Monday, October 21, 2013

Theotokos Talk

This month I got a chance to share how I came to know the Theotokos in the Byzantine tradition. The following is a synopsis of my talk followed by a link to hear the whole thing:

     This month my tradition celebrates the Protection of Theotokos. There are a few stories associated with the feast. One is where there was city about to be invaded by barbarians and the people in the city cried out to God causing the Theotokos to appear and she prayed with them. In some way I can relate to this story because in a way I was like the barbarians. Like a "modern" barbarian I pretty much grew up doing whatever I wanted to do. I did not grow up in any religion or moral foundation. Like a barbarian I went with whatever felt right to me.  This of course got me into a lot of trouble and in one way it got me fascinated with supernatural. Eventually I got involved in the occult but thankfully when things started to get scary I had a Catholic neighbor that tried to set me on the right path......
     After my neighbor I stopped my occult involvement, but, I continued to live like a barbarian. However, each night I would pray three prayers my neighbor taught me the Hail Mary, Our Father, and the prayer to St. Michael. Unfortunately, by living like a barbarian you know in your heart that things are not right with God, so I didn’t have a lot of faith in my communication with God. On the other hand, when experiencing hard times I knew from praying the Hail Mary that someone was praying for me, which you could say was the beginning of my personal devotion to the Theotokos....
     To make a long story short, I eventual decided to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and I did so continuing my personal devotion to the Theotokos. However, by not having any spiritual direction certain people were able convince me that my devotion to the Theotokos was evil. By the time I came into full communion with the Catholic Church the relationship that I once had with the Theotokos was not possible. The best way to describe this would be to understand an abused animal that is adopted. The animal in its former home became instinctively afraid to approach people. When it came to its new home, where there was no abuse, it could not free itself of its fear even though people wanted to love it. In my case I might have intellectually accepted Catholic teaching about Mary but my heart was afraid to approach her......
     Thankfully, the fear that I had was overcome by participating in the Divine Liturgy of the Byzantine tradition. It was in the Divine Liturgy, in the context of experiencing God, that the Theotokos became naturally present to me. I guess the difference by participating in the Divine Liturgy was that before the Theotokos was presented to me only intellectually. By worshiping God in my tradition the Theotokos became someone very real to me unlike what I had previously experienced in becoming Catholic. For me it was difficult to continue in my fear for she was constantly made know to me. Just like she did in the beginning of my relationship with God she became again the person who I knew would help me to grow deeper in my relationship with Jesus Christ............

If you get a chance listen to the full version of my talk:

1 comment:

  1. This shows the power of prayer! Praise God! My family always said the Lord's prayer together before bed- no matter what church we were attending at the time -Quaker, Episcopalian, random Protestant(finally resting in the Catholic Church when I was 12)

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