Today the faithful celebrate the feast with joy illumined by your coming, O Mother of God. Beholding your pure image we fervently cry to you: “Encompass us beneath the precious veil of your protection; deliver us from every form of evil by entreating Christ, your Son and our God that He may save our souls.
“My soul trembles and is afraid when I consider the glory of the Mother of God.
Small and of no account is my mind, poor and sickly my heart, but my soul rejoices and would fain set down if but a little concerning her. My soul fears to touch upon this matter but love constrains me not to conceal my thankfulness for her compassion.
The Mother of God committed to writing neither her thoughts nor her love for God and her Son, nor her soul’s suffering at the Crucifixion, because in any case we could not have understood, for her love for God is stronger and more ardent than the love of the Seraphim and Cherubim, and all the hosts of angels and archangels marvel at her.
An though the life of the Mother of God is hidden, as it were in a holy silence, our Lord allows our Orthodox Church to know that she embraces the whole world in this love of hers, and in the Holy Spirit sees all the peoples of the earth, and like her Son pities all men and has compassion on them.
O, if we might only know the love of the most holy Mother of God for all who keep the commandments of Christ, and how she pities and sorrows over sinners who do not reform! I had experience of this myself. Of a truth I say, speaking before God, Whom my soul knoweth: in spirit I know the Most Pure Virgin. I never beheld her but the Holy Spirit gave me to know her and her love for us. Were it not for her compassion I would have perished long ago but she was minded to come to me and enlighten me, so that I should not sin. This is what she said: ‘It is painful for me to look upon thee, at what thou doest.’ And her words, soft, quiet and gentle, wrought upon my soul. Over forty years have gone by since then but my soul can never forget those sweet words, and I know not what return to make for such love towards my sinful self, nor how to give thanks to the good and forbearing Mother of God.
Verily she is our advocate before God, and alone the sound of her name rejoices the soul. But all heaven and earth, too, rejoice in her love.
Here is a wondrous thing which passes understanding: she dwells in heaven and ever beholds the glory of God, yet she does not forget us, poor wretches that we are, and spreads her compassion over the whole earth, over all peoples.
And this most pure Mother of His, the Lord has bestowed on us. She is our joy and our expectation. She is our Mother in the spirit, and kin to us by nature, as a human being, and every Christian soul leaps to her in love.”
Saint Silouan the Athonite