Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
A mark of the Orthodox Faith is our veneration of the Mother of God. For those Just coming to Orthodoxy, this at first seems strange, until we consider her place in the plan of salvation. It is through her willingness to humbly submit to God’s will that our Savior was born into the world. She is indispensable, therefore, to His incarnation. She herself prophesied in her song in the Gospel of St. Luke that all generations would call her “Blessed.”
We are among those countless generations who have looked to her example and call upon her intercessions on our behalf. The efficacy of her intercessions, as well as that of all the Saints, is part of the fabric of our Faith. Among the many instances of her help for us, we remember especially her protection of the Christian people in Constantinople from invasion. The feast commemorating this event we call the Protection of the Mother of God, and it occurs on the 14th of October (the 1st on our Church calendar).
The Lord shows how He is “wondrous in His saints” through His mysterious use of icons, both as focus for our prayer and as emblems of His mercy. We remember the many miraculous icons of the Mother of God that adorn the history of the Church. These wonders persist into our own time. We have witnessed the myrrh streaming from the wonder-working Iveron Mother of God. Even though the original was lost coincidentally with the martyr’s end of her then-custodian, Joseph, the wonder continues resurgent in the myrrh-streaming copy from Hawaii, kept by Reader Nektary, that we were able to pray before and obtain some of the myrrh. We have witnessed the healing that God has granted to those who seek her help before these icon and, of course, the Kursk-Root Icon of the Sign, the Protectress of the Russian diaspora. Copies of these and many others adorn the walls of our little mission. There is a Russian traditional icon that shows all the saints of the year, rank on rank in the body of the icon, and the margin contains many wonder-working icons of the Mother of God. Just as with all the saints, however many can be painted into the icon, it is still only a representative number.
Again and again, through her icons, the Most Holy Mother of God acts in our lives as an ambassador of her beloved Son, our incarnate God and Savior. He who is meek and lowly in heart sends us His most pure Mother, of all God’s human creatures the one humble enough to accept Him without pause or off-putting question. This remains a source of amazement for us as it has been for Christ’s followers since she willingly acted according to His will. She has come to us again in the icon that has been with us just now, the myrrh-streaming “Softener of Evil Hearts.” The very idea spawned in our mind at the sound: the dissolution of evil within, of the influence of our enemy, the devil, father of all evil! We ask in the Lord’s Prayer for Him to deliver us from evil. In His Mother’s intercessions, as shown in this icon, is such deliverance. The Lord answers our prayer through the wonders of all the saints helping us, but no more so than through her who gave Him birth.
We can entrust ourselves to her care and protection because we have entrusted ourselves to His care. “Cast all your care upon Him, for He careth for you,” says the Holy Apostle Peter. This month we remember her Holy Protection in the feast of that name. Dear Brothers and Sisters in the parish, in the faith, in the family of God, let us cling to that which we have been given through her; let us gather to pray with and through her to her beloved Son, our Savior. As we struggle for our “daily bread,” we should also remember that our struggle is blessed by our Lord in His prayer to the Heavenly Father, and, accordingly, by the protection and intercession of His most pure Mother.