Our patron the virgin Mary: Mother of the Lord

Standing center in Orthodox tradition concerning the Virgin Mary is a singular concept. She is the Theotokos, the woman who bore the life-giving God into human life. Any other title or characterization of this woman, who bore Christ, has to stand on this core truth.The major feasts of the Church, those which celebrate the events of Christ’s life, all have a Marian element. In the traditional liturgical year’s cycle of these events, there is always a “synaxis” on the day that follows an event of salvation history. For instance, the synaxisof the Feast of the Nativity celebrates the motherhood of Mary. Within the Divine Liturgy, Mary is always granted esteem because she is the Theotokos. Immediately following the Anaphora (lifting up of gifts) and the Consecration in the Divine Liturgy of St. Chrysostom, the famous hymn Axion Estin is always sung, recognizing Mary’s role in the miracle of the Eucharist:

It is truly right to bless you, Theotokos,
ever blessed, most pure, and mother of our God.
More honorable than the Cherubim,
and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim,
without corruption you gave birth to God the Word.
We magnify you, the true Theotokos.3

Mary, a young Hebrew woman, is the one human being to be praised by the angels of Heaven, who is ever blessed (filled with joy), most pure (filled with God’s presence and holiness), and mother (one who bore, nourished with her breasts, and raised up the man Jesus.) What can the believer do but magnify her, which is to raise her in esteem above all the inhabitants of Heaven.

Other than the many icons which celebrate Mary’s involvement in the life and work of Christ, in particular the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Crucifixion, the Ascension, and Pentecost, there are a host of other icons that magnify her cooperation with God’s plan of redemption and exemplify her life as a promise to all the faithful of God’s goodness, in particular the icon of the Dormition. Tradition teaches that at her death, Mary’s tomb was found empty. Most believe that she was taken from her burial site by her son to be with Him in Heaven. Others believe that perhaps she, too, awaits the final days to experience resurrection, but this is often the minority opinion. In every icon, there is a fathomless depth to the mystery of God that can be experienced in prayer and through contemplation of the icon.

No one knows the actual appearance of the Theotokos, but there is a strong, legendary tradition that she was painted by St. Luke. Whether or not there is truth to this legend, most Byzantine iconography portrays her with a characteristic appearance which involves: a narrow Semitic face, a long and slender nose, and dark brown eyes. Look for these features in ancient Byzantine icons, mentioning for example “the Mother of God, Salus Romani,” an 8th century icon found at Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.4

Orthodoxy does believe, as do western Christians, that miracles can occur in connection with an icon. To delve into the history of miraculous icons of the Theotokos, is to open a search into the mystery of God that stretches far back into history and includes literally hundreds of icons. An illuminating article on this subject is found in Mother of God, Representations of the Virgin in Byzantine Art, a publication of the Benaki Museum in 2000. Alexei Lidov described the inherent academic difficulty in studying miracle-working icons:

A study of the stories about miracle-working icons could become a special sphere of research requiring the joint efforts of historians, art historians and philologists. Promising research areas are the study of the structure of these stories and of the interrelationship between archetypal, legendary, literary and real historical motifs. One of the difficulties is that archetypal models are sometimes not invented by the author, but are an integral part of the actual event.5

Lidov does, however, point out the value in studying the miracle-working icons of many centuries: “We immediately discover the important fact that a great deal of valuable historical information often not to be found in other sources has accumulated around the miracle.”6

Two well-known feasts reporting a miraculous aspect in Mary’s work and which also are associated with important liturgical feasts in most Orthodox traditions (especially Greek and Russian) are interesting to the ecumenical discussion of Mary as Mediatrix. They represent spiritual gifts that come to the faithful through the Theotokos, demonstrating a tradition of supplication to the Virgin Mary long before church divisions. The first feast, Theotokos of the Life-Giving Fountain, recalls an event in the 4th century in the environs of Constantinople. A young man who was to become the Byzantine Emperor, Leo the Great, was out for a daily walk when he heard the cries of a blind man with a critical thirst for water. At first, not finding any water to help the blind man, the young man then heard the voice of a woman calling him to a place of water. The place became a place of healings. The tradition of the Theotokos who gives Life-giving water, or she who metaphorically is the “Source of the Source” — that is she who is the source of Christ’s healings as represented by water, became an important feast celebrated today on the Friday following the Great Pascha, Easter. The Friday after Easter in “Bright Week” in most Eastern Orthodox churches is a surprisingly joyful celebration of Christ providing life and sustenance, physically and spiritually, to all the faithful, through his mother. The Fountain shrine is still present today, just outside modern Istanbul, having been built, destroyed and then restored many times throughout the centuries. The feast of the Theotokos of the Fountain, like all other Marian feasts, signifies a significant theological truth, in this case how Christ is the well of life, and his mother is but the fountain.7

ICON: Theotokos of the Fountain – See how Virgin Mary represents a fountain within a fountain, a source flowing with the waters of life which in reality flow from from the Source, her Son.8

A beloved title for the Theotokos in the Orthodox tradition is that of “the Panagia.” This term theologically relates most closely to the Roman Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception. In the sense of this title, Mary is completely holy, truly blessed and pure. The difference in the theological concepts concerning mankind’s nature and the result of sin as they relate to Virgin Mary, “Panagia” for Orthodox theology and “Immaculate Conception” for Roman Catholic theology, rests mainly on two terms that are commonly used in the ecumenical discussion between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism – that of the theological understanding of “the Fall” for Orthodox theology and that of “Original Sin” for the Roman Catholic theology. Additionally, a further theological distinction has been discovered in the ecumenical exchange, that being that the Orthodox theologian prefers to speak of “the Fall” in terms of “justice or more specifically justification” and the Roman Catholic theologian tends to speak of the “juridical effects” of “original sin.” In over-simplistically stated terms, this means that the Orthodox view the salvific work of Christ more from a point of view of “justification,” where the Roman Catholic theologian views the salvific work of Christ as a satisfaction for the sin of mankind in a juridical way. In 1986, in an ecumenical discussion between Roman Catholic theologian Edward Yarnold SJ and Orthodox theologian Bishop Kallistos Ware, at an Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary meeting in Chichester, England, we find that these two theological positions may not be as untenable as we think. Bishop Kallistos agreed that he did not find himself “so very far apart from [Father Yarnold].”11 Father Yarnold described the human condition, after Adam and Eve sinned against God, to mean that humans come into the world with a “God shaped hole in their hearts,” that “the sin of the race causes each to come into this world with this God shaped hole unfilled, with this capability of receiving the Holy Spirit unrealized … an inherited spiritual defect.” However, “because of the work for which God destined Mary, that God shaped hole was never left unfilled, there was never in her a lack of original justice.”12 Bishop Kallistos stated he believed Virgin Mary was “from the very beginning of her existence … filled with grace for the task which she had to fulfill.” He responded affirmatively to Fr. Yarnold in saying: “Do I, as an Orthodox accept that, from the very beginning of her existence the Blessed Virgin Mary was filled with grace for the task which she had to fulfill? My answer is emphatically, Yes, I do believe that. But I also believe that she was given a fuller measure of grace at the Annunciation,”13 referring to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit to Mary at the moment of her fiat.

