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Theotokos, the Inexhaustible Cup, Russian Icon

Today, the Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The origin of the title “Mother of God” dates back to the third or fourth century. In 431, the Council of Ephesus officially declared Mary as the “Mother of God” or Theotokos (Greek term meaning “The God-bearer”). This is the first Marian dogma of the Church. As we begin the new year, the Church invites us to contemplate the divine maternity of Mary as an icon of peace.

Pope Paul VI, in his apostolic exhortation Marialis Cultus, said…

It is likewise a fitting occasion for renewing adoration of the newborn Prince of Peace, for listening once more to the glad tidings of the angels (cf. Lk. 2:14), and for imploring from God, through the Queen of Peace, the supreme gift of peace. It is for this reason that, in the happy concurrence of the Octave of Christmas and the first day of the year, we have instituted the World Day of Peace, an occasion that is gaining increasing support and already bringing forth fruits of peace in the hearts of many.[1]

In these unsettled times, it is fitting that we start this new year focusing on the fruits of peace brought to us in Jesus through His mother Mary. The year gone by was rife with fear, uncertainty, unrest, despair, and hopelessness. It behooves us to take time today to pray to the Mother of God for peace in our hearts, our homes, our neighborhoods, and throughout the world.

Pope Benedict XVI in his message for the celebration of the World Day of Peace in 2013, said…

To become authentic peacemakers, it is fundamental to keep in mind our transcendent dimension and to enter into constant dialogue with God, the Father of mercy, whereby we implore the redemption achieved for us by his only-begotten Son. In this way mankind can overcome that progressive dimming and rejection of peace which is sin in all its forms: selfishness and violence, greed and the will to power and dominion, intolerance, hatred and unjust structures.

The attainment of peace depends above all on recognizing that we are, in God, one human family. This family is structured, as the Encyclical Pacem in Terris taught, by interpersonal relations and institutions supported and animated by a communitarian “we”, which entails an internal and external moral order in which, in accordance with truth and justice, reciprocal rights and mutual duties are sincerely recognized. Peace is an order enlivened and integrated by love, in such a way that we feel the needs of others as our own, share our goods with others and work throughout the world for greater communion in spiritual values. It is an order achieved in freedom, that is, in a way consistent with the dignity of persons who, by their very nature as rational beings, take responsibility for their own actions.

Peace is not a dream or something utopian; it is possible. Our gaze needs to go deeper, beneath superficial appearances and phenomena, to discern a positive reality which exists in human hearts, since every man and woman has been created in the image of God and is called to grow and contribute to the building of a new world. God himself, through the incarnation of his Son and his work of redemption, has entered into history and has brought about a new creation and a new covenant between God and man (cf. Jer 31:31-34), thus enabling us to have a “new heart” and a “new spirit” (cf. Ez 36:26).

For this very reason the Church is convinced of the urgency of a new proclamation of Jesus Christ, the first and fundamental factor of the integral development of peoples and also of peace. Jesus is indeed our peace, our justice and our reconciliation (cf. Eph 2:14; 2 Cor 5:18). The peacemaker, according to Jesus’ beatitude, is the one who seeks the good of the other, the fullness of good in body and soul, today and tomorrow.[2]

Mary the Queen of Peace has bestowed upon us Jesus, the inexhaustible source of peace, blessing, and healing. This is exemplified in the beautiful Russian icon known as Theotokos, the Inexhaustible Cup (above). Mary is shown offering her precious child Jesus inside the Chalice of His Precious Blood. Countless people who have prayed with this icon have been healed from addictions and their destructive influences. There are many addictions for which we need healing – alcohol, drugs, selfishness, violence, greed, intolerance, hatred, lust, possessions – to name a few. We live in a culture that is divided, despairing, and without hope. Mary offers us the inexhaustible cup of her Son as a cure for all that troubles us. Jesus came to set us free from bondage to sin and death. The world will know peace to the extent that it knows Jesus.

This is the mission of every family, to bring others to a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ. May you be a light in the darkness.

Please join us in praying this excerpt from an Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos, the Inexhaustible Cup.

Angelic powers and multitudes of saints continually glorify you, the Theotokos, the Queen of all, the intercessor for us sinful Christians wallowing in lawlessness and remaining in sin. It is for our consolation and salvation that you in your mercy gave to us your miraculous icon. Looking at it, as at the one and only star among a multitude of stars on a starlit night, we fall down before you and cry from the very depth of our heart:

Rejoice, dwelling-place of the unapproachable God.

Rejoice, our constant wonder in goodness.

Rejoice, for you make our sorrow wipe away our sins.

Rejoice, for you make our grief heal our afflictions.

Rejoice, through your miraculous icon, you give us your heavenly mercy.

Rejoice, through your intercession, you give peace to our troubled heart.

Rejoice, our wonderful reconciliation with God

Rejoice, Queen who opens the gates to Paradise.

Rejoice, Theotokos, the Inexhaustible Cup who quenches our spiritual thirst.[3]

[1] Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus, 2 February 1974, §5; internet: http://www.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_p-vi_exh_19740202_marialis-cultus.html (accessed December 28, 2020).

[2] Benedict XVI, Message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2013, §3; internet: http://www.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/messages/peace/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20121208_xlvi-world-day-peace.html#_ftn3 (accessed December 28, 2020).

[3] Akathist Hymns, Reconstructed, Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos, the Inexhaustible Cup, Ikos 1; internet: https://akathistreconstructed.wordpress.com/theotokos-cup/, (accessed December 31, 2020).