27 February 2013
This 13th-century icon of the Theotokos Orans is found in the Spasky Cathedral in Yaroslavi, Russia. (image: Wikipedia)
We’ve had a ton of positive feedback about the special Way of the Cross With Pope Benedict XVI booklet that we sent to our friends and benefactors for Lent. Many thanks to all who called and wrote. But I was struck by a note from Father J.S. Custer, pastor of Resurrection Byzantine Catholic Church in Smithtown, N.Y. He writes:
The vast majority of your benefactors must be Roman Catholics who have already been exposed to the Way of the Cross in some form. What CNEWA might offer, consistent with your mission, is … what the Byzantine “lung” of the church experiences during Great Lent.
What a great idea! And so I tracked down one of Father Custer’s helpful suggestions to share with you today: the Akathist Hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The hymn is more than its name suggests. It is actually an entire service — and a very beautiful one, I might add — devoted to the Mother of God. Parts are used throughout the Lenten season, and the entire hymn is chanted on the fifth Friday of Lent.
Here is a taste:
By singing praise to your maternity, we all exalt you as a spiritual temple, Mother of God! For the One Who Dwelt Within Your Womb, the Lord Who Holds All Things in His Hands, sanctified you, glorified you, and taught all men to sing to you:
Hail, O tabernacle of God the Word!
Hail, O Holy One, more holy than the saints!
Hail, O ark that the spirit has gilded!
Hail, inexhaustible treasure of life!
Hail, precious crown of rightful authorities!
Hail, sacred glory of reverent priests!
Hail, unshakable tower of the church!
Hail, unbreachable wall of the kingdom!
Hail, O you, through whom the trophies are raised!
Hail, O you, through whom the enemies are routed!
Hail, O healing of my body!
Hail, O salvation of my soul!
Hail, O bride and maiden ever-pure!
To read and pray the entire Akathist Hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary, you can find it here. Plus, check out this article from our magazine for more about this devotion. It just might enrich your Lenten journey and deepen your love of Christ.
In the meantime, you can also get a sense of this beautiful devotion in the video below: