THE PROTECTION OF OUR ALL-HOLY LADY, THE THEOTOKOS AND EVER-VIRGIN MARY
Reading from Genesis (Genesis 28:10-17)
Jacob went forth from the well of the oath, and departed unto Haran. And came to a certain place, and slept there, for the sun had gone down; and he took one of the stones of the place, and put it at his head, and lay down to sleep in that place, and dreamed: and behold a ladder fixed on the earth, whose top reached to heaven, and the angels of God ascended and descended on it. And the Lord stood upon it, and said: ‘I am the God of thy father Abraham, and the God of Isaac. Fear not; the land on which thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed. And thy seed shall be like the sand of the earth; and it shall spread abroad to the sea, and the south, and the north, and the east; and in thee and in thy seed shall all tribes of the earth be blessed. And behold, I am with thee to preserve thee continually in all the way wherein thou shalt go; and I will bring thee back to this land; for I will not desert thee, until I have done all that I have said to thee.’ And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and said: ‘The Lord is in this place, and I knew it not.’ And he was afraid, and said: ‘How fearful is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!’
Reading from the Prophecy of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 43:27-44:4a)
Thus saith the Lord: ‘It shall come to pass from the eighth day and onward, that the priests shall offer your wholeburnt-offerings on the altar, and your peace-offerings; and I will accept you,’ saith the Lord. Then He brought me back by way of the outer gate of the sanctuary that looketh eastward; and it was shut. And the Lord said to me: ‘This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall pass through it; for the Lord God of Israel shall enter by it, and it shall be shut. For the Prince, He shall sit in it, to eat bread before the Lord; He shall go in by the way of the porch of the gate, and shall go forth by the way of the same.’ And He brought me in by the way of the gate that looketh northward, in front of the house: and I looked, and, behold, the house was full of the glory of the Lord.
Reading from Proverbs (Proverbs 9:1-11)
Wisdom hath built a house for herself, and set up seven pillars. She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine in a bowl, and prepared her table. She hath sent forth her servants, calling with a loud proclamation to the feast, saying: ‘Whoso is foolish, let him turn aside to me.’ And to those who want understanding, she saith: ‘Come, eat of my bread, and drink wine which I have mingled for you.’ Leave folly, that ye may reign forever; and seek wisdom, and improve understanding by knowledge. He who reproveth evil men shall get dishonour to himself; and he who rebuketh an ungodly man shall disgrace himself. Rebuke not evil men, lest they should hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give an opportunity to a wise man, and he will be wiser: instruct a just man, and he will receive more instruction. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of understanding, for to know the law is the character of a sound mind. For in this way thou shalt live long, and years of thy life shall be added to thee.
Holy Gospel according to Luke (1:39-49, 56)
In those days Mary arose and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah, and entered into the house of Zacharias and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb, and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. And she spake out with a loud voice and said, ‘Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And why is it granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed; for there shall be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.’ And Mary said, ‘My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden; for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty hath done to me great things, and holy is His name.’ […] And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.
The Reading from the Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Hebrews (9:1-7)
Brethren: The first covenant had also ordinances of divine service and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made, the first, wherein was the candlestick and the table and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil was the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; and over it the cherubim of glory shadowing the mercy seat, of which we cannot now speak particularly. Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the errors of the people
The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke (10:38-42; 11:27-28)
At that time, Jesus entered into a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His Word. But Martha was encumbered with much serving, and came to Him and said, ‘Lord, dost Thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me.’ And Jesus answered and said unto her, ‘Martha, Martha, thou art anxious and troubled about many things. But one thing is needful, and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’And it came to pass, as He spoke these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice and said unto Him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore Thee and the breasts which Thou hast sucked.’ But He said, ‘Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it.’
Troparion of the Protection (Tone 4)
Today we Orthodox people joyfully celebrate thy glorious coming among us, O Mother of God, and gazing upon thy most pure image, we say with compunction: Shelter us with thy most precious protection, and deliver us from all evil, and pray to thy Son, Christ our God, that He save our souls.
Kontakion of the Protection (Tone 3)
Today the Virgin doth stand before us in church, and with the choirs of saints invisibly prayeth for us to God. Angels worship with hierarchs, apostles rejoice with prophets, for the Theotokos prayeth for us to the Eternal God.
THE PROTECTION OF THE MOST-HOLY THEOTOKOS
From time immemorial, the Church has celebrated the Most-holy Theotokos as the patroness and protectress of the Christian people, who, by her intercessory prayers, implores God’s mercy for us sinners. The help of the Most-holy Mother of God has been clearly shown numerous times, to individuals and to nations, in peace and in war, in monastic deserts and in densely populated cities. The event that the Church commemorates and celebrates today confirms the Theotokos’ consistent protection of Christian people. On October 1, 911 A.D., during the reign of Emperor Leo the Wise, there was an All-night Vigil in the Blachernae Church of the Mother of God in Constantinople. The church was full of people. St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ was standing in the rear of the church with his disciple Epiphanius. At four o’clock in the morning, the Most-holy Theotokos appeared above the people, holding her omophorion outstretched as a protective covering for the faithful. She was clothed in gold-encrusted purple, and shone with an ineffable radiance, surrounded by apostles, saints, martyrs and virgins. St. Andrew said to Blessed Epiphanius: “Do you see, brother, the Queen and Lady of all praying for the whole world?” Epiphanius replied: “I see, Father, and am struck with amazement!” The Feast of the Protection was instituted to commemorate this event, and to remind us that we can prayerfully receive the unceasing protection of the Most-holy Theotokos in any time of difficulty.
THE HOLY APOSTLE ANANIAS
Ananias was one of the Seventy Apostles. He was bishop in Damascus. In accordance with God’s revelation (Acts 9:10-17), he baptized Saul (the Apostle Paul). Because of his courageous preaching of the Gospel he was stoned to death in the town of Eleutheropolis. His holy relics were taken to Damascus and later to Constantinople.
THE VENERABLE ROMANUS THE MELODIST
Romanus was born in the Syrian town of Emesa. He was, at first, a sexton in Beirut, and later served in the cathedral church in Constantinople in the time of Patriarch Euthymius (490-504 A.D.). Romanus was not well educated and was untrained in chanting, for which he was ridiculed by some of the more educated clergy. St. Romanus tearfully prayed to the Most-holy Theotokos, and she appeared to him in a dream, gave him a scroll, and told him to swallow it. The following day was the Feast of the Nativity. Romanus took his place as a chanter at the ambo, and with an angelic voice sang the hymn “Today the Virgin….” All were amazed at both the content of this hymn and at the magnificent singing of the chanter. Having received the poetic gift from the Theotokos, Romanus composed over a thousand Kontakia. Romanus entered into rest as a deacon of the Great Church, Hagia Sophia, in Constantinople. He joined the angelic choirs in the year 510 A.D.