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.
ON THE 1st OF OCTOBER, THE HOLY CHURCH COMMEMORATES THE HOLY PROTECTION OF OUR
MOST HOLY LADY THEOTOKOS AND EVER-VIRGIN MARY, WHO COVERED THE FAITHFUL WITH HER VEIL AT THE CHURCH OF VLACHERNAI as seen by Saint Andrew the Fool-For-Christ.
"REJOICE WITH GOD, RANKING SECOND ONLY TO THE TRINITY!" (Saint Andrew of Crete)
The Sacred Feast of the Holy Protection of our Most Holy and Glorious Lady and Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary is celebrated today, brethren, in remembrance of a vision beheld by our Holy Father among the Saints, the Venerable Andrew, the fool-for-Christ's sake, during the reign of Emperor Leo. Saint Andrew' struggle and labors for God, amid the most severe deprivations, took him through the streets of Constantinople. He was vouchsafed many visions, but the last recorded one, which took place during a vigil he attended, served as the basis for the establishment of this holy Feast of Vlachernai, at the Church of the Theotokos. This church is described as follows by an anonymous Byzantine hymnographer: "Throughout all the city, of all the churches and chapels dedicated to the Theotokos, this is the most glorious and the most honored." Now according to their custom, Saint Andrew and his disciple, Epiphanius, were attending church. At the fourth hour of the night, behold, the blessed Andrew, with his own eyes, observed the Most Holy Theotokos coming from the beautiful door of the Narthex. She shone like the sun and was upraised very high, even as high as the heavens, being borne aloft by the awe-inspiring orders of Holy Angels. The holy and honorable Forerunner John the Baptist and Saint John the Theologian and Evangelist escorted, by the hand, the Queen of the Angels. The Angels, some going on ahead, and others following were chanting spiritual songs and hymns in a very delightful and pleasant manner. Only Saint Andrew and Epiphanius were able to hear the mystical chanting.
The Queen of Heaven then entered the midst of the temple, where the ancient pulpit (amvon) was located, and then stood in the middle of the Solea. The Lady Theotokos then kneeled down and was praying and entreating her Only-Begotten Son for a long while, for the salvation of the faithful, tears streaming down her countenance that bore the likeness of God. Saint Andrew went to Epiphanius and said to him, "Dost thou see, child, the Lady of the cosmos?" Epiphanius said, "Yes, honorable Father, I also see by thy holy prayers the Lady Theotokos, and I marvel."
After the Theotokos prayed a sufficient time in that place, then she rose up and entered the holy Sanctuary (vema), wherein was kept the Sacred reliquary coffin (soros) containing her veil (Maphorion). She took it up into her hands and exited. She then stood before the Royal Doors of the vema, and placed the veil on her All-Immaculate head, wrapping it with beautiful modesty. Then holding it by her undefiled hands, she took that great and fearful veil and solemnly spread it over the faithful that was present, covering all those there that were Christians. The two men observed that, over the faithful, for a considerable time, her Omophorion was extended and flashing like lightning. As long as the Lady Theotokos stood there and the holy protection of her veil appeared spread over the faithful she was distributing gifts of grace. When the Lady Theotokos began to mount to the heavens, little by little, her divine protection was becoming invisible, until it no longer appeared, but her grace continued, however, to abide there. Moreover, this protection on the faithful continued on account of the presence of her sacred and grace-filled veil, which was preserved in that very church at Vlachernai. This then is the account of the Saint Andrew of Crete and his initiate Epiphanius, who has vouchsafed this vision through the mediation of our divine Father Andrew. Saint Andrew was so filled with the grace of lofty and spiritual contemplation and visions of revelations that transcended nature, that he imparted this grace also to Epiphanius. This and many other similar visions, both fearful and extraordinary, were vouchsafed, Saint Andrew.
Thus, the feast we celebrate today was inaugurated by this vision. The Prophet Esaias prophesied that "in the last days the mountain of the Lord shall be glorious, and the house of God shall be on the top of the mountains, and all nations shall come to it" (Isaiah 2:2)...In a hymn for this Feast, we are told that our Mistress, the Theotokos, is the True Fulfillment of Isaiah's' prophecy, for the mountains and hills have been adorned with the renowned churches of her feast. Yet the Virgin is a mountain (Daniel 2:34) more glorious than Sinai for the latter burned with fire, and thunder and lightning struck it, but she, without being consumed, bore in her womb the Logos/Word, the divine fire. We beseech her as one who has maternal boldness to help us. (Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"-- Saint John Chrysostomos
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God