“REJOICE! O Pure One, higher than the Heavens…” (Akathist Hymn)

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST1 HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

"Rejoice! O Pure One, higher than the Heavens, Rejoice!
You, who bore without effort the Foundation of the Earth.
Rejoice! O Seashell that dyed the Divine crimson robe for
the King of the Heavenly Powers" (Troparion – Akathist Hymn)

The "Akathist Hymn" ("unseated hymn") is a solemn hymn dedicated to a particular Saint, feast-day, or one of the Persons of the Holy Trinity. The name derives from the fact that during the chanting of the hymn, the faithful are standing throughout the divine service out of reverence. This specific Akathis Hymn is dedicated to the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary and chanted during five Fridays of Holy and Great Lent. Orthodox Churches follow the Tradition of the Church and conduct the Akathist as a spiritual preparation for the Holy and Great Week and Paschal divine services.

The Akathist Hymn was written during the 17th century for the Holy Feast of the Evaggelismos (Annunciation) of the Mother of God. The authentic Greek version consists of 24 oikoi, each one beginning with the next letter of the alphabet. If was formerly recited in the year 626 A.D. in the church of the Theotokos of Vlachernae in Constantinople on the occasion of the deliverance of Constantinople from the Avars and the Persians who attacked the city and besieged it.

Patriarch of Constantinople Sergius led the terrified faithful in a great procession around the walls of the city, chanting and bearing holy icons of our Lord Jesus Christ and of the Theotokos. Strengthened by their devotion and aided by a great tempest that sprang up and wrecked many of the enemy ships, the faithful sallied forth and put the barbarians to flight. The Orthodox Christian believers attributed this miracle to the Mother of God.

In thanksgiving the devout Orthodox Christians gathered in the Great Cathedral of Agia Sofia (dedicate to the Wisdom of God) and stood (akathistoi) the whole night, chanting hymns of thanksgiving and praise. This hymn is chanted on one of the first four Fridays during Holy and Great Lent. On the fifth Friday evening, the entire hymn is chanted.

The Akathist Hymn is known by the first three words of its proimion (preamble), Te Ypermacho Stratego (Τη υπερμάχω στρατηγώ), "To thee, invincible Champion") dedicated to the Theotokos and "The All-Holy Birth-giver of God").

With the dogma of the Son of God’s becoming man is closely bound up the naming of the Most Holy Virgin Mary as THEOTOKOS (Birth-giver of God). By this name the Orthodox Church confirms its faith that God the Logos/Word became Man truly and not merely in appearance; a faith that, in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, God was joined to Man from the very instant of His conception in the womb of the Ever-Virgin Mary, and that He, being perfect Man, is also perfect God.

At the same time, the name of Theotokos is the highest name that exalts or glorifies the Ever-Virgin Mary. The name "Theotokos" has a direct foundation in Holy Scripture. The Holy Apostle Paul writes: "When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of woman" (Galatians 4:4) Here is expressed the truth that a woman gave birth to the Son of God. Also, "God was manifest in the flesh" (1 Timothy 3:16): the flesh was woven for God the Logos/Word by the Most Holy Virgin Mary.

According to Our Holy Orthodox Church, the Most Holy Virgin was born as subject to the sin of Adam together with all mankind, and with him she shared the need for redemption. ("Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs," par. 6). The pure and immaculate life of the Virgin Mary up to the Annunciation by the Archangel, her freedom from personal sins, was the fruit of the union of her spiritual labor upon herself and the abundance of Grace that was poured out upon her. "Thou hast found Grace with God," the Archangel said to her in his greeting: "thou has found," that is, attained, acquired, earned. The Most Holy Virgin Mary was prepared by the best part of mankind as a worthy vessel for the descent of God the Logos/Word to earth. The coming down of the Holy Spirit ("the Holy Spirit shall come upon thee") totally sanctified the womb of the Virgin Mary for the reception of the God the Logos/Word. (Orthodox Dogmatic Theology)

The Theotokos is humanity’s greatest Advocate before her Son and God Jesus Christ. She is man’s heavenly Mother who unceasingly intercedes for our forgiveness and salvation.

OUR PRAYER TO THE EVER-VIRGIN MARY, THE THEOTOKOS
(Chanted before her holy icon at the end of the Akathist Hymn)

O spotless, undefiled, incorruptible, chaste, and pure Virgin-Bride of God, who by Your wondrous conception united
God, who by Your wondrous conception united God the Logos with man, and joined ou fallen nature with the Heavens;
the only hope of the hopeless and the help of the persecuted, the ever-ready to rescue all that flee unto You and the
refuge of all Christians, spurn me not, the branded sinner, who by shameful thoughts, words and deeds, has made my
whole being useless, and through indolence has enslaved my judgment to the pleasures of this life. But as the Mother of
the Merciful God, mercifully show compassion unto me, the sinner and prodigal, and accept my supplication which is
offered from impure lips unto You.

With Your maternal approach entreat Your Son, Our Lord and Master to open for me the merciful depths of His Loving-
Kindness; and overlooking my countless transgressions, guide me to repentance and show me forth as a worthy
worker of His Commandments. As You are merciful, compassionate, and gentle, be at my side; and in this present life. be
my fervent protectress and helper, thwarting the assaults of the adversaries, and leading me to salvation; and in the hour
of passing take care of my wretched soul, and cast far away the dark faces of demons. And at the Dreadful Day of Judgment,
deliver me from eternal punishment, and prove me an heir of the Ineffable Glory of Your Son, and our God.

May this, glory be my share, O my Lady, Most Holy Theotokos through Your mediation and help, by the Grace and mercy
of Your Only-Begotten Son Our Lord and God, and Savior Jesus Christ; to Whom is the All-Glory, Honor, and Worship,
together with His Eternal Father and His All-Holy and Good and Life-giving Spirit now and ever and unto Ages of Ages.
Amen.

_________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

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