“O Virgin, we extol the great grace of thy Protection, which thou didst spread out like a bright cloud beyond all understanding; for thou dost invisibly protect thy people from the foe's every assault. Since we have thee as our shelter and certain help, we cry to thee with our whole soul: Glory to thy great deeds, O most pure Maid. Glory to thy shelter most divine. Glory to thy care and providence for us, O spotless one.” — Apolytikion for the Protection of the Theotokos, First Tone

Beloved in the Lord,

On October 28, 2017 we celebrate OXI Day commemorating the day the people of Greece stood in unity and proclaimed “No” to the oppressive leaders of the Axis forces. They endured many hardships during this period, and the Nazi occupation that followed. Though this was a dark time in history, the Greeks demonstrated their bravery and resilience, striving to restore peace and freedom for their people. The personal freedom we have been given by God is a sacred inheritance and it is our responsibility to preserve that freedom for all of God’s creation.

On this day, we also celebrate and call to remembrance the blessings of the Mother of God and commemorate the Protection of the Theotokos, giving thanks for her watchful care. The Virgin Mary was the ultimate example of free will. She could have said “no” when the Archangel Gabriel appeared, telling her she was to conceive and give birth to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But, she put aside her own desires and chose to follow the path set forth for her life by God. It is this same free will that we have been granted, and it is up to us to also make decisions for our lives that help us grow spiritually.

Let us continue raising our voices, saying “OXI”, to the many forces of evil lurking in our world. We must remain vigilant in prayer that freedom may be preserved for all God’s people, keeping this spirit of our forefathers alive through such tremendous examples of courage.

With Love in Christ,
+ G E R A S I M O S
Metropolitan of San Francisco