Homily on the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God

O Mother of God, sheltered by Thy coming /
we faithful people today keep feast in joy, /
and looking at Thy most pure image, /
moved to the depths of our hearts, we say: /
Protect us with Thy precious Veil /
and deliver us from every ill, /
by entreating Christ, Thy Son and our God, /
to save our souls.

(Tropar in tone 4 - Protection of the Mother of God)

Early one morning, two sisters were getting ready for school, as one sister walked out of her room with one pillow on her back and one pillow on her chest. Her sister asked, “why do you have pillows on you?” “Well,” she said, “the pillow on my chest is to protect from all the boys that will break my heart. And the pillow on my back is to protect me from all the friends that will stab me in the back."

Saint Thecla: A Symbol of Chastity, Asceticism and Perseverance

She’s widely celebrated and equally venerated and respected among the different churches of the world including the Orthodox, the Catholic and the Coptic. Saint Thecla whom we venerate today (September 24/October 7) is an apostle and a protomartyr among women who’s equal-to-apostles in sanctity.

Why Is Charity Important?

Photo: elohov.ruRegarding the Holy Apostle Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians

From the very earliest days of the existence of the Church, acts of mercy and charity were an essential part of church life. Our Lord Christ Himself said that whosoever has fed the hungry, given drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, visited the sick and imprisoned, has done those things for Christ Himself (see: Matthew 25: 31- 40).

After Apostolic preaching began in Jerusalem, Christians who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the Apostles’ feet, and distribution was made unto every man, according to his need. (Acts 4: 34–35). Moreover, daily meals were organized in Jerusalem (and later in other cities) for the needy. Once, this even caused a dispute between natives of Jerusalem and the so-called Grecians – who were also Christian Jews, but who lived in various Greek cities in the Diaspora. (see: Acts 6: 1–7). The Grecians considered that their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. (Acts 6: 1). Therefore, the Apostles decided to choose from among the faithful seven men of honest report to take on the responsibility of seeing to charitable activities, as it would not be good for the Apostles themselves to leave the word of God and serve tables (Acts 6: 2).

Holy and Righteous Ancestors of God Joachim and Anna

St. Joachim was of the lineage of Judah and a descendant of King David. Anna was the daughter of Matthan the priest, from the lineage of Levi, as was Aaron the high priest.

Matthan had three daughters: Mary, Sophia and Anna. Mary married, lived in Bethlehem and gave birth to Salome; Sophia married, also lived in Bethlehem, and gave birth to Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Forerunner; Anna married Joachim in Nazareth, and in old age gave birth to Mary, the Most-holy Theotokos. Joachim and Anna had lived together in marriage for fifty years, and yet had remained barren. They lived devoutly and quietly, and of all their income they spent one third on themselves, distributed one third to the poor and gave the other third to the Temple, and they were well provided for.

Once when in their old age they came to Jerusalem to offer a sacrifice to God, the high priest Issachar reprimanded Joachim, saying: “You are not worthy that a gift be accepted from your hands, for you are childless.” Others, who had children, pushed Joachim behind them as one unworthy. This greatly grieved these two aged souls and they returned home in great sorrow. Then the two of them fell down before God in prayer, that He work a miracle with them as He once had with Abraham and Sarah, and give them a child as a comfort in their old age. Then God sent His angel, who announced to them the birth of “a daughter most blessed, by whom all nations on earth will be blessed and through whom the salvation of the world will come.” Anna straightway conceived, and in nine months gave birth to the Holy Virgin Mary. St. Joachim lived for eighty years and Anna lived for seventy-nine, at which time they reposed in the Lord.

They are celebrated on SEPTEMBER 22 / SEPTEMBER 9.

“Grandma, What Do I Need an Icon For?”

A Story about Help from the Most Holy Theotokos   

My grandmother gave me a small icon of the Most Holy Theotokos for graduation. She said that this old icon had saved her loved ones many times: For example, my mother, when she was very sick with the measles in childhood; or my grandfather, when they tried to put him in jail on false charges of grand larceny (he was the director of a restaurant).