The First Akathist to the Heavenly Queen Mother

Rejoice, for thou art the throne of the King. Rejoice, for thou bearest the Bearer of all. Rejoice, thou star, announcing the sun. Rejoice, womb, of the divine incarnation. Rejoice, O Bride Unwedded!

The time of the Great Lenten prayer, which these days like penitential sighs was torn from the soul, we crown with the most beautiful verse of praise, addressed to Her Who bore God to us and opened the path of salvation to mankind – the most holy, most pure, most praised Lady, our Mother of God and ever-Virgin Mary. As the beautiful hymns emerge from our grateful hearts, we cannot help but think what love for Her was carried within by the church poet who composed these thanksgiving verses with such filial, immense love. And indeed, could there be a more fitting time to address to the All-Gracious such magnificent words of praise than these holy days of Great Lent, when with our entire being we feel the proximity of Christ. Who has endowed us with this blessedness if not She, the Blessed Mother of God? And how can our hearts not thank Her, how can they not weave a wreath of praises, exclaiming:

Rejoice, thou purification of the entire world. Rejoice, thou favor of God towards mortals. Rejoice, thou boldness of mortals towards God.

Yes, such was this first Akathist Hymn greeting that in our monastic communities attracted many faithful participants in the communal praise to the Virgin. The souls of those present, in the Forerunner’s temple, deeply felt every verse of praise that flowed from the soul of our beloved Elder, Bishop of Antanis, Mr. Partenij. And as the praises for the God-blessed flowed from his lips, so grew the influx of tenderness and tearful thanksgiving that elevated all upwards. And She, to Whom all glory is due, takes these our tender prayers and lifts them up and presents them to Her Son as the most beautiful gift, pleading for us gracious support and strength for the Lenten endeavor. And when She does not tire in Her intercession for us, how can we cease to address praises to Her, how can we extinguish the longing in our heart for constant glorification?! He who has truly connected with his most beloved Christ as with a Bridegroom, cannot but have in his heart His holy Mother. For how can we love the sweet fruit, and not honor the vine that produced that fruit? How can we seek the Kingdom, and forget the key that opens that Kingdom? How not to sing praises to the Dawn that heralds the most beautiful Day, or the dwelling that housed the most precious Guest? Therefore, today, the love-enflamed monastic hearts, on this first akathist praise to the Mother of our God, translated into the words of the Akathist all that had been smoldering in their souls over these past few days, all the most tender feelings of endless loyalty to the Heavenly Queen and Her Son:

Rejoice, thou heavenly ladder, by which God descended. Rejoice, thou bridge leading earthlings to Heaven. Rejoice, thou the angels’ greatly marveled wonder. Rejoice, thou much-lamented wound of demons… Rejoice, thou who exceedest the knowledge of the wise. Rejoice, thou who enlightenest the minds of the faithful. Rejoice, O Bride Unwedded.

May She be with us in this Lenten journey, enlightening our thoughts, leading us to repentance, lovingly bearing our neighbors, and teaching us in fervent prayer that purifies hearts and sanctifies souls! Amen.