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Festal Vespers of the Annunciation of Our Lady at the Cathedral of Sydney

On Sunday afternoon, 24 March, the Great Festal Vespers of the Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lady took place with due ecclesiastical splendour and reverence at the Cathedral of Sydney. The Vespers were officiated by His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Sevasteia and co-officiated by His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, while also present joined in prayer were Their Graces, Bishop Iakovos of Miletoupolis, Bishop Christodoulos of Magnesia and Bishop Bartholomew of Charioupolis, along with many clergymen of the city of Sydney and a large congregation of pious faithful.

At the end of the Festal Vespers, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, in his short address to the congregation, after offering wishes for the great feast of the Theotokos, thanked Metropolitan Seraphim for his presence and participation in the Cathedral’s Feast Day, while he asked him to preach the Holy Homily.

Metropolitan Seraphim, during his sermon, noted that the Annunciation of Our Lady is a mystery, since the Word of God becomes something that he was not, that is, a human being, and at the same time he remains what he was, God, while the Virgin Mary also becomes something she was not, a mother, and at the same time remains what she was, a virgin. “This mystery according to right reason and logic, cannot be explained,” he observed, and it was also asked: “Today, in our modern age, where everything is measured by mathematics and right reason, how can we understand the mystery? How can we participate in this mystery of God’s grace and the restoration of the fallen person?”

“Here the Church comes”, he answered, “to tell us that one experiences the mysteries not with the mind and logic, but with the heart. That is why Christ said in the beatitudes that “blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God”. Only with a genuine heart and a heart given to God, we are able to understand the mysteries of the Church. As long as we live outside the Church, as long as we do not participate in Her sacramental life, as long as we see Christ exclusively as a good teacher who taught some moral principles, and not as the Son and Word of God, we will not be able to understand anything that the Church offers us and the ways out of the hopeless life of sin and the oppression of the devil.

Only in the Church, with a pure heart, are we able to understand the mysteries and feel God’s love for humankind. Without our presence in the Body of Christ it is impossible to understand why God became man, why he showed so much love to raise up humankind, because, even though we are sinners, he persists and wants to save us”.

Also, Metropolitan Seraphim referred to the venerable person of the Virgin Mary, emphasising that, through her obedience to the will of God, she became a vessel of Grace and contributed to the salvation of the human race. The Metropolitan urged the faithful to bow reverently before the Most Holy Theotokos and invoke Her intercessions, so that God may enlighten and strengthen all.