Blessed Among Women. Homily on the Feast of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God

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The enemy of our salvation, the devil, especially hates Christ’s two main commandments—on humility and obedience—and pushes weak Christians with all his might onto the path of self-will and pride. He especially teaches them to didsain the canons and edicts of the Ecumenical and local Councils, and to completely denigrate the authority of the great fathers and teachers of the Church.

Most eagerly heeding the advice of the enemy are those who have broken with the Catholic and Apostolic Church: Lutherans and all the many Protestant congregations and sectarians who came from the Lutherans—Baptists, Evangelists, Adventists. They all understand and interpret Holy Scripture in their own way. And each denomination or sect considers only their interpretations to be correct.

But there is only one truth, just as there is only one body of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church; and its only head is our Lord and God Jesus Christ.

Especially harmful and unendurable is the division of churches on the matter of the veneration of the Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary.

In this respect, the Christian world is particularly sharply divided. We Orthodox Christians, as well as Roman Catholics relate with fear and trembling, with profound reverence to the grace-filled and amazing words of the Archangel Gabriel addressed to the Most Holy Virgin Mary: Rejoice, thou who art full of grace, the Lord is with thee… (Lk. 1:28). Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb…

The Most Holy Virgin Mary was shown before the bodiless heavenly powers to be blessed among all women.

But for Lutherans and all Protestants and sectarians, she is only a pious woman, one of the numberless many, and not deserving any exaltation before them.

The Archangel told the Most Holy Virgin Mary, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee (Lk. 1:35).

But this doesn’t bother the Lutherans and the sectarians that came from them at all. They’ve never thought about the fact that the Holy Spirit has never come to dwell in any of the saints with such fullness as in the Most Holy Virgin, who with her most pure body served the supreme mystery of the incarnation of the Pre-Eternal God.

For the sectarians and Protestants she is only a pious woman and no more.

It is hopeless for the Lutherans, Protestants, and sectarians to honor the Most Host Theotokos; they are not convinced by the words of the Archangel, nor are they reproached by the words of the Most Holy Virgin herself in the song she sang before her relative, Elizabeth: For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed (Lk. 1:48)—and they do not want to be numbered among all generations who called the Most Holy Virgin blessed. But God knows with what childlike faith the Orthodox and Catholics accept these words. And He strengthens their reverence for the Most Holy Virgin in an extraordinary way.

He reveals to the Orthodox and Catholic world many miracle-working icons of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, and works innumerable miracles through them.

Our Orthodox Church alone has 99 miracle-working icons of the Theotokos, the appearance of which was accompanied by miracles.

Much time would be needed in order to tell you about these miracles. You already know about many miracles that were manifested at the appearance of, for example, the Tikhvin, Kostroma, Iveron, and Novgorod icons. You have most likely also read about the more ancient miracles of the long years of iconoclasm in Byzantium, which then also mightily strengthened the faith of the Orthodox.

I know how profoundly you revere the wondrous Kazan icon, how you love the beautiful troparion written in her honor: “O fervent Intercessor, Mother of the Lord Most High…”

I know how your faith is strengthened by the many miracles coming from this icon.

Remember always the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 18:3).

Little children always cleave to their mothers and hold on to them. And you, spiritual children of your heavenly Mother, must also place your hope in her in all your sorrows and difficulties, and remember that she prays ceaselessly for the Christian race.

Let us with one voice and one heart render to her our childlike praise.


July 21, 1957

St. Luke (Voino-Yasenetsky), Archbishop of Crimea
Translation by Nun Cornelia (Rees)


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