The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple ~ Nov 21
Soon after the beginning of the Nativity Fast, the Holy Church celebrates the Feast of the Entrance of the Most-Holy Theotokos into the Temple. Here we encounter the holiness of Mary a small child separated from the world, brought to live in the Temple a life set apart, consecrated, and in a state of intimacy with God, something that all of us are called to be. We also see in this Feast a comparison between the Temple of stone and Mary, the Living Temple the Temple of the Savior, for she will bear God the Word the God-Man in her womb, thus showing herself to be a holier Temple than that at Jerusalem. It is the Living Temple the instrument of the Incarnation which sanctifies the Temple built of stone. Continue reading (Section 3 of the article 'The 12 Great Feasts') . . .
Troparion (Tone 4).
Today is the prelude of the good will of God,
of the preaching of the salvation of mankind.
The Virgin appears in the Temple of God, in anticipation proclaiming Christ to all.
Let us rejoice and sing to her:
Rejoice, O divine Fulfillment of the Creator's dispensation!
Kontakion (Tone 4).
The most pure Temple of the Savior; the precious Chamber and Virgin;
the sacred Treasure of the glory of God, is presented today to the house of the Lord.
She brings with her the grace of the Spirit, which the angels of God do praise.
Truly this woman is the Abode of Heaven!
Seeing the grace of God’s ineffable and divine mysteries evident and manifestly fulfilled in the Virgin, I rejoice;
and I am at a loss to understand the ineffable and strange manner
in which the immaculate Maid alone proved to be chosen above all creation visible and invisible.
Therefore, wishing to extol her, I am greatly perplexed in mind and speech.
Nevertheless I dare to do it, and I proclaim and magnify: A heavenly tabernacle is she.
Includes hymns for Vespers, the Litiya and Vigil, which reveal much about the Orthodox Church's mystical theology concerning the Theotokos. (PDF format)
The Life of the Virgin, by St Maximus the Confessor
FIRST TIME IN ENGLISH
St Maximus the Confessor's
The LIFE of the VIRGIN
Long overlooked by scholars, this seventh-century Life of the Virgin, attributed to Maximus the Confessor, is the earliest complete Marian biography. Originally written in Greek and now surviving only in Old Georgian, it is now translated for the first time into English. It is a work that holds profound significance for understanding the history of late ancient and medieval Christianity, providing a rich source for understanding the history of Christian piety.
FROM A REVIEW AT AMAZON.COM:
Important Addition to an Orthodox Christian Library, by Joanna Higginbotham
Five Stars: This life by St. Maximus is written in the same prayerful manner and is an excellent companion book to the life of the Holy Virgin written by the Holy Apostles Convent; especially since it appears that the Holy Apostles Convent did not have St. Maximus' account available to them.
AUDIO CD - REJOICE! Hymns to the Virgin Mary, by the SVS Chorale
Rejoice! Hymns to the Virgin Mary
The voice of the Virgin Mary, heard rarely but powerfully in the Holy Scriptures, and the events of her life, as recorded in both biblical and apocryphal texts, eventually comprised the core of many church hymns. Sung by the St Vladimir's Seminary Choir, Kevin Smith, Director.
$18 - CD - SVS Press
AUDIO CD - PANAGIA, by Archangel Voices
PANAGIA ~ Orthodox Hymns to the Mother of God
The repertoire on this CD reflects the "ever-presence" of the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary (Panagia) in Orthodox hymnography.
Out of the vast range of possibilities, Archangel Voices has selected a mix between works that are familiar and traditional and those that reveal new vistas of the sacred repertoire. A number of works—by such Russian masters as Chesnokov, Kastalsky, Nikolsky, and Yaichkov—are appearing for the first time in English adaptations. Works by relatively unknown 20th-century composers such as Ilyashenko and Cecil A. Bailey are brought to light for the first time. Works by modern-day Orthodox composers, currently living and creating in North America—Archpriest Paul Harrilchak, Vladimir Morosan, Kurt Sander, Benedict Sheehan, Richard Toensing, and Nazo Zakkak—round out the program.
Playing Time: 77:55 minutes
$19 - CD - Archangel Books
Prologue of Ochrid for the Feast
And the priest received her [the Theotokos], and kissed her, and blessed her, saying, "The Lord has magnified your name in all generations. In you, on the last days, the Lord will manifest His redemption to the children of Israel". And he sat her on the third step of the altar, and the Lord God sent grace upon her; and she danced with her feet, and all the house of Israel loved her.
(The Protoevangelion of James, Section 17)
When the Most-Holy Virgin Mary reached the age of three, her holy parents Joachim and Anna took her from Nazareth to Jerusalem to dedicate her to the service of God according to their earlier promise. It was a three-day journey from Nazareth to Jerusalem but, traveling to do a God-pleasing work, this journey was not difficult for them.
Many kinsmen of Joachim and Anna gathered in Jerusalem to take part in this event, at which the invisible angels of God were also present. Leading the procession into the Temple were virgins with lighted tapers in their hands, then the Most-Holy Virgin, led on one side by her father and on the other side by her mother. The virgin was clad in vesture of royal magnificence and adornments as was befitting the "King's daughter, the Bride of God" (Psalm 45:13-15). Following them were many kinsmen and friends, all with lighted tapers.
