Annunciation in Veljusa (Hierarch’s Divine Liturgy) ( 07.04.2005 )
The Holy Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel about the seedless incarnation of the Only-begotten Son of God in the womb of Virgin Mary, in the monastery of the Most Holy Theotokos Eleusa in Veljusa was commemorated with Divine Liturgy celebrated by Metropolitan Nahum of Strumica and his hieromonks. The faithful at the Liturgy partook of the Holy Mysteries of Christ.
“Seeking in quest of what is most necessary for one praying to converse with God, in what way does prayer come, the Lady Theotokos finds the sacred stillness - ‘stillness of the mind’, the world standing still, all earthly things below forgotten and sharing the secrets above, laying aside conceptual images for ‘what is better’. She discovers that if the mind does not scatter over earthly matters, it could devote itself to a better and higher pursuit, that is - turn towards itself: the only activity through which it could unite with God. This movement when the mind turns towards itself - that is, when the 'energy of the mind', having its place in the head, unites with the 'essence of the mind', which is in man's heart, the Fathers name 'cyclical movement of the mind'. It is an activity by which the mind surpasses itself and unites with God. It is a movement of the mind that cannot be subject to any error. It is the way in which the Most Holy Virgin staying in the Temple, having been freed of any material tie and having even thrown off the relationship of sympathy towards Her body, attached Her mind to turning towards itself, in both attention and unceasing prayer.
And through it (the prayer), She came completely to Herself and overcame the multiform rubble of thoughts; She discerned a new and ineffable way to Heaven, which I would call ‘silence of the mind’ (noht» sig»). And fixing the attention of Her mind on this, She soared above all created things, and saw God's glory better than Moses and kept an eye on Divine grace, which is by no means subject to the power of feelings, but is a wonderful and sacred contemplation, characteristic of pure souls and minds. Since a partaker of this contemplation, the Most Pure, as sung in the church hymns, became a lightbearing cloud of the truly Living water, a dawn of the mystical day and a flaming chariot of the Logos.
…They who act in this manner, who by sacred stillness have purified their hearts and in an ineffable way have drawn near the One Who Is beyond any feeling and thought, within them as in a mirror see God. Hence stillness (hesychia) is a fast and direct guide, successful and uniting with God, especially for them who practice it in everything and entirely. And what shall we say about the Lady Theotokos, Who stayed in hesychia from childhood? Staying in stillness of prayer supernaturally, from the earliest years, She, exactly because of it - knowing not of a man - attained the grace to give birth to the Godman Christ.” (extracts from the Homily on the Entry of our All-Pure Sovereign Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary into the Holy of Holies and on Her God-resembling Sojourn there by Saint Gregory Palamas, as quoted in the newly published book by Metropolitan Nahum of Strumica A School of Hesychasm)