Mother's Day on August 15

Every year, Orthodox Christians around the world celebrate the Virgin Mary for the first fifteen days of August. It’s such a great feast that in Greece the celebration on August 15 is known as the Summer Pascha! For the first fourteen days, we fast in anticipation of the falling asleep of the Virgin Mary, and we sing the Paraklesis in her honor.


Ever since Jesus put the Virgin Mary into the care of St. John and told him, “Behold, your mother!” (John 19:27), the Theotokos has been our mother as well. She is the greatest of the saints and she holds a place of honor as the mother of our Lord. The connection that she has with Christ is one which we all can only strive to understand.


As we remember the life of the Virgin Mary this month, let’s also bring to mind all of the mothers in our lives. The epitome of womanhood and motherhood, the Panagia is an archetype for all women. The Paraklesis to the Theotokos provides us with some titles that discuss the Virgin Mary but which can be applied to all mothers.


1. The protection of my life


The Paraklesis service calls the Panagia the “protection of my life,” our “unshakable wall,” and a “wall of refuge.” As the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary had an incredibly important role in guiding, protecting, and raising Jesus. Though God, Jesus was also born a baby in need of protection. As our adopted mother, the Panagia is our protection too, our stability in an often shaken world. We can run to her to shelter us and to bring us under the loving embrace of her Son.


As a little kid, I knew without a doubt that my Mama was the person I could run to when I was scared. My older sister, now a mother herself, has also held the role of protector and that unshakable wall in my life. This is who moms are. As I work with moms at my church, I cannot help but be amazed at their strength and resilience. They balance so much, they sacrifice so much, they are the protection of the most priceless of gifts: our community’s children.


Isn’t it clear then that the Mother of God would be our surest protection as well?


2. The one with a motherly favor


We call the Virgin Mary the “one with a motherly favor” because we trust that Jesus will continue to listen to her requests. After all, she did save the day at the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-12) by asking Jesus to replenish the wine! So maybe we, too, can benefit from her loving suggestions to her Son.


Though I try to be a generous person, I suppose I could always give more than I do. But if my mom, my sister, or my stepmom were to ask for help…how could I say no!? I love them and have benefited so much from their love and protection; why would I ever want to say no to them? If these mothers can count on me to listen to them and to do what I can to make them happy, then I can also trust our Lord will listen to the requests that our common mother, the Virgin Mary, asks for us.


3. A place of joy


Jesus told His disciples that if they kept His commandments and remained in His love, their joy would be full. Even though the Virgin Mary stood and watched her son suffer, she was so filled with His love that she did not despair. Can you imagine the joy that she must have had when she saw her Son again after His resurrection? Her heart must have brimmed over! Who else could be such a place of joy as the Panagia?


The love of the mothers in my life is the most wonderfully biased love in the world! Whatever I do brings joy to them. They pray for me, they are always happy for my triumphs and they worry about me when a smile isn’t on my face. But they are also a place of hope and always expect the best is yet to come. You see joy isn’t just being happy, it is trusting that what is to come is God’s will and that He is working to fulfill his will in our lives. It’s trust.


And with all that moms have to worry about, they would all go grey in a year if they did not trust in God’s power in the lives of their children. So while the Virgin Mary frets over us as any mother, she also has trust that her Son will provide for all of us. And that trust, that joy that she has, gives her prayers strength before the throne of God.




There is so much about the Orthodox Christian faith that is so wonderfully natural and organic. Our devotion to the Virgin Mary is one which flows from our love and devotion to all mothers, and which makes heart sense. Moms are our protection, they always have our devotion, and they are our place of joy. And as the mother par excellence, the Panagia is always there for us too to protect us, to bring our prayers to Christ, and to remind us to trust in God’s will.


So while you’re celebrating Summer’s Pascha, reach out to all the mothers in your life! Happy Mother’s Day this August 15th!



Sam is the Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministries at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Wyckoff, New Jersey. He grew up in Powhatan, Virginia and studied International Affairs and Spanish at James Madison University. Sam received his MDiv from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in 2013. He loves food, languages and good coffee.

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