risu.org.ua - All Feasts of Our Lady are celebrations of a certain event from the earthly life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Feast of Protection has a totally different character because it is a celebration of something which is happening today, now.
This is a holiday which is not closed only in the past but which opens to us something happening today, not on earth but in heaven.
With these words the Father and Head of the UGCC His Beatitude Sviatoslav addressed the faithful during his homily at the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy in the church of the Protecting Veil of Our Lady in Vinnytsia on October 14.
"Today the Christ's Church is observing one of the most solemn, deep and favorite feasts among people - the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God. It is special not only because you're living in Vinnytsia under the Veil of the Blessed Virgin Mary, not only because it was initiated in our history back in the times of Kyiv Christianity, but because it differs by its character and content from all other holidays established in honor of Virgin Mary", explained the Primate of the UGCC.
According to the preacher, the Feast of Protection is connected with the historic event, which is proven even by the critical contemporary experts. In approximately the 8th century Constantinople was attacked from the north by Vikings. Most likely that they came from our lands, down the ancient Dnieper along the way known to historians as the route "from the Vikings to the Greeks". The glorious capital of the Byzantine empire was threatened when no one expected this. The emperor with his army was out of city at that time because he had to respond to the armed attack of the Arabs approaching from the south. The city remained defenseless, without the army. The fleet of the Vikings which came up to Constantinople was a mortal danger for its people. And then the Patriarch realized that awaiting human help was useless. He called all the people to prayer in order to ask God for protection for the city. And during that anxious and extremely strong praying the Blessed Virgin Mary came to the church, as one of the worshippers. Even more - she rose above the altar and was seen not only by St. Andrew but others, too. She spread before the people her omophorion which is a part of Bishop' clothes and an important symbol of protection, salvation. For, as the preacher said, in Bishop's liturgical clothes, omophorion symbolizes a lost sheep which the Good Shepherd finds, puts on his shoulders and carries back to the flock.
"Perhaps people didn't hear and didn't know what Mary in her prayer was asking her only-begotten Son for but they saw the omophorion and understood everything. The Mother of God appeared as a sign and assurance of safety, a symbol of protection for the city and its people. She didn't just heard the people 's prayers but became one of them", added His Beatitude Sviatoslav. Connection between Mother and Son is deep and so strong that in such an intimate way Our Lady wanted to protect those who were begging God for salvation. And the Vikings withdrew. "The Patriarchal Notes" assert that the people accepted this as a true miracle. It is interesting that this holiday is solemnly observed on those lands from where Constantinople was threatened", pointed out the preacher.
In his opinion the Feast of Protection is the holiday of safety, defense and motherly intercession for us by the Most Holy Virgin Mary: "Today we too, standing at prayer, ask Her and the Lord for our numerous needs and requests. What does it mean: to pray? It means to talk to God in order to bring to Him all our life and open the most secret corners of our heart. But today is a holiday of a special kind of prayer. We know that there are various prayers: prayer of request, glorifying, repentance. So today is a feast of a special prayer and, perhaps, Our Lady wants us to master it as well as she did. The Feast of Protection - is a feast of prayer of intercession. When someone prays such a prayer, indeed he or she prays like a mother for her children. Since they don't ask anything for themselves but ask for their dearest and closest ones".
Prayer of intercession is a prayer of mediation, when we stand before God not as a separate individual who is asking for himself only. This is a prayer for the needs of others who perhaps don't know how to pray or don't know that God can be approached in need; for those who are in great danger balancing on the line between life and death. So today, on this holiday, let us learn from Our Lady intercessory prayer for the most needy, poor and abandoned", said His Beatitude Sviatoslav. The Head of the Church called to "spread the omophorion of prayer together with the Mother of God over our soldiers who defend Ukraine on the battlefield". It's not a coincidence that this day is also the holiday of the Ukrainian Army. Even in the Cossacks' times there was a Church of Protection at Sich because Cossacks knew that though they were fighting, but victory is given by God.
On this day before the Liturgy in Vinnytsia His Beatitude Sviatoslav consecrated a commemorative plaque in honor of the Supreme Command of the Galician Army: "I believe that the whole Ukraine at that time was praying intercessory prayer for its soldiers who were fighting for the Motherland. So we have to greet our men today with the Defender of Motherland Day".
The UGCC Department of Information