Bishop Ware explained that the Christian East sees a “continuity of sacred history” throughout the ages, putting the Mother of God in a line of humans who were seeking God in a prophetic and holy way, in a kind of growing closer and closer to the coming of salvation for humanity. Mary was “involved in the total solidarity of the human race, in our mutual responsibility”14 for the Fall.

Simply said, Orthodox theology thinks of the young Hebrew woman Mary of Galilee as a human like any other human who was or has ever been born. Her all-holiness was not a privilege, but truly a free response to God’s call. She was filled with the Holy Spirit and answered a total “yes” to the call of God’s plan for salvation.

Orthodox theology considers that humanity “fell” from God in the sin in the Garden, but that humanity continues to be born in the “image of God, (GN 1:27)” throughout the subsequent ages with the same integrity of human nature as Adam and Eve before their disobedience. The world, however, in fact the cosmos, into which subsequent human beings are born, is broken. They are whole and made in the image and likeness of God but come into a world that is filled with sinfulness. The Theotokos came into the world embracing a beautiful “imago Dei,” and received a fullness of God’s grace at the Annunciation that prepared her for her task. The fullness of the Holy Spirit came upon her with her agreement and for the subsequent Incarnation (Lk 1:35): “And the angel said to her in reply, ‘the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.’” In yet another ecumenical paper, Bishop Kallistos wrote:

Mary is an icon of human freedom and liberation. Mary is chosen, but she herself also chooses. Luke’s narrative speaks not only of divine initiative but also of human response, setting before us the entire dialectic of grace and freedom. Mary was predestined to be Mother of God, but she was also free.15

Orthodox theologian Dr. George S. Gabriel, in his book about the Theotokos entitled Mary the Untrodden Portal of God, contrasts the concepts of the all-holiness of Mary and Mary as Immaculate Conception:

The dogma of the Immaculate Conception severs Mary from her ancestors, from the forefathers, and from the rest of mankind. It marginalizes the preparatory history and economy of the Old Testament as well as the true meaning and holiness of the Theotokos herself. By severing her from fallen mankind and any consequences of the fall, this legalistic mechanism makes her personal holiness and theosis nonessential in the economy of salvation and, for that matter, even in her own salvation. Moreover, “it places in doubt her unity of nature with the human race and, therefore, the genuineness of salvation and Christ’s flesh as representative of mankind. [Qutoing, A., Yevtich, TheTheotokos: Four Homilies on the Mother of God by St. John of Damascus, 3].”16

For many Catholics, this theological debate concerning “Immaculate Conception” versus “the Panagia” is upsetting. However, in the ecumenical world there are three steps that have been discovered for churches to move forward together: 1) all must repent, 2) all must listen, and 3) all must reflect. In the Orthodox mind, words can bind down the mystery of God and words of dogmas about the Virgin Mary can become a problematic division. Ultimately, it will be those theologians, both Orthodox and Catholic, who approach these theological questions in the spirit of repentance, who pray, and who listen intently to each other, who will enlighten us further and perhaps find a ground of union. The experience of the mystery of God in liturgy and iconography of the ancient eastern tradition may help to resolve this conflict.

On another theological issue, which Protestants often question, can we say that Mary, the mother of Christ, is to be called “ever Virgin”? Undeniably, it is the Patristic heritage that upholds this truth of faith in the affirmative. The title “ever a virgin,” aeiparthenos, dates probably in its terminology to the 4th century. Origen refers to this idea of the perpetual virginity of Mary, and St. Athanasius clearly upholds it. From patristic times, Joseph is considered to be a widower who took on the responsibility of young Mary, as chosen to do so by his temple community. The brothers and sisters of the Lord, as mentioned in the New Testament, are consequently considered, in Orthodox tradition, to be Joseph’s children.

There are two special liturgical prayers of significant length that are important in the Orthodox tradition – the Akathistos (translated as “not sitting”) and the Paraklesis(Supplications to the Virgin). Again, there is a strong connection between these liturgical prayers and an iconographic tradition. The Akathistos hymn which is, in itself, a service prayed weekly throughout Great Lent, centers on the mystery of the Incarnation. Authorship is attributed to 5th-6th century hymnist Romanos the Melodist, but scholars find that his sources for the magnificent chanted poetry may have actually derived from more ancient Syriac poetry. The hymn, probably popular for many years for supplication to the Virgin Mary, was sung at a moment of crisis in the 10th century when Constantinople was menaced by invading marauders, the Avars. The legend is told that the people stood and sang the hymn all night long and the city was subsequently saved, thereby giving the title to the hymn, “Not Sitting.” In the Akathistos, a deeply mystical response is sung to repeated greetings of joy regarding the Theotokos. The greeting is a paradoxical phrase repeated over and over in the Akathistos, showing Orthodox regard for the mother of Christ to be awe-filled and beyond any kind of absolute comprehension. It is a phrase that portrays Mary, the mother of Christ, as one who experienced a betrothal with God, a spousal relationship that represents God’s offer of love and hope for response that is actually deeply biblical. The hymn represents a series of salutations to Mary, such as “Rejoice, To You through whom joy shall shine forth. Rejoice! To You through whom the curse will vanish. Rejoice! The recalling of the fallen Adam. Rejoice! The redemption of Eve’s tears. Rejoice! O height beyond human logic. Rejoice! O depth invisible even to the eyes of Angels. … Rejoice, Bride Unwedded.” Each section ends with the remarkable, “Rejoice, bride unwedded (Chaire, nymphe anymphete).” In the paradox, lies a remarkable mystery of spousal love that God offers.

