We will not, here, comment on the mistranslation and misuse of Scripture by which some heterodox try to claim that the Virgin Mary was a virgin only "up to the time" of the Virgin Birth and not after, or by which they rather naïvely understand the children of St. Joseph (the Virgin Mary’s step-children) and their cousins to be the literal "brothers and sisters" of Christ. The Fathers of the Church have written at length on these matters. Suffice it to say that ancient Christian tradition supported the idea that the Mother of God was ever-virgin, just as Church Fathers and Councils condemned heretics in the early Church who, like their counterparts today, questioned the spiritual eminence of the Theotokos.
Finally, we Orthodox do not "worship" the Virgin Mary. We "venerate" her and show her great honor. Nor have we ever, like the Latins, developed the idea that the Theotokos was born without sin (the Roman Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception) or that she is a co-redemptor with Christ (the cult of the Redemtrix in the Latin Church). The consensus of the Church Fathers rejects such ideas, and the Orthodox Church adheres to that consensus. However, we do believe that the Virgin Mary is an image, as St. Maximos the Confessor says, of the Christian goal of becoming Christ-like, of theosis. Just as the Theotokos gave birth to Christ in a bodily way, so we must, St. Maximos tells us, give birth to Christ in an unbodily or spiritual way. In so doing, we imitate her practical spiritual life, including the purity and humility by which she formed her free will into perfect obedience to the Will of God. Of this practical image of the Virgin Mary, one of our readers, Archdeacon Basil Kuretich, D.D., has written some words that bear repeating here. They give us a clear picture of the importance of the model which she presents for every Orthodox believer:
*Although they may be familiar with monasticism in the Latin Church, most Americans do not know that monastic brotherhoods and sisterhoods survived in the Lutheran and Reformed movements, despite the generally polemical attitude towards the monastic estate that marked the Protestant Reformation. Over the years they have decreased in number or have been absorbed into Roman Catholicism, as is the case in Sweden, where most of the Lutheran monastic houses have succumbed to the widespread proselytizing of German Jesuit missionaries in that country.