My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
"THE GARDEN OF THE MOST HOLY MOTHER OF GOD"
The Holy Mountain is known to the Orthodox Christian World as "the Garden of the Most Holy Mother of God" who is "THE JOY OF ALL", "THE PROTECTION OF CHRISTIANS", "FERVENT INTERCESSOR AND UNASSAILABLE WALL, FOUNT OF MERCY AND REFUGE FOR THE WORLD".
There is a close relationship and link between the Holy Mountain and the Mother of God. I shall set out briefly some points that demonstrate this close association.
Her Living Presence
The Mother of God rules over the Holy Mountain, which is OUT OF BOUNDS TO WOMEN, as A LIVING PRESENCE. Perhaps women should not complain about being unable to visit the Holy Mountain, because there, the Mother of God, WHO IS THE TRUE MODEL FOR EVERY WOMAN, EVERY HUMAN BEING, IS TRULY HONORED. Nowhere else on earth is so much honor given TO A DEIFIED WOMAN, or so much incense offered up in love and affection to her, as on the Holy Mountain. Indeed, as the Most Holy Virgin loves in return all who love her, there is nowhere else where we encounter her own love and tenderness so abundantly poured out as on the Holy Mountain. The love of the Athonite Fathers for the Most Holy Mother of God witness to the overcoming of the divisions between male and female…
"… The love of the monks of the Holy Mountain for the Holy Most Holy Virgin reveals the relationship that will exist between human beings in the age to come when their bodies will become spiritual and they will live like the Angels. It is an eschatological experience and expectation. Because of this devout women often say, "It is a good thing that the Holy Mountain is out of bounds to us, as it is the only place where a woman is revered as a person, as the image and likeness of God, in the person of the Mother of God."
All over the Holy Mountain, the Most Holy Mother of God makes HER PRESENCE FELT. We feel her gentle caress, her love, and tenderness, her fragrance, and her motherly love. The Fathers of the Holy Mountain, who keep constant vigil as the sentinels of her Garden, are especially aware of this.
The 1985 calendar of the Monastery of Xeropotamou shows many holy icons of the Most Holy Mother of God, with the elaborate titles ascribed to her, each one relating to a particular miraculous intervention. In the Monastery of the Great Lavra are the holy icons called "Koukouzelissa" (named after a chanter) and " The Stewardess". In the Monastery of Vatopedi: "The Foundress" or "The Sacristan", "The Consolation", "She Who was Wounded", "The Oil-Giver", "The Victim of the Shot". In the Monastery of Iviron: "She Who guards the Gate". In the Monastery of Chilandari: "Withe Three Hands", "The Milk-Giver". In the Monastery of Dionysiou: "The Holy Virgin of the Angelic Salutations" or "The Myrrh-Giver". In the Monastery of Koutloumousiou: "The Awe-Inspiring Protection". In the Monastery of Pantokrator: "The Eldress". In the Monastery of Zographou: "The One Foretold" or "Of the Akathist", "She Who Listens". In the Monastery of Docheiariou: "She Who is Swift to Hear". In the Monastery of Philotheou: "The Sweet Kissing". In the Monastery of Saint Paul: "The Myrrh-Giver". In the Monastery of Xenophontos: "She Who Shows the Way". In the Monastery of Kostamonitou: "She Who Stands Surety". the
The Mother of God’s Promise
The love of the holy Fathers is not of human and psychological origin but is a revelation of the Mother of God herself, especially those who would dwell there and call upon the grace of Her Son. The promise was given to Saint Peter the Athonite, the first inhabitant of the Holy Mountain, as recorded by Saint Gregory Palamas. The fact that this revelation of the Most Holy Virgin was given to a holy man and preserved by a holy Father of the Church, Saint Gregory Palamas, is a sign of the reliability of the revelation.
The Most Holy Mother of God said to Saint Peter the Athonite:
"There is a mountain in Europe, very beautiful and very large, facing south and extending far out in the sea. This place I HAVE CHOSEN OUT OF THE WHOLE EARanTH AND DECIDED TO GIVE IT TO THE MONKS AS A SUITABLE PLACE TO DWELL. SO I HAVE DEDICATED IT TO MYSELF AS A PERSONAL HABITATION, AND FROM NOW IT WILL BE CALLED HOLY. I will champion throughout their lives those who take up the struggle there against the common enemy (Satan) of men, and I shall always be their invincible ally, a guide as to what they should do, an interpreter of what they should not do, protectress, physician, provider of all the nourishment and medical treatment you wish, as much as it is necessary to sustain and benefit the body and to awaken and empower the soul and not let it fall away from the good. Moreover, I will urge my Son and God to give perfect forgiveness of their sins to all those who end their lives well here."
When we study the lives and teachings of the Athonite Fathers, and when we meet contemporary monks from the Holy Mountain, we hear many accounts of appearances of the Mother of God and of her protection…
"… The Mother of God lived the mystery of SELF-EMPTYING IN HER LIFE, BY REMAINING IN HESYCHIA AND PRAYER in the Holy of Holies but also throughout her later life, which was connected with the incarnation of the Logos/Word of God. She lived the mystery in her humility at the conception of Christ and her silence at His birth, through taking up her own cross during the whole of Christ’s life, culminating on Golgotha, but also through Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension and the coming of the Parakletos. She stayed at the center of the Church in utter silence. Her self-emptying and deification (theosis) accorded to her with the self-emptying of the Son and Logos/Word of God, which is why she proved to be "THE BOUNDRY BETWEEN CREATED AND UNCREATED NATURE", according to Saint Gregory Palamas. (Source: Orthodox Monasticism as the Way of Life of Prophets, Apostles, and Martyrs by Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George