Sash of our Theotokos – What do we seek?

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, we remember a father among the saints, St Aidan of Lindisfarne, and St Gennadius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and St Cyprian of Carthage. St Aidan, St Gennadius, St Cyprian, pray for us! We also remember our Most Holy Theotokos, through the placing of her sash, a holy relic in the early Church.

St Gennadius, Patriarch of Constantinople, was a meek and learned hierarch, whose prayers were frequently heard to heal even those who were great sinners with great afflictions. He was a prolific writer who wrote many commentaries, on the Book of Daniel, parts of the Old Testament, on the epistles of Apostle St Paul, and many homilies. Sadly, not many remain in our time.

The sash, or belt, of our Most Holy Theotokos, Mother of God, was placed during the reign of the emperor Arcadius, in the Blakhernae Church in Constantinople. The sash was given to the care of the Holy Apostle Thomas, and kept in Jerusalem after her dormition. During the reign of the emperor Leo the Wise, the sash healed the emperor’s wife Zoa miraculously. Thereafter, the sash was re-sealed into the vessel. Parts of the holy relic of our Theotokos are stored in the Batopedia Monastery in Mount Athos, in Trier Monastery, and in Gruzia of Georgia. Our Mother of God, beloved Theotokos, intercedes for us to her Son our Lord when we cry out for help.

What do we seek, as Christians in our daily journeys? What is it that makes us different from others when traveling through the passage of time?

In a single word – Theosis.

When we reflect on readings in St Luke 10-11, we are reminded by our Lord Jesus Christ, that we are to look after and seek the great things, that of walking towards God, rather than the little mundane things in life.

First, let us today consider the Didache, teachings of the Holy 12 Apostles, which was an important religious treatise of the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the gentiles. It is not discussed or read often, but is an important document for us to learn from. It is perhaps the oldest surviving catechism in written form.

Chapter 11 of 16, concerning ministry and the prophets. 11:4-6,12 – Let every apostle who come to you be received as the Lord. Such an apostle will remain one day, and if it is necessary, a second day; but if he remains three days, he is a false prophet. And let the apostle when departing take nothing but bread until he arrives at his resting place; but if he asks for money, he is a false prophet… But whoever shall say in the spirit, give me money, or things of that kind, listen not to him; but if he tell you concerning others that are in need that you should give unto them, let no one judge him.

This portion of the Didache reminds us of what we must put priority in – Theosis, the walking of a lifelong journey towards God as the center of our lives and the focus of our actions. As we reflect on today’s readings from Proverbs 16:6-9, it reminds us too, that we are to walk the narrow and struggling path towards God, rather than hungering and thirsting after loads of gold that deviate us away from the narrow and the righteous path to God. After all, we seek Theosis, to partake the Divine Nature of God, to share a glimpse of the illumination of Christ our Lord, and most of all, an eternal life, with an entry in the Book of Life.

Therefore, we are reflect on St Luke 10-11 and Proverbs 16, what are the great things in life that we seek and do? Repentance and prayer.

Repentance sheds our self-inflicted burdens unto our Lord, whose shoulders can bear infinite burdens of ours. Repentance strips us bare so that we can receive reconciliation from the Lord when we confess our sins with our priests. When we pray, however simply, and especially sincerely, unto the Lord, we begin to take small baby steps towards God, every day, a little at a time. We will fall, and our Lord, through His holy angels and saints, will surround us with their prayers of love and intercession. Our Lord will work subtle signs and wonders into our daily lives as we sincerely seek Him and nothing else. He never did say the journey will be easy, but He promised He will be with us till the end (Isaiah 46:4).

Prayer has many forms. We who labor in the world, remember our Lord Jesus Christ, through a simple prayer as often as we can, “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+

Isaiah 46:4
Proverbs 16:6-9
St Luke 10:38-42; St Luke 11:27-28
Hebrews 9:1-7