In the ancient centuries of the Eastern Church, icons were connected with the singing of the Akathistos hymn. Most often, long processions would wind through narrow streets from shrine to shrine, with faithful singing the many verses of the hymn while carrying an iconographic banner or icon on stands.

The Service of the Small Paraklesis to the Most Holy Theotokos, is a liturgical service sung in the two-week Lenten period before the Feast of the Dormition, (paraklesis refers to a kind of salutation and petitioning set of prayers.) It is one of the most popular of Marian hymns and obviously demonstrates, that from ancient times Mary, the mother, is considered the mediator of the love and care of Her Son. The concluding verse of the Small Paraklesis in itself demonstrates the importance of her mediation as well as the humility of her motherhood:

I have you as Mediator
Before God who loves mankind;
May He not question my action
Before the hosts of the Angels,
I ask of you, O Virgin
Hasten now quickly to my aid.

You are a tower adorned with gold,
A city surrounded by twelve walls,
A shining throne touched by the sun,
A royal seat for the King,
O unexplainable wonder,
How do you nurse the Master?17

To enter an Orthodox Church building is to enter into the tradition of an ages-old spiritual culture where the faithful can prayerfully encounter Mary and her Son in liturgical prayer and iconography. Such an experience is discovered in liturgical chant and icons. One lights a candle and brings his or her own living light into the place of prayer. Then, it is the custom that one regards the icon of the Theotokos, bends, kisses the Child in her arms thus revering the Mother who bore Him. One then enters the community and joins the voices of joy and petition that abound, offering a sacrifice of one’s heart and one’s hands. One can’t avoid the icon of the Platytera offering her Son from the holy altar. One receives the Body and the Blood of Christ as Mary, Christ’s mother, received the body and blood of God’s son. One prays for those departed to God’s hands. On leaving the church building, one sees the icon of the Dormition above the departure way. One reflects. It is time to live the rest of one’s life with hope that Mary’s Dormition is the promise, the promise of a life with Christ that will never end. This is the Orthodox way, living with Mary.

© Virginia Kimball, Adjunct Professor, Department of Theology, Merrimack College, North Andover, MA September, 2006

[1] John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology, Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes (New York: Fordham University Press, 1979), 8-9.
[2] These three icons, Hodegetria, Eleousa, and Deesis are found on Orthodox Photos, http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/Icons_and_Frescoes/Icons/Mother_of_God/index.shtml
[3] “Online Chapel,” Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, http://www.goarch.org/en/Chapel/liturgical_texts/liturgy_hchc.asp (Accessed July 20, 2006.)
[4] Image found on website, http://www.iconsexplained.com/iec/00351.htm (Accessed July 20, 2006.)
[5] Alexei Lidov, “Miracle-working Icons of the Mother of God,” in Mother of God, Representations of the Virgin in Byzantine Art, edited by Maria Vassilaki (Skira Editore, Milan, Italy, and Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece, 2000), 49.
[6] Lidov, 47.
[7] Virginia Kimball, Liturgical Illuminations: Discovering Received Tradition in the Eastern Orthros of Feasts of the Theotokos, Doctoral Dissertation, International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio, 2003.
[8] Icon Gallery, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, http://www.goarch.org/en/resources/clipart/icondetail.asp?i=95&c=Theotokos&r=lifegivingfountain
[9] Icon of the Theotokos of Protection, privately owned by author.
[10] Platytera icon, apse and iconostasion, St. George’s Antiochian Church, Lowell, MA, http://www.saintgeorgelowell.org/photo14.html
[11] Bishop Kallistos T. Ware and Edward Yarnold SJ, “The Immaculate Conception, A Search for Convergence,” Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary, ESBVM Congress, Chichester, England, 1986, 11.
[12] Ware and Yarnold.
[13] Ware and Yarnold.
[14] Ware and Yarnold, 6.
[15] Kallistos Ware, “Mary Theotokos in the Orthodox Tradition,” The Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 1997, 14.
[16] George S. Gabriel, Ph.D., Mary, the Untrodden Portal (Thessalonica and Ridgewood, NJ: Zephr, 2000), 68.
[17] The Service of the Small Paraklesis (Intercessory Prayer) to the Most Holy Theotokos, translated and set to meter by Demetri Kangelaris and Nicholas Kasemeotes (Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1984), 37-38.

PLEASE NOTE: Our Church is in the process of merging with other independent Catholic jurisdictions and reorganizing and working to align itself with the Canons of Rome and the hierarchal organizational structure of the Roman Catholic Church (at least a close similarity within our Faith and doctrinal Belief structure). This is being done because our Church’s history is rooted in the Roman and Orthodox Catholic Churches, and the Old Catholic Church doctrine is founded on the Roman Catholic Doctrine (the Western Rite). Our work is not an abbreviation of the Roman Catholic Faith nor its Doctrinal Policies, Standing and Position. We believe in the seven Sacraments and in the Catholic Faith.Christ Catholic Church is one of many branches of Catholicism. We maintain our independence in a separate Jurisdiction of the Catholic Faith and still adhere to the Old Catholic Orthodox beliefs and faith as stated in our Statement and Confession of Faith, but will be more in-line with the Roman Catholic Church in our structure and most of the Roman Canon Law, with some identification an association with Catholic Orthodoxy.The below links take you to our History, Catechism, and Canon Law pages. These pages lists our Statement and Confession of Faith describing what we believe in, and the Canon Law page lists our General Canon Laws which are in force until our Church completes a merger with several other Catholic Jurisdictions coming under our Church Jurisdiction, which we will then post in this web site a comprehensive Canon Law. After the mergers are completed we will adopt a revised Statement and Confession of Faith and Canon Laws.Though we strive to align ourselves with Rome and currently follow and practice the Western Rite Mass (Roman Catholic Mass), and eventually our Church hierarchy and structure will be similar to the Roman Catholic Church, we are not and will not be under the authority of the Roman Catholic Church or the Roman Catholic Pope – we are, and will always remain, an independent Catholic Jurisdiction. However, we do follow the mandates of the Pope in the overall operation of the Catholic Church as a Universal whole Catholic Church. We will still allow our Clergy to marry, including our Bishops, and our Holy Communion Table and Sacraments will always be free, open, and available to all who wish to share with us in the Eucharist\Sacraments, among other beliefs we will still keep as the basic tenets of our faith.Our Church existence is of the Devine intervention of God, and our mission is spreading the Good News (The Gospel of Jesus Christ) winning souls for God, and to help the less fortunate of our global Christian community, even extending our help to others of different faiths and beliefs.In our efforts to merge with other independent Catholic Jurisdictions and also in working to bring our Church in-line with the Roman Catholic Church in many areas, we use various terms from the Roman Catholic hierarchy and structure (Western Rite) and some terms from the Orthodox Catholic Church (Eastern or Byzantine Rite).In the mean time, while the Church is defining its Church hierarchy and structure and completes it reorganization and mergers, the term “Pastor” and “Priest” shall mean a validly ordained Priest. The terms “Synod of Bishops”, “Holy Synod”, “House of Bishops”, “Curia”, and “College of Bishops” shall refer to and mean “Holy Synod” – they are all one-in-the-same. For the time being, we will refer to this body as “Holy Synod”. The Holy Synod is a group of Bishops that govern and administer the affairs of the Church under the Holy See of the Synod, the Hly Synod Archbishop.To read about our Church history, Catechism, and Canon Law, please click on the links below:

