Visit to Canada of the Pochaiv Icon of the Mother of God (2009-09-22)

Archbishop SERAPHIM
The Visit of the Pochaiv Icon of the Mother of God to Canada
22 September - 11 October, 2009

On 22 September 2009, the Wonder-working Icon of the Theotokos of the Monastery in Pochaiv, Ukraine, arrived in Canada, to begin a series of visits in this country - visits that would prove to make a significant impression on all of us, whether we managed to venerate this Holy Icon, or not. These visits concluded
on 11 October.

Visit to Canada of the Pochaiv Icon of the Mother of God

The next stop was in Montréal, where several thousands of people came to venerate this Wonder-working Icon. Some were physically healed; others were refreshed spiritually. In every place the Mother of God stopped, she also brought people to repentance, reconciliation, and healing of the heart. As usual, She brought us, and continues to bring us, to Her Son. The next stop was Toronto, where again several thousands of people queued up to venerate this Wonder-working Icon of the Theotokos. Again, there were healings, as well as renewals of the hearts and lives of people who came to her, and also to those who did not.

The next stop was in Ottawa. Here the Mother of God was in the midst of the many assembled hierarchs, and the Archdiocesan Council, and many of the faithful of the capital, and of Canada. Here the Mother of
God had come to the Cathedral which is dedicated to Her Annunciation, and which had previously, as a Roman Catholic church, been dedicated to the Feast of Her Protection (on which day the Cathedral was first blessed and used by us), and for the Episcopal Ordination of our Auxiliary Bishop Irénée (Rochon) of Québec. Here too, as before, there were healings and reconciliations and repentances. After this, there were stops in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina (the Romanian Cathedral of St George), Winnipeg, and finally once again, Toronto. In each of these places there were many healings, renewed hearts, repentances, and reconciliations.

In her Progress across Canada, the Mother of God approached us in the warmth and joy of her compassionate Heart, and brought with her the renewal of hope, and a desire among us all to be more seriously faithful. She brought reconciliation again and again, and she brought healing, as I have emphasised. She gave us an opportunity for closeness to her Holy Icon that is not possible for believers in Eastern Europe, because of such great numbers wanting to venerate the Icon there.

Why would she come to us like this, with such a generous and intimate expression of Love? We, who are unworthy, cannot say, but we can express the depth of our gratitude.

She arrived in Canada, and through this Icon, which has been for 450 years in the Pochaiv Monastery in Ukraine - the land of origin of most of the early founders of Orthodox life in Canada - she embraced all the children of her Son. As the Icon visited us, were there temptations among us? Of course. There could never
be such a blessing without interference from the tempter. Did they succeed? Of course not. God's Love defeats all such tricks and disturbances. If a person for some reason could not manage to participate, was such a person deprived of Grace? No. If a person was blocked from venerating this Holy Icon because the tempter had successfully sowed seeds of skepticism, or something else negative, does that mean that because of this God will reject that person? No. The Lord's Love is much greater than our limitations, and the Mother of God is an effective conveyor of that Grace.

Let us, who have had the privilege of such a close encounter with the Lord and the Mother of God, now live as well as we can, and as responsibly as we can (always with God's help), in letting this same compassionate love and generosity shine from us. Let us, as the Mother of God aiways does, ailow the Saviour to reveal Himself through us to His needy children, and let us do so with hearts full of gratitude for the gifts of such inexpressible joy and strength in Christ.