In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, let us remember our Most Holy Theotokos, she who prays and intercedes for us all.

The Smolensk Icon of our Most Holy Theotokos was named “Hodegetria”, which means “way guide”. The Church says the icon was written by the Holy Evangelist Luke during the earthly lifetime of our Most Holy Theotokos. There were many copies of the wonderworking icon made, and some were in Russia, which also possessed the Grace of God and bestowed wonders to the churches. A copy of the Smolensk icon helped to stave off enemies in Russia.

Our Most Holy Theotokos is special to us in the Church. Even before we knew of her in the New Testament, she was hinted in the Old Testament many times (Daniel 2:44-45 and Proverbs 9:1-11).

As we read in our Divine Liturgy, she intercedes for us before our Lord. It is something special to us in the Orthodox Church, that we have our Most Holy Theotokos on our minds all the time, while others do not even venerate or accord her at all. This is a gift, that we are able to walk within the Orthodox journey towards God, and are blessed with the intercessions of our Most Holy Theotokos, the Apostles, the saints from antiquity to now, and the holy angels of our Lord.

We are admonished by our Lord in Luke 10:38-42; 11:27-28, that it is most important in our life journeys to spend as much time as we can on repentance and prayer unto our Lord, and not indulge in mere activities and tasks. We are to labor honestly and earnestly, to earn our fair wages for sustenance, but we are to remember our primary purpose in life, to grow towards God, to seek Theosis.

If our Lord showed us what humility and true faith in God meant in Philippians 2:5-11, can we expect to do any less if we are to grow towards Theosis with God? Likewise, our Most Holy Theotokos showed us what true faith and humility was, when she readily accepted what God asked of her.

Pride is one of the greatest failings of humankind, and it was the very same that took the first of our kind down from immortality to death. Likewise, the evil one plays on our pride all the time to bring us down, bit by bit he chips away at our beings, until we are reduced to ruin. Therefore, imitate Christ our Lord, in humility.

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:
Daniel 2:44-45
Proverbs 9:1-11
Luke 10:38-42; 11:27-28
Philippians 2:5-11