September 11: Akathist to the Mother of God, Softener of Evil Hearts

This Wednesday, September 11, is the 18th anniversary of the four coordinated attacks against the United States, and the memory of many other recent violent events is fresh on our minds. In place of our usual Vespers service, we will pray the Akathist to the Mother of God, Softener of Evil Hearts at 6 PM.

This poetic hymn is based upon the prophecy of St. Simeon to Mary the Mother of God: "Behold, this child is set for the falling and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sin which shall be spoken against. Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." As Mary's soul was pierced by sorrow at the suffering of her Son, we now face our own thoughts concerning her Son and must choose to follow Him or not. As we pray for the evil in the hearts of our enemies, and in our own hearts as well, we ask that our feelings of enmity are softened, and that destructive strife and hatreds give way to kindness.

Soften our evil hearts, O Theotokos, * and quench the attacks of those who hate us * and loose all straitness of our soul. * For looking on thy holy icon * we are filled with compunction by thy suffering and loving-kindness for us * and we kiss thy wounds; * we are filled with horror for the darts with which we wound thee. * Let us not, O Mother of Compassion, * according to the cruelty of our hearts, perish from the cruelty of heart of those near us, ** For thou art in truth the Softener of Evil Hearts. - Troparion of the Akathist