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Divine Motherhood Category: Theotokos …between created and uncreated…

Theotokos. Spirit-bearer
In the works of Fr. Sergei Bulgakov

The temple that the Holy Spirit came to inhabit

As the temple that the Holy Spirit came to inhabit at the Annunciation, She is the Spirit-Bearer, the transparent human image of the revelation of the Holy Spirit, who, according to His hypostatic property, does not became incarnate but makes incarnate and glorifies. Alone of God's creatures found worthy of being inhabited by the Holy Spirit, She is the human hypostatic image of the Holy Spirit. One can say that, in this sense, She is the Holy Spirit not incarnate but manifested in a human hypostasis. There is no, and can be no, greater and fuller manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Thus, after the ascension of Christ and the assumption of the Mother of God, there exists in the heavens, with the "Heavenly Man" (1 Cor. 15:47-49), a human image of the Holy Spirit, not according to incarnation, which cannot be, but according to a perfect spiritual conformity with Him.

Sergius Bulgakov
The Bride of the Lamb
Section III. Eschatology

The vessel of the fulfilment of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is revealed to creation only through action, His gifts. ‹…› A personal incarnation, a hominization of the Third Hypostasis, does not exist. Still, if there is no personal incarnation of the Third Hypostasis, no hominization in the same sense in which the Son of God became human, there can all the same be such a human, creaturely hypostasis, such a being which is the vessel of the fulfilment of the Holy Spirit. It completely surrenders its human hypostatic life, makes it transparent for the Holy Spirit, by bearing witness about itself: behold the handmaid of the Lord. Such a being, the Most Holy Virgin, is not a personal incarnation of the Holy Spirit, but she becomes His personal, animate receptacle, an absolutely spirit-born creature, the Pneumatophoric Human. For, if there is no hypostatic spirit-incarnation, there can be a hypostatic pneumatophoricity, by which the creaturely hypostasis in its creatureliness completely surrenders itself and as it were dissolves in the Holy Spirit. In this complete penetration by Him it becomes a different nature for its own self, i.e., divinized, a creature thoroughly blessed by grace, "a quickened ark of God," a living "consecrated temple." Such a pneumatophoric person radically differs from the Godman, for it is a creature, but it differs just as much from a creature in its creatureliness, for it has been elevated and made a partaker of divine life. In this pneumatophoricity God's image in the human is likewise realized.13 Hence it is incumbent on us to consider that the human essence of the Mother of God in heaven together with the Godman Jesus displays the full image of humankind. The Icon of the Mother of God with Child, the Logos and the creature receiving Him, filled with the Holy Spirit, in unity and its indivisibility, is the full image of humankind. The Godman and the Pneumatophore, the Son and the Mother, displaying the revelation of the Father through the Second and Third Hypostases, also display the fullness of the Divine image in humankind or, to put it another way, of the human image in God.

Sergius Bulgakov
The Burning Bush
Ch. IV. The Glorification of the Mother of God

Full penetration of human nature by divine

… when applied to the personality of the Mother of God and in her relation to the Holy Spirit the idea of adoption, of her full and complete sanctification, can have its lawful application, foreign to Christological heresy. The blessing with grace or divinization of the human by the action of the Holy Spirit can be imagined generally as a type of adoption, of the more or less full penetration of human nature by divine, their living conjunction. It has different degrees, but "she who is more honourable than the cherubim" has this unity with the Holy Spirit in a degree exceeding all measure, wherefore she is also the Pneumatophore in the proper sense.

Sergius Bulgakov
The Burning Bush
Ch. IV. The Glorification of the Mother of God

Communication of divine life to the creature

At the Annunciation Mary became the Pneumatophore.

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the human manifests itself when the human hypostasis chosen from all generations, the Virgin Mary, becomes transparent for the Holy Spirit. By remaining a creaturely, human hypostasis in and of itself, it acquires a dyadic life, human and divine, i.e., it is completely divinized, which is why in its own hypostatic being it is the living creaturely revelation of the Holy Spirit.