My church history

Introduction to Archbishop Alfred DeLeo

Archbishop DeLeo’s calling by God to the Christian Family in the mission field started at an early age, but he did not act upon it until the late 1970’s.  Starting in the late 1970’s, Archbishop DeLeo began a long, arduous and tumultuous journey with his relationship with God.

In an Independent Catholic Church, in April, 1981, Archbishop DeLeo was ordained a Deacon, and in May, 1984, ordained as a Priest.  In August, 2000, Archbishop DeLeo was consecrated as a Bishop.  Then in December, 2002, elevated to the position of Archbishop.

His zealousness for fighting against prejudices and discrimination, advocating for the less fortunate and poor, fighting for unpopular but necessary causes, challenging his government to improve the quality of life for its citizens, became the driving force of his desire for the Priesthood.

Archbishop DeLeo is currently residing in Europe and is serving in the Christian Mission field in Europe and Eastern Europe for his Church working to improve the quality of medical care in poor countries.

Archbishop DeLeo is in Good Standing with the The Saint Francis of Assisi Mission Church (of the Old Catholic Orthodox Church of Cluj-Napoca Synod Diocese); The Old Catholic Orthodox Bishops of the Western Rite; The Roman Catholic Church; The Eastern Orthodox Churches; The Christian Orthodox Catholic Church; The Old Catholic Orthodox Church, Cluj-Napoca Synod; Grace Church of Miami Shores; the Anglican Church; Independent Catholic Churches; and their affiliated Churches and Missions world-wide.

Archbishop DeLeo is currently the acting, Presiding Archbishop-Primate and Apostolic Administrator of The Old Catholic Orthodox Bishops of the Western Rite; The Christian Orthodox Catholic Church; and the The Old Catholic Orthodox Church, Cluj- Napoca Synod.

To work with the people on the local level, he takes time out of his busy schedule to devote time as the Parish Priest at The Saint Francis of Assisi Mission Church (of the Old Catholic Orthodox Church of Cluj-Napoca Synod Diocese) in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and when visiting his home in Florida, he assists as Parish Priest at Grace Church of Miami Shores.

As part of his primary duties, Archbishop DeLeo oversees all of the world-wide mission projects for the Church.  Archbishop DeLeo is the former Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Italy, Romania, Bulgaria and India.

Archbishop DeLeo is consecrated “Sub Conditione”.  As such, under the Sub Conditione rule, Archbishop DeLeo’s Valid Order is in the Line of Succession of the Apostles (Apostolic Succession)

Though Archbishop DeLeo is the top-ranking Archbishop of his Church, and at present there is no Office of Cardinal in his Church, his equivalent rank-in-standing to other Catholic Church jusrisdictions is as follows: he is recognized as a Superior\Major (Cardinal) Archbishop in the Roman line under the Roman Catholic Church and the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church, and a Metropolitan or Patriarch under the Eastern Orthodox (Byzantine) line by the Eastern Orthodox (Byzantine) Catholic Churches, and all Old Catholic, Independent Catholic and Anglican Churches.

During the week of March 10 – 17, 2006, in his love for and dedication to God, Jesus Christ, and the Catholic Faith, Archbishop DeLeo re-committed his life to God and Jesus Christ and was re-confirmed, re-ordained, re-consecrated and sub conditioned as a Bishop, and again, elevated to Archbishop under Sub Conditione.

Sub Conditione consecration is a procedure in which two already consecrated bishops consecrate each other, thereby sharing their apostolic lines. In that way, each of their churches recognizes without question the apostolic succession of the other. This has been used, for example, to remove doubts about the validity of Anglican and Episcopalian successions by adding the universally recognized Old Catholic line.

During and after the Second World War, Mar Georgius I, Patriarch of Glastonbury and Catholicos of the West began unifying the various strands of Old Catholics and independent Catholics. By 1956, through sub conditione consecrations, he had accumulated all sixteen lines of Apostolic succession known to exist: Syrian-Antiochene, Syrian-Malabar, Syrian-Gallican, Syro-Chaldean, Chaldean-Uniate, Coptic Orthodox, Armenian-Uniate, Order of Corporate Reunion, Old Catholic, Mariavite, Nonjuring, Anglican, Russian Orthodox, Russo-Syrian Orthodox, Greek-Melkite, and Liberal Catholic.

Bishop William Donovan who consecrated Bishop Bowman on April 18, 1996 was in the direct line of Archbishops Wadle and Aneed.  The Principal Consecrator, Bishop Donovan, was, at that time, the Primate of the American Catholic Church. Bishop Orlando Lima y Aguirre,  in the Old Catholic line of Bishops Vilatte, Mathew, De Landas, and Carfora was a second consecrator.  Bishop Grant Cover, an independent Anglican bishop, was Bishop Bowman’s third consecrator

Later in 1996, Bishop Bowman was consecrated sub conditione by Archbishop Maurice McCormick.In 1998, Bishop Bowman was again consecrated  sub conditione by  Bishop John Reeves, the pastor of St. Peter the Apostle, and Bishop of the Catholic Church of The Americas, Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida, who is in the Bishop Vilatte line and also has a succession from Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa of Brazil, a Roman Catholic bishop who broke with Rome.

In 2006, Archbishop Alfred DeLeo re-affirmed and re-dedicated his life to God.  He was re-confirmed in the Catholic Faith, re-ordained, and re-consecrated sub conditione by Bishop Robert Bowman, thus bringing him in line with true Apostolic Succession.  

