Today the Virgin stands in the midst of the Church
and with choirs of saints she invisibly prays to God for us.
Angels and bishops worship,
apostles and prophets rejoice together,
since for our sake she prays to the pre-eternal God.
Today is the feast of the Protection of the Mother of God. No British saints today, and I am sorry to be missing the Liturgy for this feast, one of the most important in the Russian calendar after the Twelve Great Feasts, so at least I will find out about it. Pity Ancient Faith Radio is on the new calendar! This is the feast which inspired John Tavener’s composition The Protecting Veil.
- There is a slightly Ruglish but rather good version of the story of Andrew and Euphronios’ vision here.
- Here is what Fr Stephen of Glory to God for All Things has to say about Pokrov.
- Wikipedia has quite an article on it.
- Orthodoxwiki has some more.
There is a similar Western image of Mary, the Virgin of Mercy – or in German, die Schutzmantelmadonna. She may be depicted as sheltering under her cloak either the whole of humanity or particular groups or individuals. The Eastern and Western traditions do not seem to have common origins, but the Mother of God intercedes for us all (yes she does!).
I have found a brilliant thing from the ROCOR parish of the Protection of the Mother of God in Rochester, NY – not only the text of the morning and evening prayers but a sound file! (go to e.g. Morning Prayers (English), and near the top at the right is a discreet little icon labelled ‘ download sound file’. NB Morning Prayers are 20 mins exactly, and don’t navigate away from that page, the sound file does not run from a popup.)
How wonderful is this for those of us who usually live and pray alone! Of course it’s not the same as praying with a real person but there is a very different internal dynamic when there is another voice saying the prayers too, even if it’s a recorded voice. (This brings up lots of interesting questions…) I find I’m easily distracted, and although I have memorised some of the prayers, the whole thing does not flow (yet). Stumbling, and having to use a book, are not good. May this help to direct and concentrate – and learn – my prayers! I will use it and see how it helps. Maybe having my computer just below my shelf of icons is not necessarily quite as inappropriate as I thought… Or to put it another way, it has to be in that less than ideal place, so at least it should be some positive use there.
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.