A mother will protect, cover, love and care for her children, and treat any sorrows that may befall them as her own. We adults are living our own lives. We like to think that we are powerful, intelligent and experienced enough to deal with any challenge on our own. But when the difficult times come, when nobody is around, and the magnitude of our misfortune is far beyond our human capabilities, we turn to our Heavenly Mother, the Intercessor and Protector of all Christians. Almost all of us will have addressed our prayers to the Holy Mother of God to plead for Her help. As I was praying for the life of a close member of my family, and came to realise that my prayer was not having any power; when disbelief, despondency and doubt seemed to have engulfed my whole soul, there was only one hope left; and, almost involuntarily, I called out in my prayer to the Mother of God, imploring her to come to my aid. “Help me, save me,” I cried. She always hears and always helps.
Beyond any doubt, the protective veil of the Holy Mother of God extends over the whole of Orthodox Russia. Her protection certainly gave us the strength to complete the Church of the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God here at the Convent. The recovery of the Reigning Icon at the Convent of Ss. Martha and Mary – built by the Holy Martyr St. Elisabeth Romanov – presaged the coming victory over the the kingdom of darkness, despite the Satanic rage against the Orthodox Church and the Holy Russia; it sustained in many the hope that the evil would eventually be defeated. In fact, Christ’s love has never left this land or its people. The decades of the war against God have ended in God’s victory through the incessant prayer of the Holy Mother of God for her people extended to Her Son. Revered images of the Holy Mother of God are kept in every place, and we fall at the feet of the Mother of God in our infirmity, knowing that She loves us and her omophorion will protect us from all sorrows.
Through the Mother of God, the whole humanity accepts and unites with God; by humbling themselves, people were able to recover their original beautiful image, and even exceed it. All the pleas of the generations that have fallen apart from God were condensed in Her. And so, after thousands of years, people’s sorrows and pleas to heaven the Holy Theotokos was born. Her life was one of service to God and of humility. She became the first temple of the New Testament. Through her, we rediscovered God, His closeness to us and His love for us. The Holy Mother of God became the bridge that connected heaven and earth. Her icons are the floodgate of the heavenly river of God’s grace. She is still praying incessantly for everyone who calls for her help. She continues to save people from eternal death.
The Holy Theotokos is in blue, the colour of the sky. At the throne of Her Son, she still does not leave a single Christian home without her help; her images can be found in every Christian home, and She is honoured in every Christian Church. The prayer that she received from Archangel Gabriel is being said by millions of people. It is a powerful resource that strengthens our spirit in our battle against sin.
We are grateful to God to have a heavenly mother who has adopted all the people as her children – obedient or rebellious, good natured or ill-willed, pure or impure. She loves us as a mother, and will always help, intercede and protect us whenever we need it.
Some children will not listen to their parents. They may be after something, but are not willing to listen or to be grateful. They choose to walk away from God and God’s grace. We too, may act at times as disobedient children, wandering aimlessly around and tormenting ourselves and others. In doing so, we may be driven by our delusions of independence and freedom, of being able to do what we please. Eventually, we come to understand that we have acted wrongly, and have brought a many sorrows onto ourselves, and particularly onto our neighbours, despite our intentions. We Christians should be mindful of the need to seek advice. When children are obedient, they will ask their parents what they should do, how long they should play outside, and whether to act or to refrain from doing so. They will look to their parents for guidance. It works very much the same way in spiritual life. In it, we are all like small children. To avoid being trapped in sin, and in a sinful world, to keep ourselves from being deceived by our enemy – who will always look to exploit our weak points – we all need to have, and take guidance from, our One and Only Mother in heaven.