Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Mother of all Christians

Hat Tip to Demetrios

There’s a verse somewhere in the Paraclesis (Akathist) Service to the Mother of God that calls her, poetically, a murex. Murex? Murex! What’s that? Some sort of mountain goat? If so, why call her that?

Well, I saw a television program that talked about ancient customs, including the purple cloth only royalty wore. The purple dye for it was extracted from a sea snail called a murex, and it took tens of thousands of these snails to dye a single square yard or square foot or something of cloth, which is why it was far too expensive for almost anybody

So the verse in the service calls Mary the murex who with her own blood dyed the royal garment. It sounds not only exotic but also gross, doesn’t it? But it involved no bloodshed. The royal garment is of course Christ’s human body, and the verse simply means He received both His Body and His Blood entirely from her, from His Virgin Mother.

So when we take Communion and receive His Body and Blood, it’s also hers we are given, through Him.

And that is one way she truly and not merely poetically becomes the mother of all the Christians

8 comments:

Deacon Benjamin Harju said...

Of course, it is not her blood personally, but only progenitively. Just like my blood isn't my parents' blood personally, but only in the respect that I received my blood through them.

So we could also say that Christ's blood is that of Joachim's and Anna's, and of all the ancestors of Christ - which is the point, after all. We find in Christ the lineage of Adam who fell through transgression.

Deacon Benjamin Harju said...

Another point to be made is that we who receive the Eucharist are made one Body and Blood with Christ. So we see that Christ redeems what came before Him (human nature begun in Adam) by the Incarnation, and we see that Christ redeems what comes apart from Him and after Him (all individual persons other than Himself) through Pascha and our incorporation into Him through communion.

Deacon Benjamin Harju said...

So in that sense (that of the second comment I left) Mary is the Mother of all Christians, because she supplies the raw material via maternity for our redemption. Raw material makes it sound so cold and impersonal, but that is because it speaks to nature. Her maternal role toward Christ, who through Her and the Holy Spirit is that of the Second Eve, passes on to all who are incorporated into Christ. That is quite personal.

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

That is both amazing and quite, quite beautiful......

Mimi said...

Oooh, wow. Thank you.

Anam Cara said...

I knew all about murex from a study of Lydia (a dyer of purple cloth, remember?), but I had never heard (or absorbed) the idea of the Theotokos being called a murex.

Murex shells can be found on many beaches. They are sort of spiny conchs. I know they appear on Atlantic beaches. I'm pretty certain they are on the Pacific coast as well from my time in Panama. (Sometimes I can't remember where I've found all my shells)

The murex was the source of the blue in Jewish prayer shawls: Numbers 15:38-39. Is there some way we can connect the murex coloring used in the prayer shawl with the Theotokos?

I'm going to have to reread the Paraclesis service with this in mind. It is a wonderful concept that most of us miss. Thanks for sharing that!

margaret said...

What a lovely image. It isn’t at all gross. It reminds me of the mediaeval tradition of depicting the Blessed Virgin spinning or weaving at the Annunciation not simply because it was what people expected to see a woman doing (as is often said) but to symbolise her clothing Him in human flesh.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Ben, not to disagree with anything you said, but it's a bit different in this case, because the blood we call "yours" is some admixture of that of your parents. But Christ's Blood is purely his Mother's. Right down to the blood type and whether negative or positive.

Somehow that seems important...