Most Holy Theotokos, save us!

My Dear Spiritual Ohana,

As we come to the month of August, we come to celebrate 15 days dedicated especially to the Theotokos.  These 15 days lead us up to the Feast of her Dormition, celebrated on August 15th.

Panagia plays a special role in our lives as Orthodox Christians.  Bishop Demetri Khoury states, most accurately, the following about her role:  “Mary’s meaning for the Orthodox Christian lies in this, that she is the first and most perfect example of God’s plan and design for the whole Church and for each individual Christian.  Because she is Theotokos, that is the Mother of God, she is also the first and highest among the saints.  She is a model not only for women, but indeed for all Orthodox Christians, men, women, young people, children, senior citizens. 

When we are talking about Mary, we are saying something about ourselves, we are proclaiming the Christian ideal of humanity.  She is the perfect Christian.  In her life and person she shows perfectly what it means to believe, to love and to be loved, to be graced, to be saved.  The scriptures tell us that she was “full of grace,” that the “Lord was with her” and that she had “found favor with God.”  (Luke 1:28, 30)  For God to have chosen this woman above all others to be Mother of His son, she had to be a special person, in loving God, in devotion to prayer, in personal commitment to God, and in communion with Him.  She gives an example of a total and freely given acceptance and conformityto the will of God.  She could have said no—and where would we be today if she had said no?  But instead she gave us yet another example to follow.  She refused to display a blind and unreasoning faith, but instead she demonstrated a faith that engages the entire person.  She asked questions and when she had assured herself that this was indeed the will of God for her, she said yes!  This is an example for each of us to follow.”

So my beloved, we see her as a model and example for us to follow in our lives as Christians.  She is greater in honor than all the saints and angels.  She is our mother whom we can turn to as a small child turns to his/her own mother.  She is our greatest and most fervent Intercessor before her Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the standard by which we can all live by and follow in our personal lives.

As the Church comes to honor our Lady the Theotokos, let us also honor her and ask for her intercessions by coming to the various services of Paraklesis (Supplications to the Theotokos), the Great Vespers of our Lord’s Transfiguration and of the Dormition of the Theotokos as well as the Orthros and Divine Liturgies for the celebrations and observing the fast during this special Holy Season.  Let us also imitate her in our daily lives as much as possible, as she is the greatest example we can strive to mirror and emulate.

In the services of the Church, we rightly sing and exclaim to our Lady the Theotokos: 

“You are honored more than the Cherubim,
And you have more glory, when compared, to the Seraphim;
You, without corruption,
Did bear God, the Logos;
You are the Theotokos;
You do we magnify.”

I wish our community a blessed month of August and greatest success as we come to hold our Annual Greek Festival on August 29th and 30th!

With Love in Christ,

+Fr. Alexander  

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