If it were not for the Most Holy, we would not have had the Church, nor the Saints, nor the salvation

A word by the Very Reverend Archimandrite Fr. Antipas, Elder of the St. Anna skete in Karyes, Mount Athos, for the feast of the Introduction of the Most Holy Theotokos to the Temple, delivered at the end of last night’s vigil at the monastery of the Most Pure Theotokos in Kichevo, on December 4, 2023 AD

In addition to all that our Most Reverend and Holy Bishop Fr. Parthenius said, according his wish, I will say only a few of my own simple thoughts.

Faced with the mystery and the majesty of Theotokos, it is true that even the Saints and the great orators of the Church were speechless. As we state in a literal sense, their tongues were tied before the majesty of the Most Holy. Therefore, filled with much humility, I will say, as I mentioned at the beginning, only a few of my simple thoughts.

If it were not for the Most Holy, my brothers and sisters, we would not have known the mystery of the Holy Trinity, we would not have known who the true God is.

If it were not for the Most Holy, God would not have come to Earth, to become Man.

If it were not for the Most Holy, God would not have come to Earth, to become Man.

If it were not for the Most Holy, we would not have had the birth of the God-man; we would not have His teaching, His miracles, His Crucifixion, and most importantly – His Resurrection.

If it were not for the Most Holy, we would not have had the fulfilled prophesies of the righteous and the prophets of the Old Testament, who prophesied about Her, nor would we have the Holy Apostles.

If it were not for the Most Holy, the Holy Spirit would not have descended, and we would not have the Church

 If it were not for the Most Holy, we would not have Saints.

In a word: if it were not for the Most Holy, no one could be saved.

The Holy Fathers identify the Theotokos with the Church: the Most Holy is the Church, because She carried for nine months in Her pure womb the One who is the Creator of all.

St. Gregory Palamas says that all creation, all creation happened because of the Most Holy. The same Saint also says that God gives all the gifts to people and to the Angels through the Theotokos. Furthermore, the ages prepared Her, the Lady Theotokos, that is, in other simpler words, God waited a long time to find the purest person on Earth, who would lend Him his flesh. And again, St. Gregory Palamas said that the almighty God can do everything, but He cannot unite with the impure man. No one was found to be this pure before the birth of our Most Holy, nor, after She left the world, there was anyone as pure as Her. In the praises to Her we chant that She is higher than the Angels and purer than the sun’s rays. That is why all the Saints claim that without the Most Holy there is no one who would be saved. St. Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople, in one of his words addressed to the Most Holy says: “There is no such thing as a saved one if not through You, Theotokos! No one is filled with the Holy Spirit without You”. And St. John of Damascus, that great theologian who has written many famous words for the Most Holy, says: “What can be sweeter than the Mother of God?!”

But let me go forward, past the present event, the Introduction, because the Most Reverend already spoke about it, and look into the life of the Most Holy after the Ascension of Christ, according to tradition. You probably have noticed that the Most Holy lived quietly and silently beside Christ our Lord. The tradition of our Church says that after the Ascension of Christ, the Most Holy was the support and comfort of the Apostles. Although She didn’t have to, She lived as an ascetic, with abstinence and with unceasing prayer. And as tradition says, She cared for the poor, for the hungry and – it is said – “She prayed incessantly, to strengthen the first Church”. Some of you have probably gone to Jerusalem – those who have not been, may God grant you to go – visit the so-called Little Galilee on the Mount of Olives. There they show the indentations in the marble that the knees of the Most Holy made from Her constant kneeling in prayer. There the present iconographers do not show it very much today, but centuries ago Saint Andrew of Jerusalem, the Archbishop of Crete, mentions it and speaks of those indentations that existed in his time, and were made by the kneeling of our Most Holy. In the first Church our Most Holy always remains silent, although She could as the Mother of God have the first word. However, She followed the Apostles, who met and held the famous First Apostolic Council, at which they appointed, not Peter, nor John, who were said to be pillars of the Church, but Saint James, as the first Bishop of Jerusalem. I am telling you this, to point out that our Most Holy is the first, par excellence, teacher of ecclesiastical ethos, which, unfortunately, is lacking in our time. She showed respect, absolute respect, and if you allow me – complete obedience to the first Church.

Before I tell you two more words, allow me to thank from all my soul the Most Reverend Bishop of Antania and our holy Elder Mr. Parthenius, who had the kindness to invite me to come here from the Holy Mountain, to be with you yesterday and today. I want to thank the Elder and the sisters for their hospitality, as well as all the fathers, and all of you, who have listened to our humble word with great attention. I want you to keep always in mind what I am about to tell you now. I am telling you as a monk, blessed by God to live for a number of years on that sacred land:

– The more we love the Mother of God, the more secure is our salvation. The more we serve the Mother of God with love and reverence (of course, we serve God, but by economy we could say the same for the Mother of God), the more certain it is that we will unite with Her Son. I wish you that from all of my soul.