Protection of our most holy Lady

Today, October 1, is the feast day of the Protection of our most holy Lady and the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary: The Pokrova.

The Feast of the Protection commemorates the appearance of the most holy Theotokos in the Church of Blachernae in Constantinople in the tenth century, as recorded in the life of Saint Andrew the Fool for Christ’s sake. While the multitudes of the faithful were gathered in Church, Our venerable Epiphanius, the friend of Saint Andrew, through the Saint’s prayers, beheld the Virgin Mary above the faithful and spreading out her veil over them, signifying her unceasing protection of all Christians. Because of this we keep a yearly feast of gratitude, imploring our Lady never to cease sheltering us in her mighty prayers.

The Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos

Today, 8th September, we celebrate the feast of the Nativity of Mary, Our Blessed Mother!

“What then should we offer to the Mother of the Word other than an oration? Let the whole of creation make festival and sing of the most holy birth-giving of the holy Anna. For she bore for the world an inviolable treasury of blessings.” (St John Damascene, On the Nativity of Mary)

The Epistle today is from Philippians, and it is about Christ, “Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name” (Philippians 2:7-9).

Mary’s Birthday commemorated today

Today is the first of the great feasts of the Church (liturgical) year with the commemoration of the birthday of our Most Holy Lady, The Theotokos and ever-virgin, Mary.

As you know, every feast has a history and a meaning for us. Today’s feast is pointing our attention less to the birth of Mary, as very important as it is, to the Nativity of Our Lord, the Incarnation. All liturgical feasts point to Our Savior. Let’s consider the feast in these terms:

“Like most feasts of the Virgin, this one began as a feast of dedication of a church built to honor Joachim and Anna. It was located near Jerusalem at a site held by tradition to be the birthplace of their daughter.

The Dormition Fast

From August 1 to August 14, the Byzantine Churches prepare for the feast of the Dormition (Assumption) of the Holy Theotokos with a period of prayer and fasting.

Presentation of the Theotokos into the Temple

“And so the child of God then enters [and] stands among the horns [of the altar], after both her begetters had given thanks and the priest was about to give a blessing. Again her parents cry to the priest, ‘Receive the one who will receive the immaterial and incomprehensible fire; receive the one who ill be designated as the receptacle of the Son and Word of the Father and only God; take the one who destroyed the reproach of our childlessness and sterility; usher into the sanctuary the one who will introduce us into our ancient inheritance of paradise; take charge of the one who, in her own birthgiving, will take charge of our own cowardice that is bringing in the power of death and the tyranny of Hades; … consecrate to God the one who has consecrated us, as a divinely perfected [being] for the expectation of [our] hopes.”

Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple

Tomorrow, November 21, is a holy day. The Divine Liturgy will be served at 9:00 a.m. in both English and Ukrainian.

Today is the prelude of the benevolence of God and the herald of the salvation of mankind. For the Virgin openly appears in the temple of God, and foretells Christ to all: Let us also with full voice exclaim to her: Rejoice, fulfillment of the Creator’s plan!

Dormition 2020

“When we hear someone speak about the Ark of the Covenant from the Old Testament, oftentimes we think of modern depictions, of movies, or books, and especially the biblical accounts that present us with a fearful, awesome, and even wrathful picture. We recall that about the wooden box, which was covered with pure gold, God spoke to Moses from the mercy seat in between two cherubim. … How then might we, who are grass and made of earthen clay, begin to discourse and contemplate the living Ark of God, the Most-holy Theotokos, who was the fulfillment and the awesome reality of which the Ark of the Old Testament was merely a shadow? … This present awesome and glorious mystery is something which is not a subject for speculation, for human logic, or for vain tampering. It is a tremendous mystery that is hidden and only revealed when it is humbly received from within the light of the depths of the Church’s tradition. This feast is immensely joyful and life-giving for those who with child-like faith and without argument seek to enter into its festivities. … Those who have prepared themselves with fasting and prayer and by being present at today’s festivities, the tomb of the Mother of God is joy; it is life and it is a light-covered mountain for our spiritual ascent today.