[Go Up]Lines of Succession


1. Scipione Rebiba, Auxiliary Bishop of Chieti, Titular Patriarch of Constantinople, was elected Titular Bishop of Amicle and Auxiliary to  Gian Pietro Cardinal Carafa, Archbishop of Chieti (who later became  Pope Paul IV) on March 16, 1541. Rebiba consecrated Guilio Antonio Santoro.

2. Guilio Antonio Santoro, Archbishop of Santa Severina, was consecrated on March 12, 1566 in the Pauline Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace. His co-consecrator’s were Annibale Caracciolo, Bishop of Isola and Giacomo de`Giacomelli, Bishopemeritus of Belcastro.  Santoro consecrated Girolama Bernerio.

3.  Girolama Bernerio, O.P., Bishop of Ascoli Piceno, was consecrated on September 7, 1586 in the Basilicaof the Twelve Holy Apostles, Rome. His co-consecrator’s were Guilio Masetti, Bishop of Reggio Emilia and Ottaviano Paravicini, Bishop of Alessandria. Bernerio consecrated Galeazzo Sanvitale.

4. Galeazzo Sanvitale, Archbishop of Bari. He was consecrated April 4, 1604 in the Chapel of the Apostolic Sacristy, Rome. His co-consecrator`s were Claudio Rangoni, Bishop of Piacenza and Giovanni Ambrogio Caccia, Bishop of Castro di Toscana. Sanvitale consecrated Lodovico Ludovisi.

5. Lodovico Ludovisi, Cardinal Archbishop of Bologna, was consecrated on May 2, 1621 in the private chapel of  Sanvitale, near St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome. Assisting  Sanvitale were Cosmo de Torres, Titular Archbishop of Hadrianopolis and Ottavio Ridolfi, Bishop of Atiano.  Ludovisi consecrated Luigi Caetani.

6.  Luigi Caetani, Titular Patriarch of Antioch, was consecrated on June 12, 1622 in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome. Assisting Ludovisi were:  Galeazzo Sanvitale, Archbishop emeritus of Bari and  Vulpiano Volpi, Archbishop emeritus of Chieti.  Caetani consecrated Ulderico Carpegna.

7.  Ulderico Carpegna, Bishop of Gubbio was consecrated on October 7, 1630 in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace of the Quirinal, Rome. His co-consecrator’s were Antonio Ricciulli, Bishop emeritus of Belcastro and Vicegerent of Rome, and Benedetto Landi, Bishop of Fossombrone. Carpegna consecrated Paluzzo Cardinal Paluzzi Altieri Degli Albertoni.

8. Paluzzo Cardinal Paluzzi Altieri Degli Albertoni, was consecrated on May 2, 1666 Bishop of Montefiascone e Corneto, in the Church of San Silvestro in Capite, Rome. Assisting  Carpegna were Stefano Ugolini, Titular Archbishop of Corinth and Giovanni Tommaso Pinelli, Bishop of Albenga. Altieri consecratedPietro Francesco (Vincenzo Maria) Orsini de Gravina, O.P..

9. Pietro Francesco (Vincenzo Maria) Orsini de Gravina, O.P., Cardinal Archbishop of Manfredonia (who later became Pope  Benedict XIII), was consecrated on February 3, 1675 in the Church of SS. Domenico e Sisto, Rome. His co-consecrator’s were Stefano Brancaccio, Archbishop-Bishop of Viterbo e Tuscania and Costanzo Zani, O.S.B., Bishop of Imola. Orsini consecrated Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini.

10. Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini, Titular Archbishop of Theodosia, who became Pope Benedict XIV in 1740, was consecrated on July 16, 1724 in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace of the Quirinal, Rome. Orsiniwas assisted by  Giovanni Francesco Nicolai, O.F.M.Ref., Titular Archbishop of Myra and  Nicola Maria Lercari, Titular Archbishop of Nazianzus. ( **Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini and those previous to him, are in the Episcopal Lineage of His Holiness,  John Paul II – Karl Wojtyla**). Lambertini consecrated Carlo della Torre Rezzonico.

11. Carlo della Torre Rezzonico, was consecrated on March 19, 1743 and became Pope Clement XIII in 1758. His co-consecrator’s were Archbishops Scopio Borghese and  Ignatius Reali. Pope Clement XIII (Rezzonico) consecrated Bernadinus Giraud.

12. Bernadinus Giraud, was consecrated on April 26, 1767 and became a Cardinal in 1771. Assisted by Archbishop  Marcus Antonius Conti and Bishop Iosefus Maria Carafa, Cardinal Giraud consecrated on February 23, 1777 Alexander Matthaeus.

13. Alexander Matthaeus, who became a Cardinal in 1779, was consecrated on February 23, 1777. Assisted by Bishops Geraldus Macioti and  Franciscus Albertini, Cardinal Matthaeus consecrated Pietro FrancescoCardinal Galeffi. 

14. Pietro Francesco Cardinal Galeffi, who became a Cardinal in 1803, was consecrated on September 12, 1819. Assisted by Archbishops Ioannes Franciscus Falzacappa and Iosephus della Porta Rondiana, Cardinal  Galeffi consecrated Giacomo Filippo Cardinal Fransoni.

15.  Giacomo Filippo Cardinal Fransoni was consecrated on December 8, 1822 and became a Cardinal in 1826. Assisted by Patriarch Joseph Valerga and Bishop  Rudensindus Salvado, Cardinal Fransoniconsecrated Carlo Cardinal Sacconi.

16. Carlo Cardinal Sacconi was consecrated on June 8, 1851 and became a Cardinal in 1861. Assisted by Archbishops Salvator Nobili Vitelleschi and Franciscus Xaverius Fredericus de Merode, Cardinal Sacconiconsecrated Edward Henry Cardinal Howard.

17. Edward Henry Cardinal Howard was consecrated on June 30, 1872 and became a Cardinal in 1877. Assisted by Archbishops Alessandro, Sanminiatelli, Zabarella and Bishop Guilio Lenti, Cardinal Howardconsecrated Mariano Cardinal Rampolla del Tindaro.

18. Mariano Cardinal Rampolla del Tindaro was consecrated on December 8, 1882 and became a Cardinal 1887. In Brazil, Cardinal  Rampolla del Tindaro consecrated Joaquim Cardinal Arcoverde de Albuquerque Cavalcanti.

