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Bishop Thomas 2017 Nativity of the Theotokos Greeting

September 8, 2017
Nativity of the Theotokos

Beloved brother Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, God-fearing Monastics,
and all my Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ our True God:

I greet you on this most joyous feast, the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos! On this day we pause and reflect upon the splendor and beauty of the Theotokos extolled in the words of Saint Gregory Palamas, “Indeed, to express the honor of the Virgin Bride as is her due, she did not just act as a mediator for certain chosen races, but, standing between God and every race of men, she made God the Son of man, and men the sons of God. She alone was shown to be the natural mother of God in a supernatural way, and by her indescribable child-bearing she became the Queen of the entire Creation in this world and beyond, for ‘all things were made by Him’ who was born of her, ‘and without him was not anything made that was made’ (John 1:3).”

Her protection and assistance have always been present in the Church and in the life of every Christian. Our affection and love for her should know no bounds. As Saint Porphyrios writes, “I very much love our Panagia. When I was young on the Holy Mountain I very much adored her. I had a small icon of the Panagia under my pillow. Morning and night I embraced her. I lived with her night and day. Whatever happened to me, I resorted to her. What can I tell you? She is better than a mother. There was nothing I wanted more. She had everything.”

Saint John the Wonderworker confirms this in noting, “Having experienced all the difficulties of earthly life, the Intercessor of the Christian race sees every tear, hears every groan and entreaty directed to her. Especially near to her are those who labor in the battle with the passions and are zealous for a God-pleasing life. But even in worldly cares she is an irreplaceable helper. ‘Joy of all who sorrow, and intercessor for the offended, and feeder of the hungry, consolation of travelers, harbor of the storm-tossed; visitation of the sick, protection and intercessor for the infirm, staff of old age, Thou art the Mother of God on high, O Most Pure One’ (Sticheron of the Service to the Hodigitria). ‘The hope and intercession and refuge of Christians,’ ‘The Mother of God unceasing in prayers’ (Theotokion of the Third Tone). ‘She day and night prays for us, and the scepters of kingdoms are confirmed by her prayers’ (daily Nocturns).”

What joy we possess in the birth of such a mother! She is “Quick to Hear,” the “Protecting Veil,” and “Comfort of the Afflicted.” Her birth signals our re-birth in Christ. Most Holy Theotokos save us!

Yours in Christ,

Rt. Rev. Bishop THOMAS (Joseph)
Auxiliary Bishop, Diocese of Oakland, Charleston, and the Mid-Atlantic

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