The influence of the Holy Spirit on humankind and the world is different; in no way is it the hypostatic hominization of the Logos. It consists in divinization, in the communication of divine life to the creature. This divinization occurs to the extent of the creature's ability to accommodate it. In the Virgin Mary a special, singular and exclusive instance of the relationship of the Holy Spirit with a creature, was manifested, namely, His dwelling in her as in His temple, as in a body. At the Annunciation Mary became the Pneumatophore. The Holy Spirit dwelled in her in that sense which is proper to Him, distinct from the hypostatic hominization of the Logos, the Second Hypostasis. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the human does not consist in the replacement of the human hypostasis by His Hypostasis, as occurred in Christ where the one divine hypostasis reunited two natures, divine and human. It manifests itself when the human hypostasis chosen from all generations becomes transparent for the Holy Spirit. By remaining a creaturely, human hypostasis in and of itself, it acquires a dyadic life, human and divine, i.e., it is completely divinized, which is why in its own hypostatic being it is the living creaturely revelation of the Holy Spirit. Although not itself the hypostasis of the Holy Spirit, this pneumatophoric hypostasis is His hypostatic revelation in the measure and in the sense possible for the Third Hypostasis. In the divine incarnation of the Logos the single divine hypostasis reunites two natures, divine and human, and has in them the dyadic life of the Godman, a "complex" (according to the expression of St John of Damascus) nature. In the Holy Spirit's visiting of the Mother of God a single all-human hypostasis has the dyadic life of divinized, pneumatophoric human nature in which the elements of human nature are illuminated by divine grace. A difference of natures appropriate to the difference of hypostases is established. For the divine hypostasis of the Logos divine nature is His proper nature, and the human nature is appropriated and assumed by Him from Mary "for our sake and on account of our salvation"; for the human hypostasis of Mary her proper nature is human nature, and divine life is communicated to her by the grace of divinization, in keeping with the visitation of the Holy Spirit. Therefore in no manner can the Mother of God be venerated as the Godman. But her pneumatophoricity, which makes her an animate temple of God and the Mother of God, elevates her higher than human nature and higher even than any creaturely nature. Mary the pneumatophoric1) human is more exalted than any creature and thus "every creature, the angelic choir and the human race, rejoices" on account of the Graced One. This is the Pneumatophore: though human by nature she is already higher than humankind. Although she is not the Godman, who is only One, Jesus, yet with respect to the Godman she stands in the necessary, essential and indissoluble relation of motherhood, precisely in that relation which has its foundation in the mutual relation of the Second and Third Hypostases. On the strength of this essential relation the Godman, God's Son incarnate, sits at the right hand of the Father in the heavens, but beside Him at His right hand is His glorified Mother, the abode of the Holy Spirit, not Godman, but God-bearer, Pneumatophore, in truth "the real" Theotokos.


1) We encounter such an expression applied to the Divine Mother in bishop Ignaty Brianchaninov, «Exposition of the Doctrine of the Orthodox Church concerning the Mother of God. Works», 3rd ed., vol. 4, "she became, the Pneumatophoric, divine Virgin."
 

Thus, the descent of the Holy Spirit on Mary caused her to become the Mother of God already in this very descending. Elizabeth expressed this in prophetic illumination, saying "and how does it happen to me that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Lk 1:43). Mary became "in truth the Theotokos" not because she was physically carrying in the womb for a while; this happened because she was joined in her spirit with the Holy Spirit and thus became the Mother of God. Divine Motherhood was the expression that her own life "of the servant of the Lord" was suffused with the Holy Spirit, as though it was identified with Him, and thus she made her own that relation essential to the Logos which is proper to the Third Hypostasis. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father to the Son dia ton huion — on account of the Son, onto the Son, for the Son. He embraces, has in Himself and reveals to the Father the Begotten of the Father. This mystery of divine generation is imprinted in the image "of the truly Theotokos."

Sergius Bulgakov
The Burning Bush
Ch. IV. The Glorification of the Mother of God

The receptacle of divine motherhood

By receiving the Holy Spirit, Mary was made into the receptacle of divine motherhood.

By receiving the Holy Spirit, Mary was made into the receptacle of divine motherhood. She was made Mother of God spiritually, and in virtue of this she conceived in her womb a Son, Emmanuel. She conceived Him in the Holy Spirit, Who has Him in Himself, while resting on Him, and precisely for this reason she became in truth the Theotokos. Here and only here is the answer to Nestorius and simultaneously the repudiation of his blasphemy: by what means could Mary, a human being, give birth to the Godman and not merely to a human being, in whom consequently the Logos had to dwell? By what means is Mary in truth the Theotokos? As a human being, this would not be possible for Mary, but as Pneumatophore, i.e., already more than a human, namely as the hypostatic shrine of the Holy Spirit, not only is it possible but natural. It is necessary to accept what constitutes the very hypostatic nature, the property of the Third Hypostasis: to proceed from the Father to the Son, to possess the Son for the Father, not generating Him but quickening Him. And thus Mary, in receiving the Holy Spirit — not only His gifts, or power, but the very Holy Spirit — becomes the Mother of God. That is the direct and exact sense of the words of the Archangel: "hence, dio" (Lk 1:35), i.e., in virtue of the visitation of the Holy Spirit, the holy fruit will be none other than the Son of God, whom the Holy Spirit has hypostatically.

