August 23, 2023

The Panagia, the Holy One of the Holies (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafaktos)

 By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Today is a feast of our Panagia, my beloved brethren, and this is an event of special joy and spiritual gladness. Today, together with the resurrection of Christ, since it is Sunday, we also celebrate our Panagia who gave her body to Christ.

In all the Sundays of the Summer during the liturgical short sermons we analyzed those things related to holiness and the various categories of Saints. But all the Saints, Prophets, Apostles, Fathers, Martyrs, Venerables and all the Saints in general, were surpassed by the most-praised person our Panagia. All the Saints prophesied her, praised her, glorified her, honored her.

In the Akathist Hymn, we turn to the Panagia and say to her: "Rejoice, holy one, greater than the holies." She is the greatest of all saints. After all, the term "Panagia" (All-Holy) indicates this. And in fact, Saint Gregory Palamas says that the Panagia is "the pinnacle and completion of all the saints." The Panagia is the summit of every saint, holier than every saint, but also the completion of the saints, from the point of view that the Panagia was the joy of all the saints, because through her Christ became human.

According to the teaching of the holy Fathers, the Panagia did not commit any sin in her life, not even with her thoughts. Her mind, her heart, her desires, her body, all were pure and clean. Saint Gregory Palamas says that with the incarnation, not only God came to us, but He also came "from the pure and holy Virgin, rather most-all-pure and most-holy." And he continues that the Panagia was not only above all the defilement of the flesh, but she was also above the thoughts that come from the flesh. Even the body of the Theotokos was purer than the spirits of the saints.

Such was and is the purity of our Panagia that no one can contemplate the height of her majesty. A troparion that refers to the Panagia is characteristic: "All tongues are at a loss to praise you properly; and every mind, even though transcending the world, is distracted in your praise, O Theotokos." That is, every tongue becomes weak when it wants to praise the Panagia, and every mind, not only of humans, but also that of the supernatural angels, becomes dizzy and darkened when it tries to praise the Panagia. Just as man is darkened and feels dizzy when he sees every height and depth, so the purest nous, of men and angels, feels darkened and dizzy when he beholds the face of the Panagia.

Despite her purity and cleanness, she is not cut off from the human race, but has a great love for man, has "Mother of God bowels", that is, she has bowels of mercy as the Mother of God and as our own mother. She has the highest privilege to be the person who gave her flesh to the Son and Word of God, but at the same time to come from our own race, the human race.

Always, especially today, on this great day, we contemplate her astounding person and ask for her intercessions. We feel that we have nothing in common with her, since she was pure to the finest point of her thoughts, while we daily commit many sins. And in our dizziness and from our sins and from the sight of this great person, we ask her for her love, her support, her intercessions.

I wish you all a many and blessed years. May you have the intercessions of our Panagia throughout your life. May the Panagia protect you, your families, our country and the whole world. And may she pray for our repentance, as well as become our mediator on the great day of Judgment.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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