As we approached the Christmas season I was asked by my spiritual director to consider Mary under her title of Mother of God or theotokos. The Feast of Mary, Mother of God is actually celebrated today (January 1st) in the Roman Catholic Church.
The icon above comes from the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, fka Constantinople. Here is where what became known as the Orthodox Church found its spiritual home until the Islamic conquests during the Middle Ages. I want to go there some day and pray before this icon.
The picture touches my heart because it, like my own life, is partially defaced. Yet, the image is still beautiful, and evokes a strong response. Even though our lives are fractured, or perhaps because they are so, Mary our Mother longs to make us whole and holy by confirming us to the image of her perfect Son.
Here is a prayer, the Alma Redemptoris Mater, with which I end the Office of Compline each night during Advent/ Christmas season:
Loving Mother of the Redeemer,
gate of heaven, star of the sea,
assist your people who have fallen
yet strive to rise again.
To the wonderment of nature
you bore your Creator,
yet remained a virgin after as before.
You who received Gabriel's joyful greeting,
have mercy on us poor sinners.
To which I add my own words:
make our heart like unto yours,
pure, undefiled and always willing to do the Father's will.