A paraklisis is a supplicatory prayer that is chanted, at any time of distress or sorrow, for the benefit of the faithful. It can be chanted to a specific Saint, but prayers to Panagia are the most popular.
Early Christians recognised the Theotokos as a powerful intercessor for those suffering and in need of protection. Christians have been seeking her intercessions from the time of the ancient Church up to this very day: “For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48).
During the first 14 days of August every year, the Orthodox faithful recite the paraklisis or supplication prayers to the Most Holy Mother of God. These alternate between the Small Supplicatory Canon to the Most Holy Theotokos, composed by Theosterictus the Monk in the 9th century, and the Great Supplicatory Canon composed by Emperor Theodore I Doukas Laskaris in the 13th century.
The hymnographers use poetic language to express the Orthodox veneration of Mary who devoted herself entirely to God, bore the Son of God, and who experienced the grace of the Holy Spirit more than anyone else in the world.
In the language of the Church she is called ‘most blessed’, ‘more honoured’, ‘most gracious queen’. Her icons are on the iconostasis, ceiling and walls of the church and in the homes of the faithful. Hymns of praise are offered up to honour, thank, adore and implore her as she sits near the throne of God and intercedes to her Son, and our God, on our behalf.
In the paraklisis, we chant the hymn in Tone 4: “To the Theotokos, let us run now most fervently, as sinners and lowly ones, let us fall down in repentance, crying from the depths of our soul: Lady, come and help us, have compassion upon us; hasten now for we are lost in the host of our errors; do not turn your servants away, for you alone are a hope to us”.
Learning to chant the Paraklisis and having a prayer relationship with Panagia is another way that we can gain help in our spiritual path to salvation in the Church.
Source: Lychnos August / September 2017