19. Joaquim Cardinal Arcoverde de Albuquerque Cavalcanti was consecrated, for the Roman Catholic Church, on October 26, 1890 and became a Cardinal in 1905. Cardinal de Albuquerque Cavalcanticonsecrated Sebastião Leme Cardinal da Silveira Cintra.

20. Sebastião Leme Cardinal da Silveira Cintra, was consecrated on June 4, 1911 and became an Archbishop in 1921. Assisted by  Dom Alberto Jose Goncalves and Dom Benedito Paulo Alves de Souza, Archbishop de Silveira Cintra consecrated Carlos Duarte Costa.

21. Carlos Duarte Costa who had been ordained a Roman Catholic priest on April l, 1911. Costa was consecrated a Roman Catholic bishop on December 8, 1924 and remained such until he retired in 1945. Costa retired because Rome refused to take a stand against the relocation of War Criminals from the Nazi regime to his homeland of Brazil. He served as the Patriarch of the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church from 1945 to 1961. Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa consecrated Milton Cunha

22.  Milton Cunha was consecrated on June 5, 1960.  Bishop Cunha consecrated  Propheta and Giuseppe Santo Eusebio Pace. 

23. Giuseppe Santo Eusebio Pace was consecrated on October 3, 1968. Bishop Pace consecrated Ignazio Antonio Teodosio Pietroburgo.

24.  Ignazio Antonio Teodosio Pietroburgo was consecrated on October 15, 1978. Bishop Pietroburgoconsecrated Donald Lawrence Jolly-Gabriel

25.  Donald Lawrence Jolly-Gabriel was consecrated on June 25,1980 and he consecrated Denis Martel

26. Denis Martel was consecrated on July 8, 1995. Bishop Martel consecrated John Robert Reeves

27. John Robert Reeves on September 29, 1996. Bishop Reeves consecrated:

28. Robert M. Bowman in 1998.

29. Alfred DeLeo was re-confirmed in the Catholic Faith, re-ordained, and re-consecrated between March 10 – 17, 2006, sub conditione by Bishop Robert Bowman, thus bringing him in line with true Apostolic Succession..

30. Jerry Stephenson was consecrated on March 27, 2009, sub conditione by Bishop Alfred DeLeo, thus bringing him in line with true Apostolic Succession.

[Go Up]

With great joy I announce my ordination

It took me about a year but I am finally an ordained priest. I’ve been

wanting to become a priest since I was 14 years old and I was thinking

this probably would not happen anymore until I learned about the

independent Catholic and Orthodox churches. I really wanted to be in a

mainline denomination I really felt home with the Episcopal Church

but that was not in the cards for me. I also tried with the Lutheran

ELCA it took me about a year but I am finally an ordained priest. I’ve

been wanting to become a priest since I was 14 years old and I was

thinking this probably would not happen anymore until I learned about

the independent Catholic and Orthodox churches. I really wanted to be

in a mainline denomination I really felt home with the Episcopal

Church but that was not in the cards for me. I also tried with the

Lutheran ELCA and United Methodist Church but they also have no

place for people with learning disabilities to be clergy. No I know I’m

not the smartest or the brightest but I know my passion for Christ is

very real and I am truly grateful to the Archbishop Alfred Deleo who

has given me this chance. I learned that he is Registered sex offender

and people said because of this my ordination was a ballot and no one

would do anything with my church because of that. Many in the

independent Catholic Church are very petty individuals who make it

very hard to become clergy and some of them will make it way too easy.

Many clergy do not even have a college education let alone a seminary

education. I have a seminary education and I am very proud of that

because I was told that I wasn’t smart enough or good enough to go to

college to let alone get my masters in divinity. I am also working on my

doctors of ministry which I hope to accomplish in the next two years.

So maybe I’m not good enough for the Episcopal Church or the

Lutheran Church or the Methodist Church I have found a home with

the independent Catholic Church. I cannot speak for others but I

promise you if you come to my church to worship and allow me to be a

pastor for you I will do my best to represent you and teach you about

the gospel. And I would never allow register sex offender to be alone

with children ever. I’d like to practice the Episcopal church policy

where you never meet with anybody alone and you only meet with

children with their parents there. There’s nothing more that show their

safety is paramount to the ministries. I sometimes will screw up with

my worthy because I like social Grace and I have dysgraphia but I

promise you I will give you the very best I can and I thank you for g

Giving me a chance. I will try not to let you down by also no I will not let you down.

Sunday 3 April 2022Lent 5Passiontide beginsYear C

Most merciful God,

who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ

delivered and saved the world:

grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross

we may triumph in the power of his victory;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.


Gracious Father,

you gave up your Son

out of love for the world:

lead us to ponder the mysteries of his passion,

that we may know eternal peace

through the shedding of our Saviour’s blood,

Jesus Christ our Lord.


Isaiah 43.16-21

16 Thus says the Lord,
   who makes a way in the sea,
   a path in the mighty waters, 
17 who brings out chariot and horse,
   army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
   they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: 
18 Do not remember the former things,
   or consider the things of old. 
19 I am about to do a new thing;
   now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
   and rivers in the desert. 
20 The wild animals will honour me,
   the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
   rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people, 
21   the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise. 

This is the word of the Lord.

AllThanks be to God.

Psalm 126

1  When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, •
   then were we like those who dream.
2  Then was our mouth filled with laughter •
   and our tongue with songs of joy.
3  Then said they among the nations, •
   ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’
4  The Lord has indeed done great things for us, •
   and therefore we rejoiced.
5  Restore again our fortunes, O Lord, •
   as the river beds of the desert.
6  Those who sow in tears •
   shall reap with songs of joy.
7  Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed, •
   will come back with shouts of joy,
      bearing their sheaves with them.

Philippians 3.4b-14

4even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh.

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

7 Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.13Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

This is the word of the Lord.

AllThanks be to God.

Gospel Reading

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.

AllGlory to you, O Lord.

John 12.1-8

12Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?’6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

AllPraise to you, O Christ.

Post Communion

Lord Jesus Christ,

you have taught us

that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters

we do also for you:

give us the will to be the servant of others

as you were the servant of all,

and gave up your life and died for us,

but are alive and reign, now and for ever.

Sunday 27 March 2022 Alternative 1 of 24th Sunday of LentYear C

Reading Notes: Mothering Sunday may be celebrated in preference to the provision for the Fourth Sunday of Lent.


