The Protection of Our Most Holy Lady, the Mother of God
Commemorated on October 1 the feast is celebrated additionally on October 28 in the Greek tradition.
The Feast of the Protection has become associated with thanksgiving for the deliverance of the Greek nation from the Italian invasion of 1940. These events are commemorated in Greece in a national holiday known as “Ochi Day” or “No Day,” referring to the response of the Greek leader Metaxas to Mussolini’s ultimatum, and because of the many miracles of the Holy Virgin which were reported by Greek soldiers during the Greco-Italian War of 1940-1941.
Homily on the Day of the Protection of the Mother of God
St. Nicholai Velimirovich
The bright feast of the Protection of the Mother of God! It is a witness to us of the great glory with which the Most Holy Mother of God is crowned in the heavens. On this day she appeared in heavenly glory, and people saw her and rejoiced. In her hands she held a wondrous protecting veil, to show how she protects and defends people from all evil. There is a two-fold joy for us on this feast: One is that we see a great and righteous woman, a sufferer in earthly life, crowned with such heavenly glory; and the other is that, while abiding in the heavens, she attentively cares for Christians, for the heirs of her Son and God.
And if she makes us glad by her defense, by her appearances, both before, and now, and always, we also, brothers and sisters, should make her glad. We truly can bring joy to the Most Holy Mother of God. You ask, how?
If we believe in the Son of God and the Son of the Virgin Mary, we bring joy to the Mother of God.
If we love Him, as She loves us, we bring joy to the Mother of God.
If we keep Christ’s commandments, by this we bring joy to the one who gave birth to the Lord Christ.
If we repent of our sins, she rejoices with the angels and all the heavenly powers of God. For the Lord said, Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance (Lk. 15:7).
But if we sin and do not repent, we offend the Most Pure Mother of God, we offend the bright angels of God, and all the righteous ones in heaven. What then would be the use of our celebration? What profit is there in prayerful assembly and spiritual hymns? The Lord looks not at the lips, but at the heart; and when He comes to judge the world, He will judge not our talk, but our hearts. If our hearts are not pure He will reject us, but if He finds our hearts pure and filled with mercy and love, He will accept us into His eternal Kingdom. This is why the wise one of the Old Testament said, Keep thine heart with the utmost care; for out of these are the issues of life (Prov 4:23). If the core of a tree is rotten, will it live much longer? But the human heart rots from sin and when it rots, then a man becomes the shadow of a man and he drags across the earth until he disappears from it entirely.
May it not be so with you, my brothers and sisters—do not turn into a shadow but remain people of God; and if you are people of God, then you are also the heirs to the Kingdom of God.
That the righteous inherit the Kingdom of God is witnessed by the Most Pure Mother of God through her appearance in glory and light, with her protecting veil, with which she protects from evil all who run to her with tears, prayer and faith. She appeared and she still appears—not just for the sake of appearing, but in order to open the spiritual eyes of those without faith, so that they would learn of eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven;
To console the sorrowing, so that they would know what great joy awaits them in the next life;
To be a support to the little and the weak, so that they might walk their earthly path with joy, and enter into the Kingdom;
To encourage the penitent, so that they would not stumble on the path of repentance, but stand fast and be saved;
To repay every drop of her Son’s blood with the salvation of many, many human souls;
So that for every drop of her Son’s blood she might protect from destruction thousands and thousands of human souls—for precious, brothers and sisters, is the Blood of the Son of God spilled for mankind. Woe to him who disdains this precious blood—eternal torment will be his just reward. Blessed are you who revere this blood and are voluntarily and consciously saved through it—your reward will be eternal life. Truly precious is the Blood of the Virgin Mary’s Son. All people from the beginning of the world to its end, be they numerous as the blades of grass on the earth and grains of sand in the sea, can be saved by this Blood. But alas, not all will be saved. Only those who want it—and those who do not want it will be turned away, for they disdained the price by which they were purchased.
Be contemptuous of no one, brothers and sisters. There is not a person on earth for whom the Son of the Most Pure Virgin did not give His precious Blood. If one disdains the Blood by which he was bought, he will answer for his own demise; but may none of you be the cause of anyone’s demise. And if you have contempt for a person you have contempt for the blood Christ spilled for his salvation. Strive to bring the sinner to reason and confirm him in the faith, and if you are able to do so, you will obtain a brother and co-heir of Christ’s Kingdom. Praise the righteous, correct the sinner, encourage those who repent. But just as dirty water cannot whiten soiled cloth, neither can the sinner cleanse another sinner until he has cleansed himself. Therefore the Lord warns you to heal thyself! If you want to correct others, correct yourself, and then be zealous for others. This is the law of Christ.
This is how you will bring joy top the Most Pure Mother of God, who brings us joy always. She guards us from attacks and prays for us to God, and kisses us as a mother does her children. She burns with the desire that everyone be saved and enter into Her Son’s Kingdom. Glory and praise be to our God, and to you peace, health, joy, and blessing unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Apolytikion in the First Tone
O Virgin, we extol the great grace of thy Protection, which thou didst spread out like a bright cloud beyond all understanding; for thou dost invisibly protect thy people from the foe’s every assault. Since we have thee as our shelter and certain help, we cry to thee with our whole soul: Glory to thy great deeds, O most pure Maid. Glory to thy shelter most divine. Glory to thy care and providence for us, O spotless one.