In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!
Who will not bless thee, O Most Holy Virgin? Who will not sing thy most pure Nativity! With such joyous hymns, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, all the ends of the Christian world praise and glorify the Most Pure Virgin Mary, who was accounted worthy to contain within herself the Uncontainable One and become the Mother of God Most High, and to thereby contribute to our salvation. When the evil serpent-tempter succeeded in seducing the first people and thereby destroyed their paradisiacal blessedness, when death became the lot of all mankind, then the All-Merciful God was pleased to sow a new seed of life and salvation in perishing mankind. In his word of condemnation to the serpent-tempter, the Lord said: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head (Gen. 3:15). And from that moment, the wisdom of God began to arrange the salvation of mankind, preparing the woman who could contain the Uncontainable.
But was it possible to soon find in mankind, infected with the poison of sin, a woman so pure and immaculate that the Holy of Holies could become her seed? Years, centuries, millennia passed, but the expectation of the nations—the Savior—did not appear on Earth. And the sinful human race, guilty before God, not finding a propitiatory sacrifice to God for its sins, languished under the burden of God’s curse and suffered all kinds of afflictions and sufferings for its guilt. The human race, having once faltered, deviated from the true path of God more and more, abiding in delusion and the darkness of a sinful life. This spiritual night in which man dwelt lasted for more than five thousand years, allowing him to commit all sorts of vile, shameful deeds, completely clouded in his mind and reasoning. This is how the Old Testament prophets spoke about this time: There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes (Rom. 3:10-18).
And then, when in the last days the “seed of evil” reached its extreme limits, when, apparently, it was impossible to expect the triumph of good over evil, then the providence of God revealed to the world the pure Virgin who was found worthy to become the Mother of the Redeemer—the God-Man. Is it possible for people not to rejoice in contemplating this most joyous event with the eyes of faith? For an end to human sufferings has come and the time of the reconciliation of man with God is nigh! She was the Morning Star, shining amidst the sinful darkness and announcing to the world that from her soon would rise the spiritual Sun—Christ the Savior, Who enlightens all who come to Him by His Divine teaching.
Having given birth to the Word of God, the Most Pure Virgin Mary became the Mother of God. But she is also now the mother of all of mankind, especially of the Christian race, and she intercedes for us as for her children. We must honor her worthily both as the Mother of God and as our Heavenly Mother; the Lord called all who believe in Him His brothers (Mt. 12:50, Lk. 8:21); therefore, all Christians are children of the Mother of God by the grace of God. And she, my dears, cares for her children and prays for them, taking the most active part in the fate of every Christian from his very birth until the last days of his life. Once, St. Andrew the Fool for Christ was enraptured in Heaven, where he saw many saints, but he did not see the Mother of God. He asked: “Where is the Queen of Heaven?” to which an angel replied that she was on Earth, comforting the sorrowing and helping the sick and all those in troubles and misfortunes.
Rzhevsk Icon of the Mother of God As a token of love to earthly inhabitants, the good Mother of the good King, the Heavenly Queen, left her icons on Earth, through which incalculable mercy is manifested and miracles of her grace flow forth to everyone who runs to her with faith and reverence. Today is celebrated the memory of the Rzhevsk Icon of the Mother of God. Here is a brief history: In 1539, in the village of Klochki in the Rzhevsk District of the Tver Governorate, two thieves were planning to steal two horses in the neighboring village. Having committed their deed, they went to sell what they had stolen at a faraway marketplace. At a little distance before the market, the thieves hid the horses in the thicket and continued on further. Walking through the forest, they unexpectedly saw an icon of the Mother of God in a tree. Surprised, they returned home and reported what they had seen to their fellow villagers.1
A certain monk named Stephen was sent to investigate the miraculous sign. Arriving at the specified spot with a hundred parishioners, he saw a cross on one of the trees there, and some distance away—the icon of the Mother of God, hanging on a pine. Monk Stephen had only just removed the icon when an unusually loud noise was heard and an extraordinary light shone from the icon. At the same time, a man there who had ailing feet received healing from it. When they served a moleben for the blessing of water before the icon, one blind girl gained her sight immediately afterwards, and many other miracles, twenty-seven in fact, occurred with the icon in just one week.
Miracles flowed like streams from the icon while it remained in that place. 150 healings alone were recorded from this icon. And the miracles did not stop in the future. The icon was taken to Moscow and it showed miraculous signs there, healing various sick and ailing people. A church was built in Moscow in its honor, with the establishment of a cross procession to it (on July 11). Later, when they made a copy of the icon, it was sent back to the Tver Governorate.
How can we, dear ones, not honor the Mother of God when she so loves us! Let us love and honor her, for we are so indebted to her! Let us ever turn to her with our needs and she will fulfill all our requests. Rejoice, Mother of God Most High, zealous intercessor for the Christian race!