Russian Orthodox Church Protection of Mother of God
Russian Orthodox Church • Patriarchial Parishes in Canada

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The Protection of Our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary

The feast of the Protection of the Mother of God is a feast very warm and dear to us, because in it is expressed the special closeness to us of the Most Pure Virgin. She spreads her veil over all those who pray, regardless of how righteous or pious we are, if only we turn to her with our whole heart.

Generally, the meaning of the feast of the Protection is impossible to explain rationally or reasonably, but is experienced and felt by the heart as the relationship of a caring, loving mother with her own children. A mother gets up at night to check on her child, and if the child is sick, then the mama doesn’t pity herself and will not rest until she has taken every measure that her child might recover. And as children open to their mothers their childish sorrows, feelings and desires, so we can reveal to the Most Pure Virgin all our troubles and to her alone we can turn then when we have no one else to turn to. And she will cover us. Her veil is prayerful care for us, it is the grace of God given to the Holy Virgin as to the very closest to God, and by this grace she is ready to protect us always.

Russia has always honored the saints, especially those dear to the common people: Nicholas the Wonderworker, Sergius of Radonezh, Seraphim of Sarov, Matrona of Moscow. But dearest of all is the Mother of God. In Russia there was always informal, heartfelt veneration, like as to your birth mother, who you can turn to with any trouble, and Russia has always been under the veil of the Mother of God. This is why in every Orthodox home in Russia amongst the icons there is a special place dedicated to the image of the Mother of God.

Priest Valery Dukhanin

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THE SPIRITUAL EXALTATION OF THE CROSS. From: Letters on the Spiritual Life

The Exaltation of the Lord’s Cross has arrived. Then the Cross was erected on a high place, so that the people could see it and render honor to it. Now, the cross is raised in the churches and monasteries. But this is all external. There is a spiritual exaltation of the cross in the heart. It happens when one firmly resolves to crucify himself, or to mortify his passions—something so essential in Christians that, according to the Apostle, they only are Christ’s who have crucified their flesh with its passions and lusts (cf. Gal. 5:24). Having raised this cross in themselves, Christians hold it exalted all their lives. Let every Christian soul ask himself if this is how it is, and let him hearken to the answer that his conscience gives him in his heart. Oh, may we not hear, “You only please your flesh in the passions; your cross is not exalted—it is thrown into the pit of the passions, and is rotting there in negligence and contempt!”

When the Lord was taken down from the Cross, the Cross remained on Golgotha, and then it was thrown into the pit that was in that place, where this instrument of execution was usually thrown, together with other refuse. Soon Jerusalem was razed and all of its edifices were leveled to the ground. The pit containing the Cross of Christ was also filled over. When the pagans rebuilt the city (the Jews were forbidden to come near the place where it was), it happened that on the place where the Cross of Christ was hidden, they placed an idol of Venus, the pagan Goddess of fornication and all manner of lusts. This is what the enemy suggested to them. This is how it is with our inner cross. When the enemy destroys the spiritual order in the soul, this is our mental Jerusalem, and then the spiritual cross is thrown down from the Golgotha of the heart and is covered over with the garbage of the affections and lusts. Lustful self-pleasure then rises like a tower over all our inner peace, and everything in us bows down to it and fulfills its commands until grace shines upon us, inspiring us to cast down the idol and lift up the cross of self-crucifixion.

St. Theophan the Recluse



Icon of the Dormition, St. Catherine’s Monastery on Mt. Sinai

Today the Holy Church solemnly glorifies the honorable Dormition or translation of the Mother of God from earth to heaven. A wonderful translation – she died without serious illness, peacefully. Her soul is taken up in the divine hands of Her Son and carried up into the heavenly abode, accompanied by the sweet singing of angels. And then, her most pure body is transferred by the apostles to Gethsemane where it is honorably buried, and on the third day it is resurrected and taken up to heaven. You see this on the icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos. On it is represented the life-bearing body of the Theotokos laying on a bier, surrounded by the apostles and hierarchs, and in the center of the icon the Lord holding in His hands the most pure soul of the Theotokos. The translation of the Mother of God is a paradigm of the translation in general of the souls of Christians to the other world.

The Most Holy Virgin Theotokos, who served the Father as a daughter, Christ as Mother, and as holy servant to the Holy Spirit, ever remaining a servant and handmaid of the Lord, as it says in the Gospel, ever serving now the Most Holy Trinity in Heaven together with all the saints and angels after ceaselessly serving Him on Earth to her last breath, now ever intercedes and ever prays for us and for our salvation.

We have a kind and merciful Mother there in Heaven. Do not think that because the Mother of the Lord is translated to Heaven today that she has left the world. No! Once moving there, she has great authority and great power to help us. She is now nearer to the throne of God; she has gone there to ever look upon the needs of the poor, the prayers of widows, upon beggars, the imprisoned, the persecuted, the suffering, the sick. There she became a Mother helping everyone in trouble—all who are oppressed and all who love her and call upon her help with their whole hearts. We have a most blessed Mother in Heaven, the Mother of mercy and grace, who ever prays for the entire Church of Christ and every child of the Church of Christ individually.

Blessed and thrice blessed is every Christian who keeps an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos in their house and reads an akathist, moleben, and other prayers to the Mother of God every day. There is none in Heaven nor on Earth more powerful, save the Holy Trinity, than the Mother of God, who is mighty in helping us.

In giving birth, O Theotokos thou hast retained thy virginity, and in falling asleep thou hast not forsaken the world. Thou who art the Mother of Life hast passed over into life, and by thy prayers thou dost deliver our souls from death. (Troparion, Tone 1).

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