Although the Holy Spirit in the pre-eternal order does not beget but only has the already begotten, in the temporal order the Mother gives birth by His power. She conceives the Pre-Eternal Begotten One. Pre-eternally only the Father begets, which is why fatherhood is a synonym for generation, and in pre-eternal generation there is no place for motherhood.22 Christ, as the Son of God, begotten of the Father, in His generation is without a mother, but as the Son of Man He does not know a father, and has only a Mother. In this way in the Godman, sonship in His Divinity is addressed only to the Father, in his humanity only to His Mother. And for this sonship fatherhood proves to be essential, independent of motherhood, and motherhood, independent of fatherhood. At the same time both of these determinations are identical, they coincide with and are in accordance with what was said above. The Holy Spirit does not beget, but only has the already Begotten One, but for this reason precisely the visitation of the Holy Spirit brings generative power to the Pneumatophore, and therefore also generation — without father or without a husband. If there were no pre-eternal motherless begetting from the Father, there would also be no husbandless generation from the Mother. The Holy Spirit is the one who connects both generations in His relation to the Son, whom He pre-eternally carries as the Only Begotten of the Father and in virtue of this communicates the power of generation to His Mother. Thus the seedless conception is accomplished by the visitation of the Holy Spirit.


22) In sacred hymnody the Son of God is called the one who is begotten by the Father without a mother, and of course we do not think that it departs here from the norms of church doctrine. The begetting of the Son is accomplished by the Father; the Third Hypostasis, who already presupposes the Begotten One, does not participate in this. But in begetting, the Father proceeds towards the Begotten in the Holy Spirit, maternally embraces Him and quickens Him. Thus not only sonship is from the Father but also motherhood which, being unparticipatory in the generating, still takes part in the birthing process already accomplished, and pre-eternally contains it.

Sergius Bulgakov
The Burning Bush
Ch. IV. The Glorification of the Mother of God

The Comforter shows namely life in Christ

The Comforter will give power to experience Christ tangibly.

The Comforter will show namely life in Christ, the living divine incarnation for all creation.

The Holy Trinity is revealed to the world in the Son and the Holy Spirit. Besides, these revelations, multipartite and multiform, at first anticipatory and imperfect, afterwards become complete in the Godman in Whom the fullness of Divinity abides bodily, and in the Mother of God, who is the personal elect vessel of the Holy Spirit, the Pneumatophore.

The outpouring of gifts of the Holy Spirit, Pentecost, is in the well-known sense the consequence of the Divine incarnation of the Second Hypostasis. In addition to Himself, Christ offers to humanity, "he will send" and "he will pray the Father" concerning the sending of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, Who will give power to experience Christ tangibly, to show the living divine incarnation for all creation. The Comforter will show namely life in Christ, not a new content of revelation, but its new vital perception.

Sergius Bulgakov
The Burning Bush
Ch. IV. The Glorification of the Mother of God

Along with the Holy Spirit she received the Logos

In the order of the divine economy of our salvation the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Virgin Mary precedes the hominization of the Second Hypostasis and brings it with itself.

In the same manner in the order of internal consistency the theophany of Christ precedes and conditions Pentecost as the theophany of the Holy Spirit. But in the order of the divine economy of our salvation the reverse occurs: the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Virgin Mary precedes the hominization of the Second Hypostasis and brings it with itself. The question is, of course, not chronological but ontological consecutiveness. Chronologically it is inseparable; in that sacred incomprehensible and miraculous moment before which the cherubim and seraphim tremble, covering their faces, when the Virgin said, "behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to your word," the descent of the Holy Spirit was at the same time the seedless conception. The Pneumatophore became the Mother of God; along with the Holy Spirit she received the Logos as a Son being generated. In that event was concluded the foundation for both the divine incarnation of the Word and the Pentecost of the Holy Spirit, for the fulfilment of the divine plan: "today the captain of our salvation and the manifestation of the mystery from the ages: The Son of God is the Son of the Virgin" (Troparion of the Annunciation).

Sergius Bulgakov
The Burning Bush
Ch. IV. The Glorification of the Mother of God

Today is the beginning of our salvation,
the revelation of the eternal mystery!
The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin
as Gabriel announces the coming of Grace.
Together with him let us cry to the Theotokos!
Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with you.

Troparion of the Annunciation
to the Most Holy Theotokos (Tone 4)

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