The Feast of the Presentation, celebrated with a blessing from Mount Athos in the Monastery of the Holy Virgin

If a tree is known by its fruit and if every good tree bears good fruit, how then does the Mother of Goodness herself and the Parent of eternal Beauty, not surpass all earthly and heavenly goods with her incomparable beauty and goodness?
(St. Gregory Palamas)

God, magnificent in His works, desired from the beginning of the ages to renew our nature and to unite His image – His Word – with our tarnished and fallen image. He desired to unite all that is heavenly and earthly, so that the Church of His Son might receive the fullness of life. Today the blessed fruit of Joachim and Anna, is offered as a pleasing sacrifice in the Temple of the Lord. The Heavenly Tabernacle steps towards the Holy of Holies, the Mother of Life enters the Temple, preparing to give birth to our Life. Today the ages-old mystery is fulfilled: the pre-eternal and consubstantial Word, which desired to unite us with Himself and to become in all things like us, extends His hand from heaven and introduces into the Temple, Her who will become His most worthy temple and who in her motherly arms will receive Him and present Him to the world as an Infant. Among all the daughters of mankind, He chose the purest and most virtuous Maiden, who from birth became the bearer of the immaculate human nature. She is the Ever-Virgin to whom today we offer our praises and whose entrance into the Holy of Holies we celebrate; She who was predestined by God for the salvation and renewal of our kind.

And how could our hearts not sing now the praises of the Pure Virgin Mary, through whom these ineffable mysteries of our salvation were accomplished! How should our mouths not glorify Her who blessed the entire human race with Her Birth! How should we not offer Her the most fragrant spiritual flowers, when She herself among all human kind became the most fragrant flower! She constantly pours out her motherly consolation upon us who are her monastic offspring, and fills our souls with abundant grace.

This year, on this magnificent feast, the Mother of God brought us a rare fragrant monastic flower from her Athonite garden: the humble Athonite Elder Antipas, the renowned spiritual father, lover of the Saints and preacher of powerful, God-inspired words, which elevate the soul to the realms of God’s wisdom and beauty. In fact, Elder Antipas arrived at the Holy Monastery of the Pure Virgin a day earlier, on Saturday, at the invitation of the monastic sisterhood together with the abbess Haritina and with the blessing of our beloved Elder, His Grace Bishop of Antania, Mr. Partenij. On Sunday, however, after the Divine Liturgy, Elder Antipas offered his love, transformed into a beautiful instructive and comforting homily about the purpose and essence of our life on Earth, preaching to the people gathered in the Holy Shrine of the Pure Virgin.

As a seal of his love and respect for the God-loving and saint-loving Bishop and our Elder, Mr. Partenij, Archimandrite Antipas presented him with honorable relics of ten God’s Saints: the Holy Martyrs Samon, Gurij and Aviv, St. Alexander Patriarch of Constantinople, St. Martyr Justin Philosopher, St. Paraskeva (of Rome), St. Barbara, St. Natalia, St. Christina and St. Lavr.

In the evening, however, on the very feast, carried by his filial love for the Mother of God, Elder Antipas celebrated the Cause of our joy with our beloved Elder, His Grace Bishop Antaniski, Mr. Partenij, with our monastic family, with the sisters nuns from the Monastery of St. John Chrysostom near Bitola, who arrived to our great joy, as well as with the multitude of faithful gathered in one spirit and in one love at the overnight vigil in her glorious Monastery near Kichevo. The vigil itself was a true grace-filled visit of the Queen of Angels, who with her motherly love entered the mysterious temple in every heart open to faith. And a beautiful verbal adornment to all that spiritual splendor were the beautiful words for the Queen Mother to her beloved children, the Antania Bishop Mr. Partenij and the Very Reverend Elder Mr. Antipas.