother of God, art the hope and protection and refuge of Christians, the impregnable wall of those who contend, thou art our tranquil harbour; as, then, by thy ceaseless intercession thou art the Saviour of the world, remember us too, O Virgin thou who art all worthy of praise."

3. At the grace for the evening meal:

" Make us worthy of thy gifts, O Virgin Mother of God, overlooking our transgressions, and affording healing to those who, in faith, share in thy praises, O Immaculate! "

4. Finally in the Liturgy itself:

Before the priest vests, he prays as follows :

" Open to us the gate of thy mercy, O Blessed Mother of God. Placing our hope in thee let us not be disappointed ... for thou art the salvation of the race of Christians." And then soon there follows another Theotokion  : " O thou who art constituted a fountain of mercy, make us worthy of compassion ; O Mother of God, look upon thy sinful people, show forth, as ever, thy power. For, hoping in thee, we cry out to thee, Hail, as of old did Gabriel the leader of all the Angels."

And after the preparation of the Bread and Wine, the priest prays: "To the honour of the most blessed glorious Mother of God and ever Virgin Mary, our Lady, together with whose intercessions, O Lord, do Thou show forth this sacrifice before Thy heavenly altar."  This prayer is followed by a mystical division by the Liturgical Spear, of a part of the Host called the Portion of the Mother of God, during which the verse is repeated : "The Queen stood on thy Right Hand, in golden raiment, wrought about with many colours."

The application of these words of the Psalmist to the Blessed Virgin at this solemn moment manifests in a way that cannot be misunderstood, the mind of the Eastern Church as to the intercession of the glorious Queen of Heaven with her Divine Son.