Wednesday October 14, 2020 / October 1, 2020
19th Week after Pentecost. Tone one.
Fast. Fish Allowed
The Protection of Our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. Apostle Ananias of the Seventy (1st c.). Venerable Romanus the Melodist of Constantinople (556). Venerable Sabbas, abbot of Vishera (Novgorod) (1461). New Hieromartyr Alexis priest (1918). New Hieromartyr Michael priest (1920). New Hieromartyrs Alexander, Gregory, Nicholas priests, Martyr John (1937). Martyr Domninus of Thessalonica (4th c.). Martyr Michael, abbot in Armenia, and 36 Fathers with him (790). Miracle of the Pillar with the Robe of the Lord under it at Mtskheta (330) (Georgia). Synaxis of All Saints of Moldova. Liublinsk, Pskov-Protection, Kasperovsk, Brailovsk, Gerbovetsk and Barsk Icons of the Mother of Go
The Scripture Readings
Most holy Mother of God, today we Orthodox joyfully celebrate thy coming among us. As we gaze at thy icon we cry with compunction: Shelter us under thy protection, deliver us from evil, and pray thy Son Christ our God to save our souls.
Today the Virgin is standing before us in the Churchpraying for us with the choirs of Saints. Angels worship with Hierarchs, Apostles rejoice with Prophets, for the Mother of God intercedes with the Eternal God for us.
This is one of the most beloved feasts of the Russian people, one of the most pleasing. When I have occasion to speak about how the All-Pure Virgin covered the worshippers in the Blachernae Church with her omophorion, I always point out that there were, of course, different people in this church: the pious and godly; the not very pious; perhaps some who had grown cold; and perhaps even the very sinful. But did the Mother of God inquire into this? Did she separate the good from the bad?
No, she covered everyone with her omophorion! That is why we all firmly trust that, although we often prove ourselves unworthy of God’s mercy – and, on the contrary, worthy of God’s wrath, judgment, and righteous and well-deserved punishment – nonetheless the Mother of God stands with her omophorion between us and the Lord, Whom we anger with our sins. We are capable of provoking God.
The Holy Hierarch Theophan the Recluse once wrote sorrowfully: “What a wonderful Lord we have: long-suffering and abundant in mercy; Who never grows angry to the end; Who does not remain at enmity unto the ages; Who forgets His wrath as soon as we turn to Him with repentance! But we are capable of bringing even such a Merciful and Long-Suffering One to wrath, so as to oblige Him to take up the rod of vengeance, although He is endless mercy and compassion.”
But it often happens that when the Lord turns His wrathful gaze upon us sinners, He does not see us – for the Mother of God has covered us with her omophorion and prays to Him for us all: for the good and for the evil; for the righteous and for sinners; for the pious and for the impious. For everyone! So always remember, when you come here to the Church of the Protection of the Mother of God, that here you are safeguarded as nowhere else in the world. Therefore you should always pray to the Mother of God with faith and trust.
If an earthly mother said about her children that she had some who were good and obedient, and others who were disobedient, she might say: “For a mother they are all equal: whichever finger you cut from a hand, it is all equally painful.” It is the same thing with us. To the Heavenly Mother, to whom the Lord gave to adopt the entire human race – and that means all of us – everyone is equally dear.
How she grieves for the disobedient and ungodly and, for her part, prays to the Lord, that He might put aside His avenging sword and might still have mercy upon those who can be set aright! Do not forget about this and always pray to her with trust, that she might cover us with her Almighty Omophorion! Amen.
Holy Venerable Parasceva
Thou art worthy of praise, Paraskeva. / Thou didst love the ascetic and hesychast life. / Thou didst run with longing to thy Bridegroom, Christ. / Thou didst accept His good yoke in thy tender years, marking thyself with the sign of the Cross. / Thou didst fight against impure thoughts; / through fasting, prayer and the shedding of tears thou didst quench the burning coal of the passions. / Now in the heavenly bridal chamber of Christ, / as thou standest together with the wise virgins / intercede for us who honor thy precious memory.
Let us all piously praise all-honorable Paraskeva, / the intercessor for the afflicted. / She gave up her earthly life, / and received eternal incorruption. / Therefore, she has been granted the grace to work wonders / by the command of God.
This glorious saint was of Serbian descent, and was born in the town of Epivat between Selymbria and Constantinople. St. Parasceva’s parents were wealthy, devout Christians. They also had a son, Euthymius, who was tonsured a monk during his parents’ lifetime, and later became the famous Bishop of Madytos. The virgin Parasceva always yearned for the ascetic life for the sake of Christ. After her parents’ repose, she left her home and went first to Constantinople, then to the wilderness of Jordan, where she lived the ascetic life until old age. Who can express all the labors, sufferings and demonic temptations that St. Parasceva endured in the course of her many years? In her old age, an angel of God once appeared to her and said: “Leave the wilderness and return to your homeland; it is necessary that you render your body to the earth there, and your soul to the habitation of the Lord.” St. Parasceva obeyed, and returned to Epivat. There she lived for two years in ceaseless fasting and prayer, then gave up her soul to God and took up her abode in Paradise. St. Parasceva entered into rest in the eleventh century. Over the course of time her relics were translated to Constantinople, to Trnovo, again to Constantinople, and then to Belgrade. Her relics now repose in Romania, in the town of Iasi. In Belgrade, the well of St. Petka miraculously heals the sick who draw near with faith in God and love for this saint.
