As I have become more immersed in the Orthodox Church, the more I have come to realize what a great role women play in the life of the church. Women are honored for what they are – not for being like men, or trying to be like men, but for the grace that God gives them. At the height of this honor is the honor the Church gives to Mary – the mother of God. I remember a conversation my husband and I had with my dad on our first visit home after our wedding. He asked what the word “Theotokos” was that we repeated in the wedding service. We explained that “Theotokos” means Mother of God. This thought left him speechless. So often the role of women in the church is either down-played or made equivalent to the role of men. The thought that God truly had a mother, and all the maternal bonds and human-ness that thought implies can take your breath away sometimes. I have had conversations with both my mom and dad about icons and the veneration of Mary, and they are hard conversations, because the veneration of the Saints and the veneration of Mary are so completely different than anything in Protestant tradition.
I particularly like the comment about asking the Saints (including Mary) to pray for us. We ask other (living) Christians to pray for us all the time. How much more should we ask those saints that are living in God’s presence and departed this life to pray for us here on earth! I know I certainly ask the for the prayers of my grandmothers all the time. I miss them here on earth, but they, and their prayers, are never far from me. 🙂