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Greek CommunityGreek ChurchLet Us Run to the Panagia

Let Us Run to the Panagia

Hellenic News
Hellenic News
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Hello, everyone! It’s been a little while since I have posted something, but I think today is an appropriate time to start again. Today we begin the period of the Dormition Fast in the Orthodox Church, the beautiful Δεκαπενταύγουστο. We are entering into a two-week period of opportunities for increased prayer, fasting, reflection, and good works –  with a call for repentance, a call to change our way of life and bring ourselves closer to God and His Church and to one another, with the Panagia as our wonderful guide.  On August 15, we celebrate the great feast of the Dormition, the Falling Asleep of the Virgin Mary. In preparation for this feast, our Holy Church offers us the opportunity during these two weeks of also attending daily Paraklesis services to the Panagia, which are services of supplication that ask for strength, help, and prayers from the Mother of our God.  

Since Christ is our Brother, the Panagia is our Mother.  She is a Mother that will never ever abandon us, a Mother that will nourish us with her love and care, a Mother with compassion that  knows no bounds.  She is there for us, prepared with outstretched arms to assist us in our burdens and struggles, in our pain and suffering, ever-ready to wipe away tears from our eyes and give us comfort.  The Panagia is always reminding us that we are never alone.   She reminds that God is not there to just make every single problem go away at the snap of a finger, but is always there to give us strength and comfort. How amazing indeed is that strength and comfort!

Miracles happen all the time and cannot be denied.  The Panagia, through God’s grace, has performed countless miracles up until this very day and moment.  The miraculous icons of our Lady that exist throughout the Orthodox world are many.  Their stories warm the heart. The testimonies of people who were and are psychologically sound witnesses to the numerous interventions of the Theotokos in the life of the faithful. Greek history, and Orthodox Christian history in general, has pages and pages and pages of such occurrences for the past 2000 years. 

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Yet we must remember, difficult as it may be, that each person has at some point in their lives a Cross to bear, whether it is a small one or a big one.  Christ Himself never did anything wrong or anything to deserve suffering, pain, and rejection and yet He experienced all of that and a most humiliating death at that.  The Panagia, although conceived and born in sin because she is a human being, committed no personal sin.  She is the holiest of all the Saints, even holier than the Angels themselves.  She is the closest person to God, being His Mother. Yet, the Panagia endured hardships and the nightmare of seeing her only Son humiliated and dying on the Cross.  She did nothing wrong to deserve this.  We can receive strength from this, because our God understands that life just sucks sometimes. Christ shows us by His actions that we must not lose hope though! Behind our crucifixions, there are resurrections! The Panagia most especially, but all of the Saints, the friends of God, remind us of this. The lives of the Saints were not a walk in the park. Yet they all, and the Panagia, in particular, experienced true joy!

The Panagia points us to Christ. She is the Directress, the Οδηγήτρια, who leads us to the Lord. We can learn so much from her humility, her obedience to the will of God for her life, her strong faith, and her love for God and others.  The Panagia loved, despite persecutions, despite slanders and gossip, despite cruelties.  She loved God, even in the dark times in her life, when she witnessed the suffering and death of her only Son. To this very day though, the Panagia continues to be with us in times of distress and sorrow.  She never forgets us, even if we are beaten to the ground.  The Church chants during Paraklesis: “For those in great sorrow you are joy, and for the oppressed, a protection.”  Her love is witnessed to by so many people to this very day. She shows to us that it is indeed possible as a human being to live the life in Christ. 

Η Παναγία είναι η Μάνα του Ελληνικού λαού,  She is the Mother of the Greek people and of all Orthodox Christians.  She remains a pillar for us of truth and love, remaining loyal to the Truth and Love Incarnate, Jesus Christ. We Greeks, and Orthodox Christians in general, place a great emphasis on family.  Therefore, we must not forget our Mother, the Panagia. Christ told Saint John the Evangelist and Apostle while hanging on the Cross, “Behold your mother” (John 19: 27, NKJV)!   When Christ did this, He also was directing that beautiful statement to all of us. Behold our Mother! She is not only Saint John‘s Mother from now on, but the Mother of all of us. “And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:27, NKJV).  Let us to do the same.  Let us bring the Panagia into our homes, into our hearts and souls, into our daily lives. Where the Panagia is, there is Christ….there is the Holy Spirit and the Christian way of life. Like Saint Anthimos of Chios, a modern day Saint of our Church who reposed in 1960, used to say: “Let us run to the Panagia in every circumstance, to ask her, to have her as our aid.”

Καλή Παναγιά!

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