Sermon on the Feast of the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God

In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! When a person embarks on an unknown and distant path, he takes an experienced travel guide as a companion and confides in him. Despite the dangers of the road, he reaches his destination safely, thanks to his guide. It is so in everyday life and in the spiritual life when pious Christians entrust their lives to experienced guides, their heavenly protectors.

The spiritual path of a Christian who strives to save his soul is thorny and full of dangers, which is why he needs guidance. Pious Christians have recourse to many saints who please God, but especially to the Sovereign Queen of Heaven, the Most Pure Virgin Mary, to whose protection they entrust their lives from their earliest years until their last moments. In the years of childhood and youth, man encounters thousands of seductions, various temptations, incorrect upbringing, loss of parents and illnesses. All this can destroy life at its very beginning, and its flowering can fade forever. Therefore, pious parents are wise to entrust their children from an early age to the protection of the Most Pure Theotokos. History knows many examples where the Mother of God saved children from danger.

The period of life when a person reaches adulthood is not easier – how many toils, pains, diseases and dangers oppress both soul and body, ready with their weight to crush the weak human creation if it were not for the protection of the Mother of God and her help!

The years go by. And then, while gazing reverently Breakthrough into eternityThe resurrection of Christ justifies human life and at the same time gives it meaning.

“>Eternity, the sin-laden soul comes to repentance, and a sense of fear and trembling so overwhelms it that it burns as in fire, finding no rest. And only tears shed with a sense of living faith before the image of the Fervent Intercessor can dispel the surrounding darkness and restore him to a blessed state of mind, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Orthodox Christians, by virtue of the great and tender mercy of the Mother of God, called her by various names: “She who is quick to hear”, “Joy of all who suffer”, “Search for the lost”, ” Unexpected Joy”; similarly, it is called the “Way Shower”. Today we celebrate the feast in honor of the icon that bears this name.

The icon of the Mother of God called “Way Shower” (Gr.: Hodigitria), was, according to tradition, painted by the holy Evangelist Luke, and before the triumph of Christianity in the Greco-Roman nations, it was located in Jerusalem. When the Christian faith triumphed, the “Way Shower” was brought to Constantinople, where the Greek Emperor often took her on campaigns against her enemies and with her would be victorious. The Greek Emperor Constantine Monomachos blessed his daughter Anna with it in 1046 when he gave her in marriage to Prince Vsevolod of Chernigov. In the 12th century, Vsevolod’s son Vladimir Monomakh |  Sermon on the Feast of the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God |  news from paradiseAppearance of the icon of the Mother of God “the headmistress of Smolensk” from ConstantinopleThe Smolensk “Hodigitria” icon of the Theotokos, or “She who opens the way”, was, according to Church tradition, painted by the holy Evangelist Luke during the earthly life of the Most Holy Theotokos. The Holy Hierarch Demetrius of Rostov suggests that this icon was written at the request of Theophilus, the prefect of Antioch.

“> transferred this icon from Chernigov to Smolensk, therefore the icon is called the Smolensk Icon. There it was placed in the Cathedral Church in honor of the Dormition of the Mother of God , and it was there later, when the army of Khan Batiy of the Horde advanced on Smolensk, that the icon manifested its grace-filled miraculous power.

Finding themselves on the brink of destruction, the residents of Smolensk gathered in the cathedral in front of the icon “Hodigitria” and prayed with tears to the Mother of God for help and intercession. They imposed a strict fast on themselves and repented, confessing their sins and asking for forgiveness. At midnight, the sexton heard a voice from the icon saying: “Go and tell my servant Mercurius to come to church in military uniform”. When Private Mercurius arrived, he heard from the icon: “Mercurius, who pleases me! The leader of the Horde wants to attack my city tonight with his entire army, but I have prayed to my Son and my God that he will not make it a slave to the enemy. Go secretly away from everyone and meet the enemy, and by the power of Christ you will be victorious. I myself will be you, helping you. But with the victory, a martyr’s crown also awaits you. Mercurius did as he was told: he slew the giant warrior on whom the Tatars had more hope than on their whole army, and he struck down the forces of Batiy with the help of lightning-bearing men and in the presence of the Radiant Lady, whose majestic face frightened enemies; but Mercurius himself fell in battle.

In the XIV century, the “Hodigitria” was brought to Moscow. Centuries later, the residents of Smolensk demanded that the icon be returned to their city. It was brought solemnly, with a cross procession from Moscow, and final prayers before it was raised to Devichy Field. Later, the Novodevichy Convent was built not far from where Muscovites said goodbye to the icon.

Celebrating today, my beloved, the glorification of the Mother of God, we must for our own edification also remember her moral virtues by which she pleased God.

From her birth, the Virgin Mary distinguished herself by her unparalleled piety; she was chaste in body and mind, combining this marvelous angelic chastity with the greatest modesty in all things, the first sign of true innocence. She was very modest in her dress, her conversation, her look and her speech. She dressed decently, modestly, adorning herself not with plaited hair or golden garments, but with good deeds, in order to please the Lord.

Women should follow the example of the Mother of God and imitate her, for we often see that even Christian women come to church dressed indecently, partially exposing themselves and thus serving as a temptation to others. Women should watch not for fine clothes but for good deeds, as befits people who have devoted themselves to godliness.

Mary Most Holy was also distinguished by extraordinary humility and total devotion to the will of the Heavenly Father, with extraordinary magnanimity accepting whatever it pleased God’s will to send her. Even in those hours when she saw her beloved Son on the cross, when she experienced pains so inexpressible that no one born on earth had ever endured, even then she did not lose heart but endured with courage and constancy the test which was sent to him.

But the Most Holy Virgin was so devoted to the will of God, and so courageous was her soul, so compassionate and tender towards the people, who loved her with all their heart, that she acquired the love of the people. And we must imitate him in this.

Beloved brothers and sisters, let us wholeheartedly pray to the Queen of Heaven, that she too may guide us from earth to the eternal heavenly Kingdom, teaching us to sincerely love God and to fulfill his holy commandments, and keep us by her holy prayers from all evil; that having successfully lived through this age, we may be installed in eternal mansions and glorify to them his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ – to Him with the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory and praise forever and ever . Amen.

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