THE SIGN OF THE THEOTOKOS ORTHODOX CHURCH
Our parish is named and consecrated in honour of one of the major icons in most churches — “The Sign of the Theotokos” spoken of by the Prophet Isaiah (7:14) in the Old Covenant, and quoted by the Evangelist Matthew (1:23) in the New: “The Virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which means, ‘God is with us’.” (“Theotokos” in Greek means “birthgiver of God”). Our liturgical services are celebrated primarily in English (with some French, and a little Greek and Slavonic).
Our mission is to bear witness to the Kingdom of God as transmitted through Sacred Scripture, the Apostles, the Ecumenical Councils and the Holy Fathers of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of God; worship and glorify the Lord God in Holy Trinity according to the liturgical practices of the Orthodox Church … and to be a spiritual home for all those who choose to dwell therein.
Saint Mary of Egypt
While we don’t know about the very early years of her life, we do know that she lost her virginity at age twelve and ran away from home. For the next seventeen years she was a slave to her insatiable appetite for sexual perversions, including sexual encounters with “young men,” even against their will. For seventeen years, Saint Mary of Egypt lived a lifestyle that isolated her from the community and God. Filled with insatiable desire amassed over the years, her heart yet longed for union with God. People in prison feel ostracized too, isolated from God and society, as they sit in shame in prison cells longing for the same tears of repentance that lead to joy and reconciliation.
The healing of the venerable Saint Mary of Egypt was not instantaneous but required a rigorous and lengthy spiritual journey. Being led by the Holy Spirit, she retreated to the wilderness where she lived the life of a hermit for seventeen years, seeking freedom from bondage of the passions. She spent a further thirty years in the wilderness having obtained the true gifts of repentance, healing and freedom from the enslavement of sin.
During Great Lent, each of us seeks repentance, turning from our own vices and passions and setting our minds and hearts on God. Through the intercessions of the most Holy Theotokos, God grants us the gift of compunction to turn from our wounds and sins to find healing and comfort in Him.
Let us remember Saint Mary of Egypt and her wonderful redemption. During the remainder of this Lenten journey, may we pray to be freed from our imprisonment to the passions that enslave us. Let us also pray for strength for all of our brothers and sisters who are imprisoned in penitentiaries, for their struggles and their journeys to repentance.
(adapted from the OCA page <https://oca.org/reflections/lenten-reflections/reflecting-on-the-life-of-st.-mary-of-egypt)
Kontakion (Fourth Tone)
Having escaped the gloom of sin, O blessed Mary, and shining brightly with the light of repentance, thou didst present thy heart to Christ, O glorious one, bringing Him His Holy and all-immaculate Mother as a greatly merciful and most bold intercessor. Hence, thou hast found the pardon of thy sins and with the Angles you rejoice for evermore.
On Christian Almsgiving …
The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit. – St. Basil the Great