Sermon on the Feast of the Protection of the Most-Holy Mother of God
Archpriest Victor Ilyenko
Once again we gather on the feast day of the Protection of the Most-Holy Mother of God; once again we hear the Gospel reading so familiar that we know it by heart on the meeting of the two rejoicing mothers: Maria and Elizabeth. Once again we exclaim to the Most-Pure: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” as we open our mouths and sing in rejoicing to Her wonders.
This is a miracle of the mercy of God, which is so easily revealed to our hearts in the song of the Theotokos, that we must never be burdened by these frequent holidays of the Most-Pure Mother, but after each one passes, we must eagerly look forward to the following one, and when it arrives, it bears witness to our great love for Her, “more honorable than the Cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim.”
Today’s holiday has special characteristics especially dear to us. The Most-Pure covered a city with Her veil during a crisis, when its populace had no hope but in the Queen of Heaven; and she provided Her intercession. From this remote historic event, confidence entered the soul of the Christian that when there is no intercessor, where there is no consolation and no rejoicing, when bitter thought enters ones mind, notions of solitude, abandonment and being unneeded by anyone, it is worth remembering that we have a kind, merciful and empathetic Mother who beholds our needs, hears our sighs and is always ready to help us, support us, console us; it is worth remembering Her, the Most-Pure and Most-Blessed, and turn to her with all our hearts and weep before Her, to appeal to Her on behalf of our fates, and then a miracle occurs: our sorrow passes, and a quiet, endearing bliss and reconciliation with the Will of God comes to us and enters our souls.
These spiritual experiences—both sorrows and subsequent joys—are factual, real, authentic. We know whence sorrow comes, what creates it; we must also know exactly where joy comes from, so that we understand that it is not simply a chance occurrence stemming from changes in our spiritual consciousness.
The Church helps us discern this within our souls, to recognized the source of our joy. Today She tells us that “the Virgin is present in church today and together with the host of saints invisibly prays for us to God.”
Is it possible to be sad and sorrowful in a place that the Queen of Heaven covers with Her prayerful shawl? Where the people turn to Her in prayer? Can we doubt Her invisible presence, can we dismiss the place where two weeks ago we openly sensed Her blessed presence and the Divine powers in a memorial church, when the Most-Pure Queen through Her miracle-working icon entered our souls? That was a spiritual reality! Now it is once again repeated, and its effect depends entirely on us. If we purify our thoughts, allow no temporal passions to possess us, then the joy of Christ, through the prayers of His Most-Pure Mother, will once again embrace us and be the source of continuing spiritual consolations.