Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Divinely Exquisite Fifteenth of August


By Monk Moses the Athonite

The Orthodox Church ascribes especial great honor to the person of the Panagia. This honor is shown in the close relationship of the Most-Holy Theotokos with mankind. The Panagia is the greatest and best offering of humanity to Divinity.

The existence of the Panagia is all-immaculate, all-undefiled, all-revered, all-most-pure. Many things have been written and said about her, from which surely one will fall into reiteration. But this year's celebration makes us remember again her many and rich benefactions. A woman by her curiosity and disobedience brought us out of the Paradise of Eden. Another woman, the second Eve, the Panagia, by her cheerful obedience, her genuine humility and her beautiful modesty reunited us with God. This fact is unsettling.

Death, every death, causes sorrow, but the death of the Theotokos, her dormition and translocation, are sources of great joy. Her feast has a character full of delight. There is no sadness, tears or mourning, but, according to our beautiful hymnology, "all the earth is exhilarated". According to the teaching of our Church, the Mother of God and humanity is near to God and the people who invoke her. Countless are her interventions in the many difficulties of life.

Monasteries, churches, shrines, her miraculous icons and thousands of tributes testify to her rich grace. Most people have something they ascribe to her intercession, her protection, her visitation and her gifts. Indeed "by your dormition, Theotokos, you did not forsake the world". Perhaps some do not invoke her. It is not permitted however to speak ill of her. To speak ill of the divine is not only irreverent, but cowardly, rude and heartily insensitive.

Conversely the faithful and monks love her and especially revere her. Their love sometimes is on the verge of worship. This is why we give her eulogies, hymns, icons, churches and countless grace-filled names: Paramythia, Glykophilousa, Eleimonitria, the Joy of All Who Sorrow, Guardian, Physician, Mediator, Intercessor, and especially Mother.

In the midst of the summer heat, and the confusion and turmoil of our times, comes the Pascha of the Mother of God to cool us, to calm us, to bring us to our senses, to cheer us up. In the Small Paraklesis the faithful chant together:

"Pure one, fill my heart with a merriment, a happiness; bestow on me your spotless joy, for you have given birth to Him Who is the cause of joy."

The Greek August 15th is divinely exquisite. Thousands of messages are sent to heaven for a little solace in the shallow, monotonous and mundane life of the world. From the depths of human existence comes one innermost invocation:

"My miserable soul is troubled by the rising storms of afflictions and woes; and clouds of misfortunes overcome me, bringing darkness to my heart, Maiden. But since you are the Mother of the Divine and Eternal Light, remove this far from me, inspired by your divine intercession." (Great Paraklesis)

This is why our great Mother is always praying. To ward off from us the dark clouds, far away. It is enough for us to want this and to do something about it.

Source: From the book ΕΟΡΤΙΑ ΓΡΑΜΜΑΤΑ ΑΠΟ ΤΟ ΑΓΙΟΝ ΟΡΟΣ (Festal Letters From the Holy Mountain). Translation by John Sanidopoulos.

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