Merciful Lord,

absolve your people from their offences,

that through your bountiful goodness

we may all be delivered from the chains of those sins

which by our frailty we have committed;

grant this, heavenly Father,

for Jesus Christ’s sake, our blessed Lord and Saviour,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.


Merciful Lord,

you know our struggle to serve you:

when sin spoils our lives

and overshadows our hearts,

come to our aid

and turn us back to you again;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Joshua 5.9-12

9The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt.’ And so that place is called Gilgal to this day.

10 While the Israelites were encamped in Gilgal they kept the passover in the evening on the fourteenth day of the month in the plains of Jericho. 11On the day after the passover, on that very day, they ate the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. 12The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land, and the Israelites no longer had manna; they ate the crops of the land of Canaan that year.

This is the word of the Lord.

AllThanks be to God.

Psalm 32

1  Happy the one whose transgression is forgiven, •
   and whose sin is covered.
2  Happy the one to whom the Lord imputes no guilt, •
   and in whose spirit there is no guile.
3  For I held my tongue; •
   my bones wasted away
      through my groaning all the day long.
4  Your hand was heavy upon me day and night; •
   my moisture was dried up like the drought in summer.
5  Then I acknowledged my sin to you •
   and my iniquity I did not hide.
6  I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ •
   and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
7  Therefore let all the faithful make their prayers to you
      in time of trouble; •
   in the great water flood, it shall not reach them.
8  You are a place for me to hide in;
      you preserve me from trouble; •
   you surround me with songs of deliverance.
9  ‘I will instruct you and teach you
      in the way that you should go; •
   I will guide you with my eye.
10  ‘Be not like horse and mule which have no understanding; •
   whose mouths must be held with bit and bridle,
      or else they will not stay near you.’
11  Great tribulations remain for the wicked, •
   but mercy embraces those who trust in the Lord.
12  Be glad, you righteous, and rejoice in the Lord; •
   shout for joy, all who are true of heart.

2 Corinthians 5.16-end

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

This is the word of the Lord.

AllThanks be to God.

Gospel Reading

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke.

AllGlory to you, O Lord.

Luke 15.1-3,11b-end

15Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’

3 So he told them this parable:

11 Then Jesus said, ‘There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.” So he divided his property between them. 13A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and travelled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living.14When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17But when he came to himself he said, “How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.’ ” 20So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21Then the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”22But the father said to his slaves, “Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate;24for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” And they began to celebrate.

25 ‘Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27He replied, “Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.” 28Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29But he answered his father, “Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!” 31Then the fathersaid to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.” ’

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

AllPraise to you, O Christ.

Post Communion

Lord God,

whose blessed Son our Saviour

gave his back to the smiters

and did not hide his face from shame:

give us grace to endure the sufferings of this present time

with sure confidence in the glory that shall be revealed;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Friday 25 March 2022Lent 3Annunciation of Our Lord to the Blessed Virgin MaryYear C

We beseech you, O Lord,

pour your grace into our hearts,

that as we have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel,

so by his cross and passion

we may be brought to the glory of his resurrection;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.


Isaiah 7.10-14

10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, 11Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. 12But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. 13Then Isaiah said: ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also?14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.

This is the word of the Lord.

AllThanks be to God.

Psalm 40.5-11

5  Great are the wonders you have done, O Lord my God.
      How great your designs for us! •
   There is none that can be compared with you.
6  If I were to proclaim them and tell of them •
   they would be more than I am able to express.
7  Sacrifice and offering you do not desire •
   but my ears you have opened;
8  Burnt offering and sacrifice for sin you have not required; •
   then said I: ‘Lo, I come.
9  ‘In the scroll of the book it is written of me
      that I should do your will, O my God; •
   I delight to do it: your law is within my heart.’
10  I have declared your righteousness in the great congregation; •
   behold, I did not restrain my lips,
      and that, O Lord, you know.
11  Your righteousness I have not hidden in my heart;
      I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; •
   I have not concealed your loving-kindness and truth
      from the great congregation.

Hebrews 10.4-10

4For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
   but a body you have prepared for me; 
6 in burnt-offerings and sin-offerings
   you have taken no pleasure. 
7 Then I said, “See, God, I have come to do your will, O God”
   (in the scroll of the book it is written of me).’ 
8When he said above, ‘You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt-offerings and sin-offerings’ (these are offered according to the law), 9then he added, ‘See, I have come to do your will.’ He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. 10And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

This is the word of the Lord.

AllThanks be to God.

Gospel Reading

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke.

AllGlory to you, O Lord.

Luke 1.26-38

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.28And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ 34Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ 35The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.’ 38Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

AllPraise to you, O Christ.

Post Communion

God most high,

whose handmaid bore the Word made flesh:

we thank you that in this sacrament of our redemption

you visit us with your Holy Spirit

and overshadow us by your power;

strengthen us to walk with Mary the joyful path of obedience

and so to bring forth the fruits of holiness;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Sunday 20 March 20223rd Sunday of LentYear C

Almighty God,

whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain,

and entered not into glory before he was crucified:

mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross,

may find it none other than the way of life and peace;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.


Eternal God,

give us insight

to discern your will for us,

to give up what harms us,

and to seek the perfection we are promised

in Jesus Christ our Lord.


Isaiah 55.1-9

55Ho, everyone who thirsts,
   come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
   come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
   without money and without price. 
2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
   and your labour for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
   and delight yourselves in rich food. 
3 Incline your ear, and come to me;
   listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
   my steadfast, sure love for David. 
4 See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
   a leader and commander for the peoples. 
5 See, you shall call nations that you do not know,
   and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
   for he has glorified you. 

6 Seek the Lord while he may be found,
   call upon him while he is near; 
7 let the wicked forsake their way,
   and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
   and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. 
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts. 

This is the word of the Lord.

AllThanks be to God.

Psalm 63.1-9

1  O God, you are my God; eagerly I seek you; •
   my soul is athirst for you.
2  My flesh also faints for you, •
   as in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.
3  So would I gaze upon you in your holy place, •
   that I might behold your power and your glory.
4  Your loving-kindness is better than life itself •
   and so my lips shall praise you.
5  I will bless you as long as I live •
   and lift up my hands in your name.
6  My soul shall be satisfied, as with marrow and fatness, •
   and my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips,
7  When I remember you upon my bed •
   and meditate on you in the watches of the night.
8  For you have been my helper •
   and under the shadow of your wings will I rejoice.
9  My soul clings to you; •
   your right hand shall hold me fast.

1 Corinthians 10.1-13

10I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3and all ate the same spiritual food, 4and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.

