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October 28, 2021

Homily One on the Holy Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos (St. Luke of Simferopol)

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

Lutherans, Protestants and all other heretics do not honor the Most Holy Virgin Mary. They consider her only a pious woman and certainly do not pray to her. How do we Orthodox Christians see the earthly Mother of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, who served in the great mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God? Are we reprehensible for calling her "more honorable than the Cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim"?  For addressing our fervent prayers to her, who is "the salvation of the Christian race"?

But was she not a living immaculate temple of the Savior, a precious palace and a Virgin? Did not the Holy Spirit come to her at the moment of the seedless conception of the Son of God and did He not stay with her for the rest of her life?

And was not the power of the Spirit so strong that it was never seen again like this even in the greatest saints?

The abundant grace of the Holy Spirit, which filled the heart of the Panagia, is poured out on all who loved her Son and God with eternal love. It is not difficult to understand. We know from experience that pure and divine love which flows from our hearts to our relatives.

In the morning prayer to the Panagia we say: "I praise your grace, Lady, I beg you, enlighten my mind with your grace." Of course the only source of grace is the Triune God.

The Panagia gives us not her own grace but the excess of grace which she receives from the Holy Spirit. But this surplus is so large that it is enough for all Christians.

You are well aware that many martyrs of Christ, the holy hierarchs and saints, especially Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, visited and still visit those who, in faith, call them through their prayers.

But all these saints visit the chosen people alone, without having anyone to accompany them.

And the Most Holy Theotokos often visited her chosen ones and loved ones, of whom the closest to our time are Saints Sergius of Radonez and Seraphim of Sarov.

However never alone but accompanied by the apostles of Christ, and most often by Peter and John.

Today we celebrate the Holy Protection of the Panagia. Blessed Andrew and his disciple Epiphanios saw the Panagia walking in the air, accompanied by the Angels, the Apostles and the Saints.

The Panagia went down, entered the sanctuary and knelt before the Holy Altar. Then she turned her gaze to the people and spread her cloak on him, which shone with a heavenly light.

Does not this miracle in the temple of the Blachernae testify that God Himself and the Panagia justify us who call the Most Holy Virgin Mary "more honorable than the Cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim"?

The entourage of kings and lords consists of persons inferior to themselves. Among those who accompanied the Panagia in the temple of the Blachernae were the Angels, the Archangels, the Apostles and the glorious Saints.

And what about her cloak that shone like lightning, which she spread to the people, who prayed on their knees in the temple of the Blachernae? Do not these lightnings show the overflow of the grace of the Holy Spirit pouring out of her heart?

Of course, the Panagia does not spread her protection indiscriminately to everyone, but only to the humble, to the compunctionate and to those who fear the Word of God.

Let us also be humble and not have a great idea of ourselves, in order to be worthy to always be under the protection of the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary.

Through Her holy intercessions may the Merciful God forgive us the multitude of our sins and our injustices and have mercy on us. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.