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)
FIRST TIME IN ENGLISH
St Maximus the Confessor's
The LIFE of the VIRGIN
- Translated, with Introduction and Notes by Stephen J. Shoemaker
- Yale University Press, 2012
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.
The Life of the Virgin is especially remarkable for its representation of Mary's prominent involvement in her son's ministry and her leadership of the early Christian community. In particular, it reveals highly developed devotion to Mary's compassionate suffering at the Crucifixion, anticipating by several centuries an influential medieval style of devotion known as "affective piety" whose origins generally have been confined to the Western High Middle Ages.
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.
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
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
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)
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
By Archimandrite Porphyrios, Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of the Honorable Forerunner in Beroia
And remember, the Lady Theotokos is our renewal.
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.
Here we have the feast of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple. Its subject is very simple: a little girl is brought by her parents to the temple in Jerusalem. There is nothing particularly remarkable about this, since at that time it was a generally accepted custom and many parents brought their children to the temple as a sign of bringing them into contact with God, of giving their lives ultimate purpose and meaning, of illumining them from within through the light of higher experience.
But on this occasion, as the service for the day recounts, they lead the child to the “Holy of Holies,” to the place where no one except the priests are allowed to go, the mystical inner sanctum of the temple. The girl’s name is Mary. She is the future mother of Jesus Christ, the one through whom, as Christians believe, God himself came into the world to join the human race, to share its life and reveal its divine content. Are these just fairy tales? Or is something given to us and disclosed here, something directly related to our life, which perhaps cannot be expressed in everyday human speech?
Here was this magnificent, massive, solemn temple, the glory of Jerusalem. And for centuries it was only there, behind those heavy walls, that a person could come into contact with God. Now, however, the priest takes Mary by the hand, leads her into the most sacred part of the Temple and we sing that “The most pure Temple of the Savior is led into the temple of the Lord.” Later in the Gospels Christ said, “destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up,” but as the Evangelist added, “He spoke of the temple of His Body” (Jn 2: 19, 21).
The meaning of all these events, words and recollections is simple: from now on man himself becomes the temple. No stone temple, no altar, but man — his soul, body and life — is the sacred and divine heart of the world, its “holy of holies.” One temple, Mary — living and human — is led into a temple made of stone, and from within brings to completion its significance and meaning.
With this event religion, and life even more so, undergoes a complete shift in balance. What now enters the world is a teaching that puts nothing higher than man, for God Himself takes on human form to reveal man’s vocation and meaning as divine. From this moment onward man is free. Nothing stands over him, for the very world is his as a gift from God to fulfil his divine destiny.
From the moment the Virgin Mary entered “the Holy of Holies,” life itself became the Temple. And when we celebrate her Entrance into the Temple, we celebrate man’s divine meaning and the brightness of his high calling. These cannot be washed away or uprooted from human memory.
(†Fr. Alexander Schmemann; The Virgin Mary ~ The Celebration of Faith, Sermons, Vol. 3.)
Reading List for the Feasts of the Theotokos ~
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.
This hardbound text is well-illustrated with many icons, sketches, photos, and 4 maps. The 640 page book has a gold-stamped burgundy hardcover, with acid-free pages.
- The Conception by Righteous Anna of the Virgin Mary
- The Nativity of the Virgin Mary
- The Entrance of the Virgin Mary Into the Temple
- The Virgin Growing Up in the Temple
- The Virgin Comes of Age
- The Annunciation of the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary
- The Mother of God Visits Righteous Elisabeth
- Joseph Reproaches the Mother of God
- The Nativity According to the Flesh of Our Lord, God and Saviour, Jesus Christ
- Wise Men Out of the East
- The Circumcision of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the Flesh
- The Meeting of Our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, in the Temple
- The Massacre of 14,000 Infants in Bethlehem and Its Borders
- The Flight Into Egypt
- Daily Life
- Christ at Twelve Years Old in the Temple
- The Repose of the Righteous Elder Joseph
- The Marriage at Cana
- Christ Shows Who is His Mother, Brother and Sister
- Christ Shows Who is Blessed
- The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ
- The Theotokos and the Myrrh-bearers: Mary Magdalene, Mary, Joanna, Salome, Susanna, Mary and Martha
- The Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ
- The Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Pentecost
- The Early Years of the Church in Jerusalem
- The Theotokos on Mount Athos
- The Theotokos Returns to Jerusalem
- The Dormition of Our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary
- The Theotokos is Bodily Translated on the Third Day
- Mary Theotokos and the Church
- The Gospel Reading for the Feasts of the Theotokos
- The Theotokos as Mediatress