Iveron icon of Most Holy TheotokosIn the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. We commemorate our Most Holy Theotokos. May our beloved Most Holy Mother of God pray for us. Amen.

Our Most Holy Theotokos, Mother of God, is often praying for us and interceding for us before our Lord and Christ. Throughout history, many miracles were told to us through the saints and the faithful, of how our Holy Mother has been part of our Christian journey.

The Iveron icon of our Theotokos is just one of so many examples.

In around 1004 AD on Bright Tuesday, the monks of the Iveron Monastery on Mount Athos saw a pillar of light that shone from the heavens to the sea, lasting for days. When the fathers of the monastery drew near to the sea, they saw an icon of our Theotokos beneath the pillar of light out at sea. As they went towards the icon, the icon withdrew even farther out to sea. Our Theotokos appeared to these fathers near the shore, and told them that a Georgian monk named Gabriel would be the only one worthy enough to receive the icon out at sea. She also appeared to Gabriel, who was laboring in the monastery at that time, “Enter the sea, walk upon the waves with faith, and all will witness my love and mercy for your monastery.”

The fathers went back to the monastery and fetched Fr Gabriel to the shore, chanting hymns and censing. Fr Gabriel walked upon the water as if on land, retrieved the icon in both arms, and carried it back to shore.

One time, when the monks were praying, a cool sweet spring gushed from the ground where the icon stood. They took the icon to a church and set it upon the sanctuary with great reverence. And yet, when the monks returned, they found the icon hanging on a wall near the entry gate instead. They put the icon back to the sanctuary, and the same thing happened the very next day, and many days.

Then our Theotokos appeared to Fr Gabriel and said, “Announce to the brothers that from this day on they should not carry me away. for what I desire is not to be protected by you; rather, I will overshadow you, both in this life and in the age to come. As long as you see my icon in the monastery, the grace and mercy of my Son shall never cease.”

The monks were filled with great joy, and built a small church at the entry gate and glorified the Theotokos icon there. The icon became known as the Iveron Mother of God icon.

Our beloved Theotokos is as much with us, as much an intercessor before her Son and our Lord, as she did then for so many hundreds of years. She showed us that true compassion is coupled with great humility, and that service for our Lord was unceasing, because her joy in our Lord was also unceasing.

With humility naturally comes obedience, and the Prophets before us showed us much of the same journey in reconciliation with God (Joshua 1:7-9)

Our Lord Jesus Christ too showed us the same path, so that we may reconcile with God. He became one of us, in obedience to God the Father, and until death (Philippians 2:5-11). It is a conscious choice, that in obedience to the Lord’s Will, however difficult it may seem to our mortal selves, we are assured of the blessings and the grace to come (St Luke 10:38-42; 11:27-28).

So, even in the gravest humiliation, the toughest challenges, the most painful suffering, we who hold on to our faith in God with humility and obedience, are assured of the strength to go on (Psalm 91:9-13). Do not believe even a second, the temptations of the evil one in such challenging moments, however sweet and seemingly salvific they may appear, for these lies are nothing against the refinement our Lord intends for us, that we may be honed into gold and silver, to reconcile with Him with eternal life.

Let us pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Let us close by praying the thanksgiving prayer:

It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.

O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr Raphael+

Readings
Joshua 1:7-9
Psalm 91:9-13
St Luke 10:38-42; 11:27-28
Philippians 2:5-11