The Golden Censer:

The golden censer used by Aaron, the high priest (Heb9:4), represents St. Mary who carried the Fire of Divinity in her womb without being burnt. St. Cyril the Great declared that the burning coal is a unity of both coal and fire.  This coal burns with fire in a unity without separation and without conversion to each other. The coal presents the unity between the divine and human nature within Christ without any separation between the two natures after the unity, and without conversion from one nature to the other. The pure gold, at the same time, symbolizes the purity of St. Mary.   

 

In the theotokia, we praise her name and sing, “You are the censer made of pure gold, carrying the blessed and live coal that is taken from the altar to purge the sins and take away the iniquities. God the Word who took flesh from you offered Himself as incense to God His father”.   

 

From the censer, the incense was offered before the Holies.  St. Mary carried God the invisible in her womb; who offered Himself as an acceptable sacrifice as an aromatic incense. Therefore the theotokia says, “Wherefore truly I do not err whenever I call you the golden censer. For therein is offered the choicest incense before the Holies. You are too, O Mary, have carried in your womb, the invisible Word of the Father, He who offered Himself as an acceptable sacrifice, upon the cross, for the salvation of our race”.  

 

Usually, the censer is linked to prayers and the altar of incense. So it represents St. Mary because she was characterized with the life of prayer. Thus, she declares to us that the way to purity is through prayer and prayer associated with the altar and the Sacrifice.

 

The flower of incense:

It refers to the aromatic flavor of her purity which spreads through all generations; as we say in the theotokia, “They likened the flower of incense to Mary the Queen, and the chosen incense to her virginity”. It says to St. Mary, “You are called, O Virgin Mary, the holy Flower of the incense, which came out and blossomed from the roots of the patriarchs and the prophets”, “You are the flower of incense that has blossomed from the root of Jesse”.

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Because of all this, it is lawful for us to glorify St. Mary with praises and glorification hymns; for she is the pride of our race and the intercessor of our salvation. She is elevated over all the heavenly and earthly, and was worthy to be the mother of God. Let us praise her saying, “Your glory, O Mary, is higher than the heaven. You are more honored than the earth and its inhabitants. For you are, truly, the real path leading up to the heavens. You are clothed with joy and gladness, and girdled with power, O daughter of Zion. O who was clothed with the garments of the heavenly, so that you covered Adam with the garments of grace”.