The Church gives particular honor to St. John, the most righteous Forerunner and Baptist (after the All-Holy Theotokos). In fact, if we look at the iconostasis, we can see his icon placed next to the Lord’s. The Lord honored him in a special way, with the greatest declaration possible for a human being: “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11). God had given him the mission to preach repentance among the people, and to baptize the repentant in the Jordan River. There, in the desert of the Jordan, John lived a strict life of asceticism, “clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey” (Mark 1:6). We are amazed by his austere way of life, for which he was called “an angel on earth and a heavenly man”!

In the Synaxarion for the Feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, there is a particularly moving account written there. At the age of about 50, The Holy Virgin received a divine message that in three days, she would depart for Heaven. She then invited her relatives and neighbors to her home in order to reveal this message and to say goodbye. It was a surprise to them, and naturally, there were many tears. The Virgin Mary comforted them, saying that she would intercede for not only them, but for the whole world. This is evident in the countless blessings that the intervention of Our Lady has brought for all those suffering and asking her help.

Mary, the Most Holy Theotokos, is central in Orthodox worship. The Church consistently seeks the intercession of the Most Holy one, presenting her to the faithful as an example of humility, holiness, faith and devotion to her Son and God, Jesus Christ. Additionally, our All Holy Mother is also a supreme example in how she prepared for her departure from earth to Heaven.

In the Divine Services of our Church, one of our frequent requests to God is to teach us His "statutes". The term "statutes" or “ordinances” of God is found in both the Old and the New Testaments. We read for example in the very beginning of the Holy Gospel according to Luke (1:6) that ”Zacharias and Elizabeth walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord”. The Orthodox Church has drawn from the Bible the rich terminology of its common worship and thus, naturally, it also adopted the term "statutes" of God. Every day in the Matins, in the Vespers and in the Small Compline we repeat: “Blessed are you, Lord, teach me your statutes”. It is the 12th verse of Psalm 119 (LXX, 118). The very same verse is sung repeatedly in the Evlogitaria – the blessings of resurrection – in Matins of Sunday; in the Funeral Evlogitaria of Saturday; and especially in the Great Doxology, which we read daily at the end of Matins. This request to the Lord is repeated three times:

In the third Prayer of the Matins service the Priest pleads with God to “teach us, Oh God, Your righteousness, Your commandments and Your ordinances …” We often address similar petitions to God in our common worship services; and this, according to the Lord’s commandment, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Mat. 6:33). The Lord ascribes great importance to the acquiring of righteousness as this becomes evident by the fact that in He includes also one of them in His Beatitudes: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Mat. 5:6); which means that blessed are those who are not simply seeking for righteousness, but those who are anxious, like the hungry and thirsty ones, who are searching to find food and water in order to satisfy their hunger and thirst.


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