Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May 1:
The Icon of the Mother of God of "Unexpected Joy"

In addition to commemorating the saints, it is also customary to commemorate certain icons on various days throughout the church year. Today, we commemorate the icon of our Lady of "Unexpected Joy." The icon depicts a youth at prayer before an icon of the Theotokos holding the Christ Child - it is explained by Saint Demetrius of Rostov in his book, "The Fleece of Prayer:"

"The sinful youth, who was nevertheless devoted to the Theotokos, was praying one day before the icon of the All-Pure Virgin before going out to commit a sin. Suddenly, he saw that wounds appeared on the Lord's hands, feet, and side, and blood flowed from them. In horror he exclaimed, 'O Lady, who has done this?' The Mother of God replied, 'You and other sinners, because of your sins, crucify My Son anew.' Only then did he realize how great was the depth of his sinfulness. For a long time he prayed with tears to the All-Pure Mother of God and the Savior for mercy. Finally, he received the unexpected joy of the forgiveness of his sins."

from the menologion of the Orthodox Church in America