Does God Who is full and perfect need to be blessed, glorified, or magnified? Does His Holy Name need additional holiness? We say “Hallowed be Thy Name”, “we bless Thee” or “we glorify Thee?” How could St. Mary say, “My soul magnifies the Lord?”
What does it mean when we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Hallowed be Thy Name” or in the Liturgy “we bless You” or “we glorify You?” Also, how could St. Mary say, “My soul magnifies the Lord?” Does God Who is full and perfect need to be blessed, glorified, or magnified? Does His Holy Name need additional holiness?
St. Cyril of Alexandria, in his comment on “Hallowed be Thy Name,” affirmed that it is absolutely absurd to think that when we pray, “Hallowed be Thy Name,” we pray that additional holiness may accrue unto the all-holy God. He wondered, “If God be full and in every respect perfect in and by Himself, and the Giver of holiness to the creation out of His own holiness; what addition can He receive?” St. Cyril then explained the meaning of the prayer “Hallowed be Thy Name,” saying, “The prayer is, therefore, ‘May Thy Name be kept holy in us, in our minds and wills’; for this is the significance of the word ‘Hallowed be Thy Name’. For just as one who suffers from disease in his eyes and sees with difficulty and prays, saying ‘O Lord of all, grant that the light of the sun’s radiance may illuminate me also.’ He does not make his supplication on the behalf of the sun but on the contrary, upon his own.” So also if a man says ‘Our Father Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name,’ he is not requesting any addition to be made to God’s holiness, but rather asks that he may himself possess such a mind and faith so as to feel that His Name is honorable and holy.
St. Cyril added that, when we ask these things, we not only ask for ourselves alone, but rather to intercede for all the dwellers upon earth. For those who already have believed, that their faith may be established and that they may be able to practice the glories of the more excellent life. For those who as yet are not believers, that they may be called and their eyes be opened.
The Scholar Origen, in his comment on St. Mary’s praise, “My soul magnifies the Lord,” wrote, “We ask how a soul can magnify the Lord. The Lord can undergo neither increase nor loss. He is what He is. Thus, why does St. Mary now say, “My soul magnifies the Lord?”…My soul is not directly an image of God. It was created as the image of the Image that already existed…Each one of us shapes his soul into the image of Christ and makes either a large or a small image of Him. The image is either dingy and dirty or it is clean and bright and corresponds to the form of the Original. Therefore, when I make the image of the Image – that is my soul –large and magnify it by work, thought and speech, then the Lord Himself is magnified in my soul, because it is an image of Him. Just as the Lord is thus magnified in our image of Him, so too, if we are sinners, He diminishes and decreases. But surely the Lord is not diminished, nor does He decrease. Rather,we create other images in ourselves instead of the Savior’s Image. Instead of being the image of the Word, or of Wisdom, justice and the rest of the virtues, we assume the form of the devil.”
In summary, God is what He is. He does not increase or decrease. He is in every respect perfect in and by Himself, and He is the Giver of holiness to all creation. In our prayer we pray that God be blessed, glorified, and magnified, and that His name be hallowed in us and in all people, believers and nonbelievers alike. We pray that our souls may be shaped in the image of Christ.