The Patriarch addresses laity on occasion of Fast of St. Mary

August 6, 2016
By Kassa Nigus


His Holiness Abune Mathias I, Patriarch  of Ethiopia, Archbishop of Axum and Ichege of the See of Saint Taklehaimanot addressed Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church followers found throughout the world regarding the Fast of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Tsome Filseta) in a gathering that included  Mahibere Kidusan, public and private media journalists on July 4, 2016.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, one God, amen!
Congratulations on the occasion of the 2016 fast of St Mary, the Patriarch said to Children of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church who reside both in and out of the country throughout the world.  As God’s Prophet, David said in his song, “The fear of the Lord is clean”,(Ps. 19:9), the Word of God is, indeed, perfect, pure, holy, precious and unique; and stands distinct from the utterances of humans since the words of that latter are infested with lies, indecision, ignorance, doubt, treachery, and limitations of capacity. But the Word of God is significantly different from all these imperfections and is perfectly clean, true. Not only that, it is also irreversible. It is reflected in human lives and in the world according to His promise.  

The verse, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail…” (Luke 16:17) reminds us that the Word of our Lord God and Jesus Christ the Savior is above everything and has grace, power and endurance. Accordingly, whosoever teaches by dropping from, adding to and  distorting the pure Word of God for considerations of self-interest will be separated from the kingdom of God as He said,  “whosoever scraps parts of the commandments of God, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven”  (Matt.5:19)
Therefore, we have to be well aware that the Word of God gives eternal life to those who keeps it, and on the other hand, it has the authority to punish those who distort and abuse it. So, we have to recognize that the salvation of mankind is found suspended in balance between protecting and breaking the Word of God as written, “For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”(Heb 4:12) 
Our beloved children (both male and female) in the Holy Spirit:
There is something the Word of God tells us about the Blessed Virgin Mary written in the Holy Scripture. The worship/devotion we show for the next two weeks regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary fast season shall be performed based on memorization of texts about Holy Virgin Mary in the Word of God. Among the words told about St Mary in the Scripture are:
  • “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” (Luke 1:42)
  • “For thou hast found favour with God.(Luke 1:30)
  • “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee”: (Luk1:35)
  • “And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43)
  • “Behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” (Luke 1:48)
  •  “Woman, behold thy son!” John 19:26
  • “Behold thy mother” ( John 19:27)
So the Word of God tells the faithful to believe that the Virgin Mary is the Mother of God and acknowledges all generations shall call her ‘blessed’ for the grace of the Virgin Mary is connected with the Grace of God. Without believing that St Mary is the mother of God, we will not get salvation; without believing our Lord Jesus Christ is both God and man there is no eternal life.
As the relationship between Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Mother is the relation between a child and a mother, God ordered that the relationship between the faithful and Virgin Mary also to be like that of the relationship between mother and child.  (John 19: 26-27)
The apostle John took our Blessed Virgin Mary to his home to live with him after Jesus gave her to him, “Behold thy mother”. Since then, our Blessed Virgin Mary has been living within the house of believers. According to the Word of the Lord and the apostolic tradition, the house of the faithful of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church is the house of Saint Mary. Because there are no believers who couldn’t bring the sacred icon of St Mary into their house and pray before the sacred icon in hope of the intercession of St Mary, on their behalf. As a result, the faithful accomplish their worship without distorting, and ignoring parts of the Word of God.
Our beloved children in the Holy Spirit:
God gave us the greatest gift of all: the Virgin Mary through perfect love, the love between mother and child. That love is still binding us with St Mary. Those who are trying to separate us from this love, we need to resist them by exhibiting the spirit of Ethiopianism and Orthodoxy. Who he praises the Blessed Virgin Mary; surely he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit and keeps the Word of God as Elizabeth.
As an illustration of the deep love between us and the Virgin Mary, it is appropriate to give a piece of bread to those less fortunate than ourselves in her name and should continue this tradition down the generation without interruptions.
During this fast of St Mary, we shall perform good deeds such as extending our hands to feed the hungry, visiting the sick, visiting those in prison, and also by living in tolerance, trust, brotherhood, harmony, love and  peace.