Theotokos - Tikhvonsk IconIn the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. May our Most Holy Theotokos, Mother of God, intercede before our Lord Jesus Christ, and keep us safe from spiritual dangers, and keep our journeys to God. Amen.

According to holy tradition, the Tikhvonsk Icon of our beloved Theotokos was written by the Holy Apostle Luke. The icon was miraculously taken from location to location, and once even appeared over the Lake Ladoga in a radiant light. The icon was glorified with many wonders, and especially in the removal of enemies through the intercession of our Most Holy Theotokos.

Our Most Holy Theotokos intercedes for us before our Lord and Christ, and has a very special place in our hearts and prayers. She is a shining example of what obedience to God’s Will means, and what it can mean when we cooperate with God’s Will and work with Him towards our own salvation. In all things she has shown what a blessed life means in obedience to God, no matter how blind we may be to see just yet (St Luke 1:26-38).

We are also to remember that our Lord is at the center of our spiritual life and journeys, and our Lord reminded us that those of us who can hear His Word and keep it, are blessed (St Luke 10:38-42; 11:27-28).

Holy father among the saints, St Isaac the Syrian once said (Homily 56, 89), “The soul that loves God finds rest in God and in God alone. In all the paths that men walk in the world, they do not attain peace until they draw nigh to hope in God.”

How then, do we hope in God, and draw near to Him as Apostle Paul said to the Philippians (Philippians 2:5-11)?

One simple word – humility.

St Silouan the Athonite said, “Many rich and powerful men would pay dearly to see the Lord or His Most Pure Mother, but God does not appear in wealth, but in the humble heart. Every one of the poorest people can humble themselves and come to know God. One needs neither money nor reputation to come to know God, but only humility.”

St John of Kronstadt, whom we commemorate, said in “My Life in Christ”, “A man becomes spiritual as he lives a spiritual life. He begins to see God in all things, to see His power and might in every manifestation. The man sees himself abiding in God and dependent on God for all things, always, and everywhere.

But if a man lives a bodily life and pursues bodily things, he does not see God in anything, even in the most wondrous manifestations of His Divine power. In such a man, he would see bodily and material things only, always, and everywhere – God in not before his eyes (Psalm 35:2).”

As we are called to unite with God through Theosis, we are to cooperate with God in His Will, and to seek obedience (Ecclesiastes 8:5-8), and to be humble and repentant in all our pursuits and journeys.

Let us keep His Name close to us in daily prayers, “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
Isaiah 48:17-19
Ecclesiastes 8:5-8
St Luke 10:38-42; 11:27-28
Philippians 2:5-11