“We have gathered in this monastery where our forebears, holy nuns, priests and the faithful have prayed throughout the centuries. According to the saints, on today’s date the Most Holy Theotokos spread her holy veil over the people as a sign of protection, blessing and help to us all. That is our message on this day, o brothers and sisters, that the most Holy Theotokos is above us and she blesses all those who deserve her blessing. Let us strive, therefore, to follow the example of the saints, especially that of the Most Holy Theotokos who, when the Archangel Gabriel informed her that she was to bear the Son of God, said, As I am a servant of God, may the fate that befalls me be according to your words, thus demonstrating at once her willingness and readiness to do what God expected of her. This, o brothers and sisters, is a message for us to follow the example of the Most Holy Theotokos and all the saints that we might become worthy of her blessing and the blessing of her Son, the Lord Christ, as well as all the saints of our people.
I repeat that feast days have been established among other reasons to serve as a model for us on how to act and how to live. The Most Holy Theotokos in one of her songs sang: God looked upon the calmness of His servant. Hence all generations will call me blessed. Thus the characteristic of the Most Holy Theotokos demonstrated throughout her life was calmness. The opposite of calmness is pride, which transformed an angel into the devil. Calmness is the virtue that elevated the Most Holy Theotokos to the greatest heights of the human race.
The times are such, o brothers and sisters, that many condemn us and work on reducing our numbers”. However, let us be careful that we do not do the same for in all honesty, among all the misfortunes that have befallen us and continue to befall us, our guilt and sins also have a role. Thus in these difficult times, o brothers and sisters, let us pray to the Most Holy Theotokos today and her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ and all the saints of our people that we strive to be as God would expect us to be and why He created us and sent us into this world. He does not expect us to do more than we are able nor less than what we are capable. And that is to fulfill the will of God, remaining worthy of the Christian name and the names of our holy forebears who in peace as well as in war, in slavery as well as in liberty, knew how to be and remain the people of God, as we ourselves should be doing. And when we appear before the Lord Jesus, that He might recognize us and acknowledge us as his faithful men and women servants so that we might find ourselves on His right side, among those to whom He will say, Go with the blessing of my Father. That, o brothers and sisters, is the meaning and the purpose of our life.”
The Protecting Veil of the Most Holy Theotokos
(from “The Prologue of Ochrid” by Holy Bishop Nikolaj Velimirovich of Zhicha), 1/14 October
The Church has always glorified the most holy Mother of God as the Protectress and Defender of the Chirstian people, entreating, by her intercession, God’s loving-kindness towards us sinners. The Mother of God’s aid has been clearly shown times without number, both to individuals and to peoples, both in peace and in war, both in monastic desserts and in crowded cities. The event that the Church commemorates and celebrates today proves this constant protection of the Christian people by the Mother of God. On October 1st, 911, in the time of the Emperor Leo the Wise (or the Philosopher), there was an all-night vigil at the Blachemae church of the Mother of God in Constantinople. The church was crowded.
St Andrew the Fool for Christ was standing at the back of the church with his disciple Epiphanius. At four o’clock in the morning, the most holy Mother of God appeared above the people with a veil spread over her outstretched hands, as though to protect them with this covering. She was clad in gold-encrusted purple and shone with an unspeakable radiance, surrounded by apostles, saints, martyrs and virgins. Seeing this vision, St Andrew gestured towards it and asked Epiphanius: ‘Do you see how the Queen and Lady of all is praying for the whole world?’ Epiphanius replied: ‘Yes, Father; I see it and stand in dread.’ As a result, this commemoration was instituted to remind us both of this event and of the Mother of God’s constant protection whenever we prayerfully seek that protection, that shelter, in distress.