The Monasticism of the Panagia
The Monasticism of the Panagia
Monastics associate this great feast with the mystery of the monastic state.
By Archimandrite Porphyrios, Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of the Honorable Forerunner in Beroia
The feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos is called by my fathers on the Holy Mountain "the monasticism of the Panagia" (η καλογερική της Παναγίας).
Elder Gelasios loved her very much and would say that Papa-Thanasi, his Elder, the holy abbot of Gregoriou, honored her very much. And on one such day Elder Gelasios saw my Elder co-liturgizing with Saint James the Brother of God, who preserved this tradition.
The Panagia enters the Holy of Holies. Her parents, our grandparents Saint Joachim and Saint Anna, fulfill their vow. Many young girls of Jerusalem hold lit lamps and open a red cloth, like the bridal cloth that would be put on the backs of couples in olden times at the time of the celebration of the sacred mystery of Marriage.
How many symbols! And how many centuries has the world waited for this hour! For the Ever-Virgin to enter into a prepared place, where male high priests trembled to approach and enter once every annual cycle.
It is impossible for the mind to comprehend, and many "scientists" deny this feast in particular.
But of course they will deny it, since they live by logic-bound thought. And wherever "irrational" logic enters, the supra-rational Mind, our Triune God, departs.
And the archangel of joy, of the gospel and of hope serves her. What a fearsome mystery!
The Athonites associate this great feast with monasticism, with the mystery of the monastic state.
Certainly the place of our holy of holies is a place deep in our hearts. It is where the mixing of the created and the Uncreated takes place, in complete light.
When the heart is completely empty, it is renewed by the Young Child, our Lord Jesus Christ, in complete and salvific light.
Empty is the sacred sanctuary of the Temple of Jerusalem, and enthroned there is little Mary, the child of Nazareth.
The monk, the beautiful old man, is he who enters his own sanctuary, when he forgets and leaves. And, what a mystery is this, when he makes the little Virgin turn back, he gets excited by the light and the red color that shines in the light, and he rushes forward again, to his sacred bridal chamber, his unique and only place of rest, deep within the heart. And there are tears.
The monasticism of the Ever-Virgin! The great high priest and prophet grants her entrance. Yes, he is even a prophet, for him to know how many centuries the prophets before him prophesied of this moment. The message of the prophets, is the Lady Theotokos. It is spoken about also in the troparion. And the renewal of the faithful; we, that is, who want to be faithful to the faith and faithful to the Church, we are reconstructing-changing, and every moment we become, if we want, new again: we are filled with her light and believe correctly in the Church.
As an Athonite, how much did Saint Gregory [Palamas], the Theologian of the Uncreated Light of our God, love this feast? His homily on it is unlike any other. Pure excitement, waves of grace and an ocean of love. 
My brother, if you find yourself at Hilandari, our beloved, lift up your eyes above the right choir, and dance with the monks; see the company of little Mary and her parents and the high priest. Look, and be excited. And you also will live, even for a short time, inside the holy of holies of the cosmos, this false world, on sacred Athos, her Garden, the Holy Mountain.
And remember, the Lady Theotokos is our renewal.
 Read St Gregory Palamas' Homily on the Entrance of the Theotokos here. Order the collected Sermons of St Gregory Palamas on the Mother of God here.
Article by Fr Alexander Schmemann of Beloved Memory
On The Entry of the Theotokos Into the Temple
†Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann
It seems thousands of years removed from us, but it was not so very long ago that life was marked out by religious feasts. Although everyone went to church, not everyone, of course, knew the exact contents of each celebration. For many, perhaps even the majority, the feast was above all an opportunity to get a good sleep, eat well, drink and relax. And nevertheless, I think that each person felt, if not fully consciously, that something transcendent and radiant broke into life with each feast, bringing an encounter with a world of different realities, a reminder of something forgotten, of something drowned out by the routine, emptiness and weariness of daily life. Consider the very names of the feasts: Entrance into the Temple, Nativity, Epiphany, Presentation, Transfiguration. These words alone, in their solemnity, their unrelatedness to daily life and their mysterious beauty awakened some forgotten memory, invited, pointed to something. The feast was a kind of longing sigh for a lost but beckoning beauty, a sigh for some other way of living. Our modern world, however, has become monotonous and feastless. Even our secular holidays are unable to hide this settling ash of sadness and hopelessness, for the essence of celebration is this breaking in, this experience of being caught up into a different reality, into a world of spiritual beauty and light. If, however, this reality does not exist, if fundamentally there is nothing to celebrate, then no manner of artificial uplift will be capable of creating a feast.
Suggested Books on the Theotokos
Reading List for the Feasts of the Theotokos ~
(Links provided for quick selection and ordering.)
The Life of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos
By Holy Apostles Convent
The most complete text on the life of the Mother of God from her Conception to her Dormition and bodily translation, including her role in the Church, treated within the framework of Sacred Scriptures, Holy Tradition, Patristics and other ancient writings, together with the Liturgical and Iconographic Traditions of the Holy Orthodox Church.
- The Conception by Righteous Anna of the Virgin Mary
Articles Concerning the Mother of God