St. Nikolai Velimirovic
HYMN OF PRAISE
THE VENERABLE PARASCEVA–SAINT PETKA
“The Lord desires a pure heart”:
Thus says the Gospel.
A pure virgin you remained,
And you gave your pure heart to God–
O most wonderful saint,
Saint Parasceva, our ideal!
The Lord seeks a most pure mind,
Without fancy and without falsehood;
And you presented Him your most pure mind,
Like that of an angel, of the same kind.
O most wonderful saint,
O Saint Parasceva, hearken to our petitions!
The Lord seeks a pure soul,
As a heavenly shrine;
You perfected such a soul,
And now shine in heaven.
O most wonderful saint,
Parasceva, help us!
By your prayers, help us
In the misfortunes of life.
Through the clouds of earthly sorrow
Bring us light, like a rainbow–
O chaste virgin, most wonderful,
Holy Mother Parasceva!
Examples of how the saints themselves reveal their hidden relics to men justify the honor rendered to the relics of the saints–not to mention the miraculous action of these relics, which doubly justifies them. For a long, long time, no one could locate the grave of St. Parasceva. Then it happened that a sailor died, and his body was carelessly laid in the proximity of the saint’s grave. When the body turned into carrion and began to emit an unbearable stench, a monk who lived nearby summoned the peasants to help him bury the corpse. It happened that they buried him in St. Parasceva’s own grave. That night, St. Parasceva appeared in a dream to one of those peasants (George by name) who had buried the corpse. She appeared as a beautiful and exquisitely-adorned queen, surrounded by many glorious soldiers. She said: “George, exhume my relics at once, and lay them in another place; for I can no longer endure the stench from that corpse.” Then she told him who she was, and where she was from. The same night a local peasant woman named Euphemia had the same dream. The next day, the peasants began to dig and in fact found the relics of St. Parasceva. They were extraordinarily fragrant, and soon proved to be miracle-working.
Concerning the relics of St. Gervasius and St. Protasius, St. Ambrose relates how their relics were discovered in a similar manner. One night, two handsome youths and an old man appeared to Ambrose, who was awake. He thought that the old man was the Apostle Paul. While the young men remained silent, the old man spoke to Ambrose concerning them, saying that they were Christ’s martyrs, and that their relics lay in the very place where Ambrose was praying to God at that time. He went on to say that everything else concerning them would be revealed in a book that Ambrose would find in their grave. The following day, Ambrose recounted his vision and began to dig, and found the relics of both men. From the book that he found he learned that their names were Gervasius and Protasius. In the presence of St. Ambrose, a certain blind man named Severus touched these holy relics and immediately received his sight.
Contemplate the wondrous healings worked by the holy apostles (Acts 5):
1. How many signs and miracles were performed through the hands of the apostles;
2. How many of the sick were healed just by the shadow of the Apostle Peter.
on how the angels do battle for the righteous
The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him and delivers them (Psalm 34:7).
The angel of the Lord will do battle for those who fear God. This has been clearly shown many times, as has been recorded; and it has occurred numberless times that have not been recorded. The Archangel Michael took up arms for Joshua, the Son of Nun. An angel did battle for the righteous King Hezekiah and, in one night, destroyed the army of the Chaldeans. How many times have angels visited the Christian apostles and martyrs in prison, strengthened them, and caused them to rejoice? The consolation of the righteous one comes from knowing that God is All-seeing, and sees his misfortune; that God is Omnipotent, and has power to save him from misfortune; that God is All-merciful, and will save him from misfortune. God will send His radiant angel to the aid of the righteous. The righteous one will not have to struggle against his tyrant, for the angel of God will do battle in his place. When God’s angel takes up arms, what army dares confront him? What empire will wage war against him? In an earlier Psalm, the Prophet David says: No king is saved by the multitude of an army; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain hope for safety (Psalm 33:16-17).
Hence, it does not help at all if the unjust, the worldly, are allies. When God’s angel takes up arms–all will burst as a bubble of water. Even when he was king, David remembered how, as a mere shepherd boy, he killed Goliath, a giant who was armed to the teeth, with a slingshot. On many occasions, David sensed the assistance of God’s angel. That is why he could with confidence console the oppressed but righteous ones with these words of comfort and strength: the angel of the Lord encamps around all who fear the Lord, and who serve Him, and an angel of God will deliver them.
O my brethren, let us not doubt these words, but carefully consider, on a daily basis, how the angel of God leaves us in sorrow when we sin, and how he hastens to our assistance with joy and unspeakable power when we repent and implore God’s mercy.
O Lord God, our Creator, the King of myriads of angels: forgive us, and save us, and protect us by Thy holy angels.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.