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

Teachings of Christ

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?" (Mark 8:34-37 ESV)

Joachiam and Anna Rejoice

Today the bonds of childlessness are loosed, * for God has heard Joachim and Anna * and He promises manifestly that they, against all hope, would give birth to the Maiden of God * from whom the Uncircumscribed One Himself would be born, becoming man, * and he commanded the Angels to cry out to her: * “Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with you!” (Troparion - Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Today the whole world celebrates * the conception of Anne which was brought about by God, * for she gave birth to the one who, beyond understanding, * gave birth to the Word. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

Saint Nicholas of Myra

The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock, * as a rule of faith, an image of meekness, and a teacher of abstinence. * Therefore, you attained the heights through humility, * and riches through poverty. * O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, * pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved. (Troparion, Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

In Myra, You were shown to be a servant of the sacred things, O Holy Nicholas, * for, fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, you, O Venerable, laid down your life for your people, * and saved the innocent from death. * Therefore, you were sanctified as a great initiate of the grace of God. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. (Proverbs 3:9,10 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

The Holy Eucharist is the first, most important, and greatest miracle of Christ. All the other Gospel miracles are secondary. How could we not call the greatest miracle the fact that simple bread and wine were once transformed by the Lord into His very Body and His very Blood, and then have continued to be transformed for nearly two thousand years by the prayers of priests, who are but simple human beings? And what is more, this mystery has continued to effect a miraculous change in those people who communicate of the Divine Mysteries with faith and humility. 

St. Ambrose of Optina