6 Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. 7Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.’ 8We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9We must not put Christto the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. 10And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. 12So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. 13No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

This is the word of the Lord.

AllThanks be to God.

Gospel Reading

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke.

AllGlory to you, O Lord.

Luke 13.1-9

13At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2He asked them, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? 3No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. 4Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.’

6 Then he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. 7So he said to the gardener, “See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?” 8He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig round it and put manure on it. 9If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.” ’

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

AllPraise to you, O Christ.

Post Communion

Merciful Lord,

grant your people grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil,

and with pure hearts and minds to follow you, the only God;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Mary the Mother of God

Why is it proper to honor Mary?
A. To begin with, the Bible shows us it is. Beyond this, there are two basic reasons it is proper to honor her:

  1. because she is the mother of Jesus Christ, our Lord and God;
  2. because she is a model of obedient submission to God.
    Honoring Mary does not mean we “worship” her.
    I. The Bible shows us it is proper to honor Mary
    A. The angel Gabriel honored Mary when he came to announce that she would bear a Son: “And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed [Greek eulogeméne, “spoken well of, praised”] are you among women!’ ” (Luke 1:28).
    B. God honored Mary. Gabriel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30).
    C. Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, honored Mary. When Mary went to visit Elizabeth, Elizabeth greeted her, saying, “Blessed [Greek eulogeméne] are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:42, 43).
    D. Mary herself prophesied, “henceforth all generations will call me blessed [Greek makariousin]” (Luke 1:48).
    E. Jesus honored Mary. We can be sure of this because He obeyed the Ten Commandments perfectly, the fifth commandment being, “You shall honor your father and your mother.”
    Conclusion: If Mary was held in honor by God, by Gabriel, by Elizabeth, and by our Lord Himself, then those who follow Him should do likewise. If not, they may have to answer to Him for it someday.
    II. We honor Mary because she is the Mother of Jesus Christ, our Lord and God
    A. Mary was specially chosen and prepared by God to fulfill this task. She had a holiness and spirituality that made her pleasing to God. She was not just “in the right place at the right time.”
    B. Because of this she holds a special place in our salvation as the means through which the Son of God came into our world as a man.
    C. This was a very great honor that remains uniquely hers forever. This is why the Church calls her “more honorable than the cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the seraphim.”
    D. The terms “Mother of God” and “God-bearer” [Greek Theotokos] are also proper titles for Mary.
  3. These terms have been especially crucial to the Church ever since the fifth century, when the Church was faced with the attack of a heretic named Nestorius.
  4. These terms were not originally employed in order to exalt Mary, but rather in order to exalt Christ and to protect the true Christian belief about Him.
  5. If Christ was truly God and if Mary was Christ’s mother, then it follows that she can rightly be called the Mother of God or the God-bearer.
    a. This does not mean she had anything to do with His eternal existence as God or with originating His divinity.
    b. It means the very same person she gave birth to in Bethlehem two thousand years ago was also the eternal Son of God who existed before all ages.
    c. It means that no one can say, as Nestorius was attempting to say, that Jesus—who was Mary’s son and God’s eternal Son—was really two different persons.
  6. Referring to Mary as the “Mother of God” protects and preserves the mystery of the Incarnation. As such, then, it is not an optional title of devotion, but a dogma that lies at the very heart of the Christian faith.
    Conclusion: Because of Mary’s special role in our salvation as the mother of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, all Christians should give her due honor. Protestants need to understand the term “Mother of God” and confess her as such. Those who cannot or will not do so show they may not understand who Jesus Christ truly is.
    III. We honor Mary because she is a model of obedient submission to God
    A. Later in Jesus’ ministry, a woman cried out to Him from a crowd, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” (Luke 11:27). But Jesus replied, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (v. 28). Jesus was not dishonoring His mother here. Rather, He was giving an even greater reason for honoring her, for Mary was one who had heard the word of God and kept it. Another legitimate translation of Jesus’ reply could be, “Yes, indeed, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” (Compare Romans 10:18 and Philippians 3:8 for other places where the Greek word menounge is translated “Yes, indeed.”)
    B. When Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her she was to bear the Son of God, though troubled and unclear as to what all this would mean, she nevertheless replied, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
  7. Without this willing cooperation on Mary’s part, Christ could not have been born to save the world.
  8. Because of this obedient cooperation, Mary became a model and a picture of Christian submission and obedience to God.
  9. Moreover, Christ dwelling within her and being born from her became a picture of the fruit that can come from such cooperation with the will of God.
    Conclusion: Because of Mary’s special role in submitting to the will of God so that Christ could be born into the world, she has become a picture and a model for every Christian; for without such voluntary and humble submission to God, no one can bring forth fruits of righteousness. Many Christians would benefit by re-establishing Mary as a role model of the faith.
    IV. Honoring Mary does not mean we “worship” her
    A. Worship belongs to God alone.
    B. The honor shown to Mary means we give her special esteem and hold her in high regard above all others.
  10. The Orthodox Church has always been careful to maintain this distinction. The Church uses the Greek word latreia to define the worship reserved for God alone and douleia for the honor proper to Mary and other saints.
  11. In English, we can show this distinction by distinguishing between the words “worship” and “honor,” or “worship” and “veneration.”
    C. Many Protestants, though, do not even honor Mary at all, but have actually dishonored her by ignoring her special place in the Church.
  12. They have done this in reaction to what they have seen as abuses within the Roman Catholic Church.
  13. But in so doing they have “thrown the baby out with the bath water.”
  14. The tradition of the Orthodox Church has remained free from these abuses. For example, Orthodox tradition does not hold to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary as it was formulated by Pope Pius IX in 1854. (This teaches that Mary herself was conceived and born without original sin.)
    Conclusion: Protestants need to stop dishonoring Mary and return to honoring her rightly. This will not rob God of worship; rather, it will bring Him greater glory as we recognize those whom He has glorified with His grace.
    In summary, we can show that it is proper to honor Mary because this is consistent with certain examples in the Bible; because she is the Mother of our Lord; and because, through her humble cooperation and submission to the will of God, she became a fitting role model for all Christians to follow. Furthermore, Protestants need to realize that the terms “Mother of God” and “God-bearer,” while honoring Mary, are meant foremost to exalt Christ and to protect the true belief about His Incarnation. Then they need to confess Mary as God’s Mother and come in line with the long-standing belief and practice of the Church.