“Blessed are you among women” (Luke 1:28)
In this blessed season of the fast of the Holy Nativity we spend the Coptic month of Kiahk in praises and in watchfulness preparing for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Raise, O you sons of lights so we may praise the Lord of powers.”
Praise is an important part of the life of the Church. It is a cooperative function between the Church of Christ on earth and the Church of Christ in heaven. Praise is the work of the angels and saints, and in praising God, we participate with them. “Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts” (Psalm 148:2), and “Praise God in all His saints” (Psalm 150:1).
The Coptic month of Kiahk is called the Marian month. The Coptic Orthodox Church honors the Holy Theotokos Saint Mary many times throughout the year. The Coptic month of Kiahk is one such time in which the Church venerates Saint Mary in the context of commemorating our Lord Jesus Christ’s incarnation and glorious birth.
The reason for this honor is evident in what one may call the “theme” hymn of the Kiahk rite (from the gospel response hymn chanted during the first two weeks of the month): “We give unto you greeting, with Gabriel the angel saying, ‘Hail to you O full of grace, the Lord is with you.’ Wherefore we glorify you as the Mother of God…”
Kiahk month reminds us why the Lord chose Saint Mary to be His mother. Saint Mary’s way of life, purity of heart, and humility allowed her to become the mother of our Savior.
She is our mother and lady; she is the pride of humanity. She is St. Mary, the pure virgin full of grace, whose virginity is perpetual; she is the true vine, the mother of mercy and salvation, the able, compassionate, and mother of Light.
Saint Mary is the greatest woman who ever lived. “Blessed are you among women” (Luke 1:28). She is the first person in all of history to receive and accept Christ as her Savior. She found favor in the sight of God (Luke 1:30). She gave her life to Him in prayer and devotion, she sought Him with all her heart. Saint Mary is our model for the Christian Life, a model of obedience, a model of purity and holiness. We remember this every time we chant “Shere Ne Maria” (“Hail to You Mary, the beautiful dove, who bore for us God the word”).
She is the Queen. She is more honored than the cherubim and more glorious than the seraphim. Saint Mary is the Mother of God, Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit first confessed this saying, “But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me” (Luke 1:42).
Let us spend this season with a spirit of prayer and praises to receive the Word of God into our hearts and to present Him to the whole world as the blessed Theotokos Saint Mary did in the mystery of the Incarnation.