Appeared in Spring 2003, Vol. XXVIII, No. 1
Written on the Occasion of the Deliverance of Constantinople from the Barbarians, A.D. 626. Translated from the original Greek, with a Foreword by Fr. Vincent McNabb, O.P, S.T M. With Notes by D. A.
No apology is needed for introducing the Akathistos to the Christian West. Indeed the West might well be apologetic about its neglect or ignorance of such a liturgical and literary masterpiece.
If at present many western Christians find themselves out of sympathy with the superlatives offered by this hymn to the Theotokos it is because they have drifted away even from the western Lady-love which gave them Ave Maris Stella and Salve Regina.
Without a doubt the East had more reason than had the West for keeping Mary the Mother of God in the forefront, we might almost say the battlefront, of its praise. The enemy who almost compassed the death of the Babe of Bethlehem and finally compassed the death of Jesus of Nazareth pursued the infant Church with unabated zeal and intelligence. In the Greek-speaking East he launched an attack in force first against the divinity of the Son and then against the divinity of the Son made flesh. There were moments in the great attack when the enemy of Christ seemed a conqueror. But finally at Ephesus his hundred years’ war against the Son of Mary was broken by the Greek-speaking East’s proclaiming the Mother of that Son to be Theotokos, the Forth-bringer or Mother of God.
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