The Feast of the Theotokos, Agia Skepi (Holy Protection) of the Mother of God

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.

ON OCTOBER 28TH OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHURCH COMMEMORATES THE SOLEMNITY OF THE HOLY PROTECTION OF OUR SOVEREIGN LADY THE MOTHER OF GOD AND EVER-VIRGIN MARY

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The feast of the Holy Protection of the Mother of God was established following a vision of our Holy Father Andrew the Fool-for-Christ during the course of a Vigil in the Church of Vlachernae at Constantinople. At the fourth hour of the night, while deep in prayer, the Saint lifted up his eyes to heaven and beheld the Holy Mother of God watching over the faithful as she covered the faithful with her Veil. Epiphanius, the disciple of Saint Andrew, who was also accounted worthy of looking upon this wonder (miracle), confirmed the truth of the vision. Whereupon the Saint hastened to the altar, opened the coffer containing the precious Veil of the Queen of the world and, standing in front of the royal doors, extended it above the worshippers. Upheld by an invisible power, the Veil hung in the air and was of such size as entirely to cover the great congregation. Then, amid a shattering burst of light, the Mother of God went up into Heaven and out of sight, but leaving the Christian people in possessions of her Holy Veil as a pledge of her loving protection. Many a time did the Mother of God give clear evidence of her protection of the imperial City and, by analogy, of the entire Holy Church of Christ, which is the New Jerusalem. Indeed, everywhere and at every moment, the Sovereign Lady of the world casts her Veil mystically over Christians as she makes prayer and intercessions for the salvation of the world to her Son and Lord. (Source: The Synaxarion).

The Holy Church has always glorified the Most Holy Mother of God as the Protectress and Defender of the Christian people, entreating, by her intercessions (prayers), 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 people, both in peace and in war, both in monastic deserts and in crowded cities...

"...She was clad in gold-encrusted purple and shone with an unspeakable radiance, surrounded by the Holy Apostles, Saints, Martyrs and virgins. Seeing this vision, Saint 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.' (Source: The Prologue from Ochrid)

Because of this wonderful miracle of the Theotokos, we keep a yearly feast of gratitude, imploring our Lady never to cease sheltering us in her mighty prayers.

THE ICON OF THE HOLY PROTECTION. The holy icon of the Holy Protection shows the feast in which the Theotokos is standing above the faithful with her arms stretched open in prayer and draped with a veil. Angels are on both sides of her. In most icons, Saint Andrew and his disciple Epiphanius are in the lower right. Saint Epiphanius is wearing a tunic under his cloak and seems astonished at this miraculous appearance. Saint Andrew is dressed only in a cloak. Below the Theotokos, in the center of the icon, is a young man with a halo dressed in a deacon's sticharion in his left hand he is holding an open scroll with the text of the Kontakion for the Nativity in honor of the Mother of God. This is Saint Romanus the Melodist, the famous hymnographer whose feast is celebrated on October 1st. His choir is with him as is the Emperor Leo the Wise, the Empress, and the Patriarch of Constantinople.

PLESE NOTE: While most of the Orthodox Christian world celebrates the Holy Protection, or Agia Skepi, of the Theotokos on October 1st according to ancient Orthodox Tradition, Hellenes (Greeks) celebrate the Feast-Day of the Agia Skepi (Holy Protection) on October 28th as a special holiday in order to invite the secular government of Greece (Hellas) to honor the Mother of God for her loving protection of the Greek Nation during World War II.

The celebration of the Holy Protection dates back to 626 A.D., when the miraculous intervention of the Theotokos saved the city of Constantinople from the Avars (Turkish-Mongolian Nomads), and it was officially established that October 1st be the date to honor this great miracle. All Orthodox Christians celebrated this feast on October 1st until 21 October, 1952 when the Holy Synod (Council) of Greece decreed (Συνοδικές Εγκύκλιοι, Τόμος Β΄ Αθήνα 1956, σελ. 649) that from henceforth there was to be celebrated in Greece a dual feast of the Holy Protection and the National holiday of 'OXI', which commemorates Greek freedom from Italian occupation, on October 28th. A Service was specially written by Elder Gerasimos Mikragiannanites for this feast on October 28th. (Source: Mystagogy: The Website of John Sanidopoulos).

Greece (Hellas) officially entered the World War II on October 28th, 1940. This is celebrated as OXI Day (the day that Greece said no to Fascism and Nazism). Also, commemorating Ioannis Metaxas' (136-1941) refusal of the Italian ultimatum. The ultimatum demanded of Greece to allow Axis forces to enter Greek territory and occupy certain unspecified "strategic locations" or otherwise face war. Upon his declaration it is reported that thousands of Greeks (Hellenes) stormed the streets and began shouting "OXI!" "NO!" to the Italian ultimatum. On April 6, 1941, Hitler attacked Greece for the first time and united his German forces with those of the Italians.

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Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. First Mode

O Virgin, we extol the great grace of thy Protection, which thou didst spread out like 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.

Kontakion hymn. Plagal Fourth Mode

Let us the faithful hasten to the Theotokos now and venerate her Sacred Veil, as we chant unto her, singing hymns to praise and honor her, as is fitting; for she sheltereth with her shelter and all her faithful flock and preserveth them unharmed from all calamities, as they cry to her; Rejoice, Protection Most Radiant.

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A REMINDER TO ALL

Divine Services will take place at the Holy Dormition Chapel in New Carlisle:
Orthros (Matins) at 9:00 a.m.
Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m.

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MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU

The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George